Mention “babysitting” and “1980s” in the same sentence, and many people think of “Adventures in Babysitting,” the 1987 film featuring a babysitter, several children, and a night of ridiculous exploits involving car thieves and blues musicians. But the movie, entertaining as it is, may not be the most reliable reference for babysitting experiences in the eighties. Most sitters in the ‘80s experienced quiet evenings with the children they watched, playing Monopoly® or watching a family-friendly movie on NBC.
Feeling nostalgic yet? In today’s fast-paced world where kids are more likely to stream their favorite show on their phone via the Netflix app, it may seem like babysitting isn’t what it used to be. However, peel back the superficial changes, and you’ll find that babysitting in the 1980s, back when Safe Sitter® was just getting started, was a lot like it is today.
Okay, maybe babysitting has had a few minor changes over the years, but only because of a changing society. No longer can parents hand a ten-dollar bill to a 14-year-old for a whole night of babysitting. Teens expect to be paid as much as $8-$10 an hour, depending on how many kids they’re looking after. Snacks are healthier too. A few decades ago you would see a babysitter letting kids indulge in Twinkies and Kool-Aid. (Life was good.) Today, goldfish and a bottled water are common snacks, preferred by today’s health-conscious parents.
However, take a closer look and you’ll find that kids haven’t changed much. Yes, smartphones have changed the way kids communicate, but preferring a handheld electronic device to an hour spent outside is nothing new. Back then, the “gold standard” of devices for young kids was the Game Boy. Today, it’s the Nintendo DS. Barbie dolls and board games are still popular toys, even if there are now dozens of different editions of Monopoly®. Yes, kids now have Netflix and can stream their favorite shows, but television is as addictive as ever, and movies are still a great way to keep a group of kids entertained for a couple of hours.
Most importantly, the core values of babysitting have never changed. Every good babysitter knows it’s her job to keep kids safe and entertained. Good sitters love to have fun with kids, and they’re well-rounded in video game skills and doll-playing skills alike. They’re able to balance being in charge with being able to morph into the little kid they once were while playing hide-and-seek. Good sitters are still in demand, and what makes them good hasn’t changed at all.
The world may have changed over the past 30 years, but parents still need a date night every now and then. Kids still hope that the “good” babysitter is coming over, the one who enjoys a good Lego Batman battle on the Xbox. Babysitting is still the go-to job for teens. And as long as babysitters care about keeping kids safe and entertained, parents can enjoy a night on the town while knowing their kids are having fun at home. Maybe they’re even watching “Adventures in Babysitting” on Netflix.
One thing will never change: it’s important for babysitters to have the life and safety skills necessary to keep themselves and the children they’re watching safe. Has your babysitter taken a babysitting training course? If not, find a Safe Sitter® class near you!