Good babysitters know they have to wear two hats at all times. They need to be the costume wearing, crayon coloring, dance like no one’s watching “fun” babysitter while also being the prepared, responsible, and considerate babysitter parents expect.
Knowing your boundaries with the kids and with parents is the key to success in balancing the two hats. You already know how to be prepared and what questions to ask before you accept a babysitting job to establish boundaries with the kids (and if you don’t, check out my video on What You Need to Ask Before Accepting a Babysitting Job).
You’ll find that establishing boundaries with parents is simply a matter of being responsible and considerate. Check out this video that has my top 5 tips for working with families. Doing these five things plus being a great babysitter to their kids will guarantee repeat jobs (and if you’re really good, the parents will likely refer you to their friends and family!).
Babysitting Basics: Working with parents.
Kids aren’t the only challenging thing about babysitting. You have to know how to handle their parents as well. Do both right and you’ll have your pick of the best babysitting jobs. You know what I’m talking about, the ones where they keep the fridge stocked with your favorite Ben & Jerry’s as opposed to, Uh, I think there are some stale rice cakes in the pantry if you get hungry.
So, here are my top tips for working with families. Be on time. Guess what, parents don’t get out a lot so when they have a babysitter they either have to be someplace else, like a meeting or an event or else they really really want to be someplace else like eating dinner someplace where they don’t have mac and cheese on the menu. They probably have reservations, which means they need to be on time and that means that you need to be on time.
Pretend you’re an adult. Here’s what I mean. When you meet them for the first time, look them right in the eye, introduce yourself, and hold out your right hand to shake their hand. It’s a very adult thing to do. I know, and it will totally impress them. Do that, and I promise you can get your Ben & Jerry’s list ready.
Stay out of their stuff. What if you showed up to a babysitting job and the parents suddenly grabbed your phone and just started going through it. Wow. Talk about invasion of privacy. Show them the same courtesy they show you and stay out of their stuff. Seriously, don’t be a creeper. Stay out of their bedroom, their closets, their office, and any adult’s room unless you have specific permission to be there. Don’t snoop in drawers and don’t go through their mail.
Mind your manners. Say please and thank you. Pick up after yourself and generally be polite and respectful.
Don’t cancel unless it’s an emergency. I’m puking kind of emergency. We all know that babysitting is hard work and sometimes you don’t feel like working hard, you know. But if you’ve agreed to take a job, those parents are counting on you. Parenting is like a babysitting job that’s 24/7 and lasts the rest of your life. They need this night out.
Do all of these five things plus be great with their kids and you’ve reached the summit. The top of your game. The only thing left to say is, “I prefer Cherry Garcia and Chunky Monkey.”
Learn more about the things you need to know when meeting with a new employer and download the Safe Sitter® Help Sheet.
Take a Safe Sitter® class and learn more child care skills. Find a class near you!