For many teenage girls, learning how to become a babysitter is the initial step to getting their own pocket money and more responsibility outside of the home.
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Babysitting is a great first job to have for teenagers, and they usually start out at 11 to 15 years old.
Learn how to become a babysitter through this comprehensive guide: know if babysitting is for you, what to expect, what you need to learn to be a good babysitter, how to find babysitting jobs, and how to stand out as a babysitter.
Things to Consider Before Becoming a Babysitter
Before you become a babysitter, you’ll need to decide whether it’s the right job for you. Here are some things you need to think about.
Do you like kids?
Yes, babysitting pays well, but if you don’t even like kids, there’s no point.
It doesn’t just involve sitting on the couch and watching TV all evening.
The children that you’re tasked to care for aren’t inanimate objects. You’d have to actually interact and engage with them.
If just the thought of playing and talking to children for hours doesn’t interest you or even scares you, maybe babysitting isn’t for you.
Do you have time in your day to babysit?
Consider your after-school activities, your homework, family activities, social life, and hobbies. Will there be enough time in a weekday for you to babysit?
What about your weekends?
You see, parents prefer to hire babysitters who are available on short notice or can stay later than usual. The more flexible your schedule, the more you’ll get hired and the more extra pay you can get.
What you can do is find out through other babysitters or by trial and error which days are in demand and schedule your other activities around it so that you’re free to take babysitting jobs during high-demand days.
Are you mature enough?
Babysitting seems like a gig where you get paid to hang out with kids, but there’s more to it than that.
Parents are putting you in charge of their children, which means you’ll be responsible for their safety and well-being, as well as making sure that their house rules are still being followed.
Moreover, you’ll be in charge of their house, and parents need to be able to trust that you aren’t going to snoop around their stuff or gossip about personal stuff to other people.
Plus, you need to be reliable; you need to be a babysitter who shows up, and shows up right on time.
If you don’t think you’re ready, that’s okay. But maybe you’re not ready to become a babysitter; at least not yet.
Tools of the Trade: Learn How to Babysit
If you think you’re ready to be a babysitter, the next step is learning what parents expected to do when you’re with their children.
Babysitters have three main duties:
1. Keep Kids Safe
Accidents and injuries can happen at any time.
Sometimes, the difference between an accident and a tragedy is having someone present who knows how to handle emergencies.
It’s not enough to know to call 911. Learning how to give first aid and CPR, as well as what to do if there’s a fire or even a home invasion, are going to help you in a big way.
Save the parents’ emergency numbers in your cellphone so you can easily call them. Write them down and keep those numbers near the house phone or landline.
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2. Keep Kids Taken Care Of
You should already know how to keep kids clean and fed, taking note of their food allergies, preferences, and instructions on what they’re not supposed to have, such as potato chips or soda.
But aside from basic care, you should also know how to handle behavioral issues.
For example, if parents of a small toddler leave during your shift, what will you do if the toddler cries non-stop and looks for the parents?
How will you handle younger kids not listening to you?
When you babysit for a family, it’s most likely that you end up as the oldest kid in the house.
Always talk and act as a good example because younger kids could copy what you’re doing.
3. Keep Kids Entertained
If you’re babysitting multiple kids, the easiest way to handle them is to keep them busy.
The best babysitters bring a “sitter bag” that contains games, art supplies, puzzles, and other surprises that younger kids would love.
Stimulate their young minds with age-specific knowledge presented through play.
If you don’t have any idea how to do this, check out Blippi on YouTube. That guy knows how to present concepts in an interesting and engaging way for kids.
How to Get Started Babysitting
I don’t want to scare you from babysitting, but there are things you can do to be better prepared to become a babysitter.
Take a Babysitting Class
Organizations such as the American Red Cross offers babysitting training and classes so you can be prepared to babysit if it’s your first time.
As you continue to babysit, you can take more advanced courses and even get a Babysitting & Advanced Child Care Certification.
You can also go to Safe Sitter to find a class near you or take a virtual class.
It’s not strictly necessary, but parents are likely to hire babysitters who have taken at least a basic babysitting class.
Take Safety Courses
When it comes to child safety, knowing how to do first aid and CPR on children are certainly important. If you’re babysitting for a family that has a pool, water safety is another thing to learn.
The American Red Cross offers classes on first aid and CPR, as well as water safety.
Work on Your Communication Skills
Parents usually choose a babysitter who can communicate properly. If you are open to talk about anything from their kid’s behavioral problems to incidents that happen during your shift, this openness would help build your relationship with families you work for.
Kids also value communication skills. They’re highly sensitive and can tell whether you genuinely care about them.
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You need to be able to talk to children about their ideas, answer their questions, and take their fears seriously without scaring them further.
Develop a Good Work Ethic
This will probably be your first job, so you have a lot of time to develop your work ethic. But working on it early on wouldn’t hurt.
Be on time for all your shifts. Listen and follow rules from your employers. And generally do things in such a way that would make you feel proud.
Get Some Experience
Do your parents trust you to stay home alone, and have they ever left you alone for any amount of time or even overnight?
If not, that’s the first step! After all, you need to be able to take care of yourself before you take care of other children.
If you have younger siblings, you can ask your parents to trust you to take care of them, if you aren’t already doing it.
Not only do you get experience, but you can also show them that you’re serious about becoming a babysitter.
Or, if you don’t have younger siblings, maybe you can ask aunts, uncles, or other relatives who have children in the house to babysit them for a few hours to get more experience.
You may even want to offer to babysit for a few hours for free as a trial run. You get more experience while convincing them that you’re worth hiring.
Build Your Confidence
Babysitting isn’t always fun; sometimes you’ll need to have children pick up their toys, eat their vegetables, and brush their teeth before bedtime.
Becoming a babysitter means having to enforce the rules, so you’ll need to be confident enough to be firm yet gentle with them.
Part of being confident is being humble. You’ll probably never get things perfectly the first time, so you need to be open to constructive feedback from both the parents and the children you’re babysitting.
While you’re at it, you also need to know the difference between helpful criticism and verbal abuse. If you’re not sure, ask your parents.
And remember, you’re not anyone’s slave; you don’t need to go back to a house where you are uncomfortable.
Decide How You’ll Offer Your Babysitting Services
Knowing what you know at this point, you should have an idea which families you should target, how many hours you can spare to babysit, and how far away from your home you can offer your services.
Before you take on a babysitting job, make sure their children are just the right age for you to handle.
Parents are more likely to leave babies and younger toddlers to older, more experienced babysitters.
If you’re younger, you’re likely to find yourself watching older kids who are more independent and less likely to get into trouble.
Also, as I’ve mentioned above, you need to be able to offer your services reliably, and you should be able to set aside a few hours a week.
Think about how long you can spare to babysit, as well as how late your parents are going to allow you to stay out.
You would also need to map out how far from your home you’re willing to babysit, and a huge factor is what transportation you have available.
Will your parents be able to bring you to the house where you babysit every time you have work?
If you don’t have transportation available, will you be open to walking? How about being driven to/from by your employers? Will your real parents be fine with this setup?
If your parents are working and your new job cannot provide you with transportation, maybe you should consider online jobs for teens instead.
How to Find Babysitting Jobs
If you’re a big sister to younger siblings and you love being so, you might consider babysitting as one of the easy ways to make money.
Now that you know the tools of the trade and what to expect on the job, here’s the most challenging part of all: finding babysitting jobs for you. So where do we start the job hunt?
- Recommendations – Ask your friends and family about possible babysitting jobs they know. If you’re up for it, make flyers and ask your parents to spread the word. Look around your area: your neighbors may be in need of help.
- Check in your school – Go around the school and ask your classmates if their parents are in need of a babysitter. How about your teachers? If your school has a job board, check if there are babysitting listings available.
- Community center – Does your town have a community center? Look for “babysitter needed” posters and see if anyone is on the lookout for a babysitter.
When you’re marketing your babysitting services, create a Facebook page or website.
You’d be surprised how many people on Facebook are trying to look for babysitters in your area.
Online Babysitting Jobs
Two popular sites for sitters to sign up with are SitterCity and Care.com.
The original sitter site was started in 2001.
Sittercity is available in all 50 US states and features over 6 million babysitters. At Sittercity, you can not only hire a babysitter but also a nanny, au pair, or regular childcare.
To get started with Sittercity, complete your profile and include pertinent information about your past experience, preferences (e.g., non-smoking or smoking house), average hourly rate, and availability. You will also be given the option of having Sittercity perform a background check on you (for a small fee).
It is highly recommended that you agree to the background check because that will increase the number of work requests you receive.
You can also peruse job postings placed by parents and solicit your services via the Sittercity site.
Care.com is a global care site that spans 18 countries and has been around since 2007.
This site has millions of members and offers a range of care services, from childcare to assisted living services.
You can fill out a form with Care.com, which includes creating a detailed profile containing your photo, preferences, experience, skills, hobbies, etc.
Just like with Sittercity, you can use Care.com to look for sitter jobs and have families contact you directly about your services.
Parents and relatives can also leave detailed reviews about your services, rates, skills, etc. If you rack up enough good reviews, your odds of securing steady work will increase.
If you’re at least 16 years old and live in a major city, Babysits is a good option to find babysitting jobs.
It’s completely free to sign up and you get to apply for babysitting jobs near you. Plus, it has plenty of resources if you’re looking for babysitting tips, kid-friendly activities, crafts, and even kid recipes.
Monster.com, Craigslist, etc. can also be taken advantage of for listing your babysitting services.
These sites are free to use and are widely viewed.
How to Stand Out as a Babysitter
When there are hundreds or even thousands of sitters to compete against in your neck of the woods, how do get more babysitting jobs?
The answer lies in add-on services and extra/special skills.
Parents are most likely to hire you if you do or know the following:
You can drive.
If you have a car and can use it to drive kids to their soccer matches and piano recitals, you’ll become a valuable asset to parents everywhere.
With SitterCity, you can have your driver’s license verified for an extra fee to ensure that you are legally certified to drive.
You have early childhood education.
Kids are rarely logical, polite, and obedient.
However, you can induce them to become that way, at least for an evening, if you know a little bit about childhood psychology.
Community and online colleges offer different classes in childhood development and psychology, and completing them will definitely make you stand out amongst anxious parents.
You are punctual.
Believe it or not, the single biggest complaint that parents have about babysitters is that they are late.
So, as an up-and-coming babysitter, do your part to arrive on time at your destinations.
You are creative.
Do you know how to fill an evening with card tricks, painting projects, or an expedition to the local park? Can you pick up and play the latest PC games or discuss cartoon characters?
The more you ‘get’ your clients’ kids, the more likely those clients will be to call you for repeat babysitting.
And it never hurts to be known as their “favorite babysitter” either.
How much money do babysitters make?
Nowadays, the going rate for babysitting services is $15 per hour. The days when you would see someone paying $20 for an entire night of babysitting are long gone.
For urban centers and megacities like New York or San Francisco, it’s common to earn around $20 per hour.
Even novice babysitters that have extra skills and training can command rates in the high teens.
The Babysitting Bottom Line
Interacting with children as a side hustle may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you like it, the money is certainly waiting for you.
And if you land a babysitting position, do a good job. Take care of your reputation.
And consider your services as a full-blown business.
Even if you’ve outgrown your teen years, you can still continue the babysitting business if you want to.
Interested in becoming a babysitter? Tell us in the comments when you land your first babysitting job!