Allowance not cutting it anymore? Are your parents after you to learn about responsibility and get a job? Baby-sitting could be the answer.
Baby-sitting is a great job — especially for teenagers. You can make quick cash while looking after and playing with kids.
While being a baby sitter is fun, you do have to be a little serious sometimes. It’s a real job and the parents are trusting you with their kids. Harriet Brown, author of “The Babysitter’s Handbook,” Dr. Danette Glassy, an expert on early education and child care, and Halley Bondy, author of “Don’t Sit on the Baby!: The Ultimate Guide to Sane, Skilled, and Safe Babysitting,” offer a step-by-step guide to how to become a great baby sitter.
1 Check your schedule Is baby-sitting even realistic?
“If you’re up to your neck in extracurricular activities from morning until night seven days a week, you probably won’t be of much use to families,” Bondy said. “Figure out when and if you’re free to baby-sit, so you can give a clear, accurate schedule to the families you want to work with.”
2 Learn about child care, safety
All three experts advise potential sitters to take a baby sitter training course and learn CPR and first aid. They’re usually cheap and short, so definitely worth it. Lots of organizations offer them, such as community centers, hospitals and the Red Cross.
Another bonus of taking classes? You can earn even more money as a baby sitter. Eighty percent of parents feel that teenage baby sitters should be paid more if they are trained in first aid, CPR and child care, according to a survey from the Red Cross.
3 Do a safety check
Before you even think about baby-sitting a child, make sure you know what to do in an emergency situation such as the following: the child is choking, gets a minor scrape or cut, falls off a bike, you get locked out of the house, there’s a fire, a burglar breaks in or the child runs off.
4 Start slowly
You don’t have to jump right into watching strangers’ kids.
“For résumé-building and practice on real kids, offer to baby-sit your family members’ and neighbors’ kids,” Bondy said. “If you’re brand new to sitting, you’ll want to have adult supervision at first, and eventually you can segue to real sitting for pay.”
5 Determine your rate
How much should you charge for baby-sitting? Some families may want to give you a crazy low amount — after all, that’s what they used to get paid when they baby-sat 20 years ago. Don’t fall for it. If you’re responsible, experienced and trained in safety, you can ask for more. Your price also changes depending on how many kids you’re watching, how old they are (younger kids need more hands-on attention), if you’ll be playing with them the entire time or if it’s nighttime and they’re sleeping.
6 Spread the word
Now that you’re ready to start, you actually need kids to baby-sit. “Tell all the adults you know and trust that you’re looking for baby-sitting work — your parents’ friends, your aunt, your neighbors, your tutors, your soccer coach. Everyone is a potential dollar sign,” Bondy said.
7 Interview safely
When you find a job, the parents will probably want to interview you — either over the phone or in person. Before talking to someone you don’t know, make sure your own parents know all the details. When you interview with a family, tell your parents when the interview is scheduled for, where you’re going and the names and addresses of the parents. Ask them to drive you to the interview and wait outside. Or call them as soon as it’s over. You need to stay safe, too.
8 Plan activities
Once you land the job, you’re not done yet. Think about what you’ll do with the kids to keep them entertained.
“Ask the parents what kinds of activities their child likes to do ahead of time, so you can prepare for that,” Glassy said. “Think about whether the activities you’re planning are age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate.”
Then run the activities by the parents. “Always do what the parents instructed,” Glassy said.
9 Be prompt
Arrive on time. This shows that you respect the parent’s schedule and that you’re reliable. If soccer practice is running a few minutes late, make sure you call the family and let them know.
But “don’t cancel at the last minute,” warns Brown. Word will spread with local parents that you’re flaky and you can say goodbye to your baby-sitting career.
10 Put your phone away
“Young children can get into dangerous or deadly situations very quickly, so a baby sitter must not be distracted by socializing while on-duty: no texting, no Facebooking or Internet/e-mail/Twitter-checking, no personal phone calls and no personal visits from friends,” Glassy said.
Besides, your friends will be impressed later when you tell them you couldn’t talk or text back because “you’re working.”
11 Clean up
One thing all three experts agree on: If you want to impress the parents, tidy up before they return. It will really show how responsible you are. If the house got messy during your Lego building or that action figure battle, make sure all toys are put away before bedtime.
12 Go the extra mile
How do you make sure the parents will call you again?
“Most parents are content when you show up on time, have a positive attitude and follow their rules — so if you arrive at the first gig with a thousand bells and whistles, you might overwhelm the parents and the kids,” Bondy said. “Over time, however, you can show the parents that you’re really invested in the job by repeating things the kids told you, by showing up with activities you know they will love or by offering ideas for future outings — these are sincere efforts, not forced ones.”