Are you looking for a regular sitting gig or have you recently started one? Congrats! You’re part of the family or about to become part of one.
Regular sitters enjoy a steady income whilst enjoying the company of kids they know and love on an ongoing basis. Babysitting is a great way to make a living, gain life skills and make new friends.
While it can be fun and exciting to get to know everyone and integrate into your new tribe, there are some tips & tricks out there that can make the experience smoother and lovelier for everybody – especially you.
So sit back, grab a cuppa and let’s master your fabulous new job.
Hero tip #1: Be curious and ask questions. Lots of them.
Even if you love children and have babysat heaps before, we suggest going beyond the emergency numbers and allergy checks. Ask parents questions about their expectations or their children’s favourite things. If you’re in charge of after-school pick up, you could inquire about their friends, their routines and anything else they think you should know about the family (the house, the pet iguana…). Don’t forget to have a few rehearsed things to say about yourself and the things you enjoy doing. This will help you get a better idea of what you’re getting into and ensure you extract all the information you need to get the hang of things as swiftly as possible.
Why not make a list of questions that you want to cover? Print them out and bring a pen to write down the answers. This way you’ll know that you’ve covered everything and you’re 100% set up for success.
And remember – everyone makes mistakes, but it’s how you deal with them that’s important. If something doesn’t go quite according to plan, be open and listen to the parent’s concerns and feedback. It will help you do your job much better.
Hero tip #2: Sense the vibe and do your best to fit in.
All families are, of course, uniquely different. However, living in a cosmopolitan and vibrant place like the UK means that you’ll meet parents and children that are very different from your own upbringing. Take the time to look around and get a feel for the environment. For instance, are they chatty and want to engage in conversation? Do they want their kids around or should you take them away? Are they happy with Tinie Tempah bangers or prefer to keep it quiet? Are screens allowed or are books preferred?
Collect clues that can help you fit in, and as you spend more time with your new family you’ll be able to introduce more parts of yourself, while respecting the house’s spoken (and unspoken) rules.
Hero tip #3: Master the bedtime routine.
Bedtime can be stressful for everyone: especially kids who are tired, and not too keen to sleep. Most parents will have a routine they follow that the household knows (and hopefully loves). We suggest you don’t reinvent the wheel, as kids crave consistency. Instead, ask the parents to explain the basics to you and even take you through their routine at least once in real time. Try offering to help them while they demonstrate and explain what they normally do, but don’t forget to take notes and pay attention to the details.
Most importantly, use the opportunity to truly educate yourself on what it is that you’re expected to do. This is not the time to be shy. Most parents would prefer you to ask all your questions while they take you through the routine, rather than walk away from the conversation unsure about what to do when you’re on your own.
Hero tip #4: Being cool isn’t always cool.
Kids do best with structure and boundaries as it teaches them self-discipline and self-control. That said, we all know that kids will be kids, so expect them to challenge them! After all, pushing boundaries is natural for children and it’s how they make sense of the world. As a sitter, your job will be tricky as you’ll need to balance being loved with being respected. We suggest you first find out the rules of the house and stick to them, even if you disagree or worry that it’ll make you uncool. Remember that you’re not just a babysitter, you’re the parent’s second pair of hands. When in doubt, go with your gut and do what you think is right for that child. Being a good babysitter means being kind, but firm. After all, you’re the adult in charge.
As you spend more time with your family, you’ll know when it’s OK to “break” the rules, like eating an extra cookie or staying up 10 minutes past bedtime. Shh, we won’t tell if you don’t!
Hero tip #5: Organisation is your friend.
To quote Mufasa from the Lion King: “Be Prepared”. Know the ages of the children ahead of time and have a few games, stories and activities that are age appropriate. Consider bringing old costumes or books that you think they might enjoy. Children are naturally curious and you will score some major points if you manage to entertain them and show how awesome you are straight away. Earn extra points with parents by including a teaching element to playtime.
Make sure you make it on time (or ideally 5-10 minutes earlier). If you’re ever unwell, give the parents enough notice for them to figure out an alternative, after all, they are relying on you. You could try to suggest a substitute sitter that you might know in the area, or even better, get in touch with the sitter and find out if they’re available before letting the parents know. Coming up with solutions will be extremely helpful for everyone.
Lastly, ensure that you’ve left the house in the same / better condition than you found it. It can be extremely frustrating for a parent to come home from having a lovely time out, and find the place in a catastrophic condition. As parents ourselves, we know that there’s nothing lovelier than coming home to a relaxed and organised home. The family will be very grateful and trust you even more.
That’s it. You’re now totally prepared for the adventure ahead. And even if you’re not, that’s alright. Trust your instincts and ask questions. Before you know it, you’ll be a total pro and a household fav. You’ve got this 💪
Now go get ‘em tiger 🙂