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.
You've probably had to watch your little brother or cousin before anyway. Why not do the same thing and get paid for it!
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 Baby sitter'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 Baby-sitting," offer a step-by-step guide to how to become a great baby sitter.
1. Check Your Schedule:
Before you even think about baby-sitting, look at your schedule. Is baby-sitting 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 says. "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 and Safety:
Now take some classes that will help you learn the baby-sitting ropes. 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 in your area offer them such as community centers, hospitals and your local Red Cross.
Another bonus of taking classes? You can earn even more money as a baby sitter! 80 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:
Because safety is so important when you're watching kids, it gets two steps! Before you even think about baby-sitting a child, make sure you know what to do in an emergency situation like:
the child is choking
the child gets a minor scrape or cut
the child falls on his bike and hits his head
you get locked out of the house
there's a fire
a burglar breaks in
the child runs off
4. Start Slowly:
You don't have to jump right into watching strangers' kids.
"For resume-building and practice on real kids, offer to baby-sit your family members' and neighbors' kids," suggests Bondy. "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:
The most important part: money. 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 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.
"Use your judgment, and talk to a parent or trusted adult to figure out a solid rate," Bondy suggests. You can negotiate with families, but it helps to have a starting figure in mind.
Check out Care.com's Baby sitter Pay Calculator to figure out how much you should be making.
6. Spread the Word:
Now that you're ready to start, you actually need kids to baby-sit for. Let friends, family, and neighbors know you want to baby-sit. Put a notice on community boards where parents often are, like the grocery store, library and pediatrician's office.
"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," suggests Bondy.
You can also find a baby-sitting job on Care.com. Create a profile and apply to jobs all for free.
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 about the job and who you're interviewing with. If something seems odd, tell your folks immediately. You need to stay safe too!
When you interview with a family, tell your parents when the interview is scheduled for, where you're going and the names and address of the parents. Ask them to drive you to the interview and wait outside. Or call them as soon as it's over.
8. Plan Activities:
Once you land that baby-sitting 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," Dr. Glassy recommends. "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," Dr. Glassy says. "Come to the job with some suggestions for activities, or bring books to share with the children. Be sure to ask the parents if they think these might be fun for their child."
9. Be Prompt:
Show off how professional you are by arriving on time. This shows you respect the parent's schedule and 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 they all talk! that you're flakey 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 Facebook, Internet, email, or Twitter checking, and no personal phone calls or visits from friends," says Dr. Glassy.
Besides, your friends will be impressed later when you tell them you couldn't talk or text back because "you're working."
Once the rug rats go to sleep and the house is quiet, you have a little more freedom. But make sure you ask the parents before they leave what's okay: TV, phone, computer, etc.
Keep an ear out for noises, don't get distracted and stay quiet you don't want to wake the kids!
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 off 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?
"Be organized," Brown suggests. "Tell the parents how your time with the kids went and anything they might need or want to know about it."
"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 says. "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."
13. Don't Try to Be Perfect:
Know that no matter how prepared you are, baby-sitting isn't easy.
"You have a little life in your hands, and you have to please the parents," Bondy says, reflecting on her own past baby-sitting experiences.
"But I learned quickly that I would never be 100 percent perfect as a baby sitter. I wouldn't cook the broccoli just right every time, I wouldn't be able to quell every tantrum immediately and not all my ideas for games would fly. However, I learned how to be confident despite these tiny setbacks and how to be a great sitter if not a totally perfect one. Confidence goes a long way when it comes to handling kids."