How do I start babysitting?

It’s a good idea to start babysitting gradually. Try being a “mother’s helper” first, then babysit for short times with kids you know. Once you work your way up to babysitting you’ll have to spread the word. Put up a sign at your shul, or have your parents tell their friends that you’re babysitting – the word will spread quickly! If someone asks you to babysit, first make sure you know them. Check with your parents about what time is okay to babysit, and make sure to think it through before committing yourself to 6 hours with two year-old twins! If you aren’t familiar with the kids it’s a good idea to visit a day before you babysit; that way the kids will be familiar with you when you babysit.

Expert Tip: Remember what it was like when you were being babysat and think about the things you liked in your babysitters. Make sure you pay at- tention to all the kids you’re babysitting, but don’t annoy them if they don’t want you with them.
-Hanna, age 13

How much should I charge?

That’s up to you. Ask your friends what they charge. Most girls charge between 3 and 7 dollars, but it depends a lot on the commu- nity. Then you’ll want to decide if you charge more for the number of kids, for certain ages, or for babysitting at night. As yo u continue babysitting, it’s okay to raise your price, just make sure you tell the parents beforehand.

How can I impress the parents?

Be responsible! Write down important phone numbers the parents give you along with any special directions. Before they leave make sure the parents tell you:

  • How you can reach them
  • When they’ll be back
  • Who to call if there’s an emergency
  • Bedtime instructions (if over bedtime)
  • Children’s allergies or health issues
  • Mealtime instructions (what to make, where the dishes are, etc.)
  • Any other instructions

Don’t feel silly asking too many questions. You want to make sure you have all the information you need before they leave. If you know you’ll be babysitting for the family more than once, you might want to keep a file of important information, so you don’t have to rewrite it every time.
Many parents appreciate it if you leave them a note for when they come home. You can say what you did, what food you ate, how bed- time went, etc. Here’s a sample:

Once you left, Rivky and I colored together. After that we went in the yard and blew bubbles. When we came in she was hungry, so we had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. She ate most of hers (after I took off the crust). Then she took a nap. She fell right asleep after I read her a story and slept for about 45 minutes. Then we played dolls until you came home. We had a great time! 

Expert Tip: When I come to a babysitting job I start by asking the kids what they want to do. I help them write a schedule of the order we’ll do things, and they decorate it. It’s a great way to warm up with the kids, and it will prevent fights about what games to play.
-Leah, age 14

What if the child misses their parents?

The child probably will miss their parents. The key is to distract them. Start off with a game, ask them to show you their toys, or sing them a song. Hugs can be comforting also. If the child is really upset, sometimes it helps to have them talk to the parents on the phone. (For some kids though, it will make them miss their parents more.) Once the kid is having a good time, their mind will be off their parents.

What should I do with the kids?

Play with them! Tell stories, draw pictures, blow bubbles (outdoors!), play games, ask the kids what they want to do! Make sure that they’re safe and following their parents rules while they’re playing! And remember, anything can be a game! Whether it’s making pictures with pretzels, or racing to get into bed, it’s not to hard to add a fun twist. Bring some toys or books of your own. Kids enjoy playing with new things.

Expert Tip: I try to bring a camera to every babysitting job — its a cute way to remember your experience and if you get enough pictures, you can make a scrapbook!
-Zehava, age 13

What if the kids don’t listen to what I say?

It’s important to establish that even though you’ll have fun, you are in charge. If a kid won’t listen to what you say there are a few options. Kids like to have choices. For example, if they won’t put on their pajamas you can say, “You can put your pajamas on now, or you can do it after you brush your teeth.” It makes the kid feel like they’re in control while you still get the result you want. Malka, age 14, says that when kids won’t listen to her but she doesn’t want to bother the parent she pretends to call them. “Once there was a kid that said her mom let her eat candy when I knew that she didn’t. I said I’d call her mom and ask her. I picked up the phone and had a ‘conversation’ with her mom. Afterwards I told the girls that her mom had said she couldn’t have the candy.” If the child is really giving you trouble it’s okay to call the parents and have the child speak to them.

What if the child gets hurt?

Before you start babysitting make sure to take a babysitting course offered in your area. You’ll learn about safety and caring for children. Not only will you feel more comfortable babysitting, but the parents will also feel comfortable leaving their kids with you. If you ever feel uncomfortable, don’t hesitate to call the par- ents or 911.

I was invited to a sleepover but I already said I’d babysit that night. Is it okay to cancel?

Think of it from the parent’s point of view. They scheduled their free time then, whether it’s an appointment or time to cook. They’ll be very disappointed if you cancel. If something really im- portant comes up (not just a sleepover) make sure to give the parents plenty of notice so they can find a different babysitter.

If you’re relaxed, safe, and you pay attention to the kids, you’ll be a great babysitter! 

Have more tips for being a great babysitter? Comment below!