Often times I forget how unique my job is. I started working for a family with a five and three year old about six months ago. Nichole is a full time stay at home mom who had never asked for anyone outside of the family to watch her children. But after moving, her parents could no longer assist in raising the kids. She went to the local elementary school and asked the front office if they could recommend anyone. She just happened to go to the elementary school that I attended. (It does help to have gone through the school system but not required). Since my mom works at that school and I help out there when I can, the office staff knows me.
Tip 1: Network. PTA moms, teachers and doctors offices are great ways to spread word of mouth about your services. Volunteer to help in a classroom, attend PTA meetings or hand out business cards at the school carnival.
We met at Chick-Fil-A for lunch one afternoon so I could meet with her before she invited me to her home. This was her way of teaching the kids that strangers are not allowed in the home. I thought it was pretty awesome of her to be a role model for her kids.
TIP 2: Always make the parents feel comfortable. If they want to meet with you prior to letting you interact with their children, be accommodating.
Our meeting was essentially a job interview. Yes, even babysitting jobs require a hiring process.
TIP 3: Dress appropriately. At the very least wear a nice blouse, clean jeans, and comfortable shoes. This isn’t an interview for a FORBES 500 company so suit and tie isn’t appropriate. You are dealing with children. Messy, unpredictable, MESSY children. Don’t look like a slob however. An interview isn’t the time to wear a painting smock and old sneakers.
During the interview I was very open about the families I had previously watched, what my typical schedule was, and how much I charged. Since I didn’t meet the kids on our first interview, I offered a free two hour “sample” session to see if the kids liked me and how Nichole felt with me alone with the kids. She agreed and decided to do it on a morning when she could do school work in her room while I played with the kids in the play room.
TIP 4: ALWAYS ask for letters of recommendation from previous families (you can never have too many). It will make your resume look more professional and provide backup for what you say you provide.
After she officially hired me, I handed her a form that I asked to be completed before my first night with the kids. On it was important information that every babysitter should have.
TIP 5: The Emergency Information Sheet: bring with you EVERY time you watch the kids, even if you have been with them for a while.. you never know what you will need should a real emergency occur.
What to include:
- parents name (it is possible that you will forget it in the event of a crisis)
- cell phone numbers (should be programmed in your phone prior to starting)
- home address (in case you have to call 9-1-1, they ask for it)
- emergency contacts (at least 2, one related and one nearby neighbor that they trust)
- primary care doctor/pediatricians number and location
- urgent care location and number (for broken bones or cuts)
- location of ER (for allergic reactions or other serious illness)
- any allergies
- any medications (include dosage and when to administer it)
- bed time routines
- eating habits (if the child doesn’t eat a lot, it should be noted so you have peace of mind)
- bathing habits
- any important house rules
- What is allowed for disciplining (some parents are very adiment about time outs or soap in the mouth for bad words)
SEE NAPTIME TRAUMA blog post for a real life example
I always arrive at their house 5 minutes before I am supposed to so I can be filled in about moods, naps, what they have eaten, if dinner is prepared or what to prepare, new bedtime routines etc.
TIP 6: Remember this quote: “If your early you are on time, If you are on time you are late, and If you are late your dead.” Parents have places to go and people to see! If they schedule you for 6 pm its for a reason.
Usually when a new person is introduced into a child’s life they are going to want to push buttons. They want to see how you will react if they don’t follow rules or listen the first time.
TIP 7: NEVER let a child get under your skin. If they sense that you feel defeated they will walk ALL over you.
TIP 8: Actions deserve Consequences, don’t feel bad for putting a child in time out or telling the parent about excessive bad behavior. However, it is not a babysitter’s place to spank, hit or cuss at a child. (I say this and you may question it but I have seen some boundaries that were crossed by other babysitters.)
Parents do not pay a babysitter to sit and watch t.v. or sit on their phone all night. They are paying for a companion to stimulate creativity and offer a safe playing environment.
TIP 9: You can really impress parents by bringing a craft box or special toys to play with while you are with the children. They don’t have to be expensive or store bought. Showing initiative and creativity are definitely pluses when it comes to qualities in babysitters.
If nothing else, here is my final and most important tip.
TIP 10: Love the children. Be positive. Offer words of encouragement and praise. Get to know the child’s mood, if they are having a bad day make an extra effort to turn it around.