Do we ever really let go of our kid side? I haven’t yet and I really don’t ever plan to. Personally, I think people who are kids at heart are the happiest! I don’t know, maybe it’s just cause I love kids, maybe it’s because I want to teach and influence little kids, but kids are important! They’re going to be taking care of us one day!
I remember growing up and being put in charge of a baby while their mom did something for a few minutes or playing with the toddlers while the adults talked about adult things. I have always gravitated towards kids! My mom says that she can’t imagine me ever being without kids. It’s true i want 34850947 of them!
KIDDING KIDDING. Calm down, I’m not insane! But I do want 3 or 4 lil munchkins when I grow up.
Anyways, because of my caring nature and my affection for little ones, I’m always picked to babysit. I even work in childcare and nanny/regularly babysit right now! You can actually earn some nice money doing it. However, I was still nervous to babysit kids I had never known before, I had always just watched family members with their parents not to far in case of an emergency. So I tried to look for tips on the internet and couldn’t find much! So today, I’m sharing some of my key tips in babysitting and making it more fun and easier!
Learn Your Kids
This is one that can only really come with time. At first, the kids might not be completely relaxed around you, especially if their used to another babysitter. Learn what makes them tick, learn how they react to conflict, how they are when they’re mad or sad or annoyed. After the first handful of times you watch them, their true colors will start to come out as they get used to you. I’ve been watching the same kids for a year and I’m still learning new things about them as they grow! Be as interested as possible in their interests. Ask them about their day at school, their friends, their weekend plans. For example, one of the kids I watch LOVES being outside so we play basketball. They both love Legos so I help them build Lego sets all the time! It keeps them occupied AND happy.
Be clear on parental instructions
Even though you are watching them, it’s still important for them to follow their parent’s rules. If there are specific foods they’re only allowed to have for special things (like candy or ice cream), if they’re not allowed be on their electronics for more than a set amount of time, etc. Every family is different and it’s important to stick to the things the parents tell you! The parents will also be your best friend. They need you to watch their kids, so they want to help you as much as possible! But they are also trusting you to care for their kids so you have to be trustworthy. You can always shoot them a quick text to ask if you can take them to the park, or pop some popcorn for a movie day!
Keep an eye out for cheap crafts and games in stores
You gotta keep things interesting! Kids are so easily bored sometimes and it can be hard to think of new things to do. I try to keep my eyes peeled if I’m ever in craft stores or even Target for cheap little fun activities! If there is a holiday coming up, you can almost always find holiday themed games, crafts, and activities! I bought these cute Thanksgiving crafts for $1 at Michael’s a few weeks back and I’m waiting until after Halloween to do it with them! I also bought some paint, a few stamps and brushes, and a huge art pad from Hobby Lobby probable about 6 months ago and we have reused it multiple times since! They love making pictures and they don’t get it all the time so it’s always special when we do. Just be sure to double check with mom, especially if you are at their house! It can get messy! I always lay down this old plastic table cloth where ever we are going to paint and have a roll (or two!) of paper towels on standby.
Be as patient as possible
It’s not always rainbows and sunshine. Kids are difficult. Just like us, they have bad days and good days. They have mood swings. The difference is we are old enough to understand why we are in a bad mood and they aren’t. Which adds to their frustration. Try to be understanding. Try to be patient. Of course, I mean this within reason. Sometimes they just push back to see what you’ll do. Choose your reaction carefully. Don’t yell and scream. They definitely won’t listen, you’ll just scare them. Just be patient, try to calm them if they’re upset, diffuse the sibling fight, or whatever the issue is. Keeping patience is key! I’m not saying it always is easy, but if I feel my patience slipping, I just take a deep breath and reassess. This brings me to my next tip.
Stand your ground
While being patient, it’s also important to realize that when they do something wrong, you have to do something. It might be a good idea to talk to the parents to see how they want you to handle it if things get out of hand. Don’t be scared! They know how their kids are and they know stuff just happens sometimes. I always start with a warning like “Don’t do that”. Inevitable, they won’t listen but at least you warned them. If they keep doing what I said not to, I say “I asked you nicely not to do that. Please do not do it again or you’ll come sit with me for five minutes” or some variation of that. Take away time from their tablets. If they flat out do not listen, I often play the “Okay I’ll have a talk with mom” card. It usually works to get them to stop. I hate to say that but sometimes you do what you have to do. But also, don’t be afraid to ACTUALLY tell mom. If you’re telling them, for example, not to ride their scooted or whatever into the road for their safety, and they aren’t listening, you need to tell her. They could get seriously hurt. While you are not their teacher or parent, you are the authority figure for the time you’re there and they need to listen. Most times, parents will help you out on this because they want you to watch their kids! Just use good judgement on what warrants sitting out for a few minutes, getting tablet time taken away, and actually having to tell mom.
Keep them occupied
THIS TIP could be the most important. Well maybe not most, but it’s such a HUGE tip. Keeping them occupied = less boredom = less chance of a meltdown = less stress for you. If you don’t really have anything happening, the kids can get rowdy with each other, they can get delirious and crazy, etc. My kids that I watch love to eat when they’re bored, which is during that time that mom is almost back home to start dinner, so I try not to let them eat (unless its healthy, like an apple). They’re tired from school and now they’re bored, with nothing to do, and I won’t let them have all the food they want (which is almost always cookies, chips, and candy, all at the same time). Thus, we have a meltdown and they’re upset with me. BUT if I keep them occupied, like letting them look at themselves with the funny filters on Snapchat, they’re occupied, happy and laughing, happy with me, and their mom comes home to good moods as opposed to bad ones.
Try to be quick on your feet
This will come in handy in a lot of situations. Coming up with a game, a Plan B, anything really. Look on Pinterest to see what kind of games you can play with little supplies! Also look for stuff to do on rainy days. One time, it rained a whole week and we were stuck inside. We had a movie day, played hide and seek in the dark, played bowling with cups and ping pong balls and got really creative! One day, one of them just couldn’t be satisfied with anything we had to play so I made up a lonnnnng scavenger hunt list of things like the letter B, six shoes, the color purple, etc. that I knew was in the house and if he found them all I let him have a marshmallow! This was a big hit (he told his parents about it) so I have that as a backup boredom plan!
Utilize your resources
This is dependent on the family you are babysitting for but I drive my kids around all the time. We’ve been the the park, a snow cone place, many fast food places with a playground, one park with a splash pad and a train we rode, the pool, the movies, etc.! A lot of those things we did in the summer and we had to find more things to do! But if it’s okay with their parents and you can drive, see if you can find new and kid safe/ kid friendly places to go! Bonus if it’s educational! My dad is a paramedic so he told me to bring the kids down to the station and we walked through the whole facility and they got to sit in all the different ambulances which they LOVED! They had such a fun time and got to learn and see hands on what paramedics do for people! They even got stickers, some coloring books, and little paramedic badges! So just be creative and use what you have and the people you know!
Be silly and have fun
This is actually the most important tip I have for you. Don’t you remember your babysitters when you were little? I mostly was watched by my grandparents but I had a couple of sitters. I remember them always playing with me or letting me help them do something for them. They made me feel important and not like I was annoying them. Strive to be the “cool” babysitter. Be the babysitter that lets them have a marshmallow for a prize, the one who has random dance parties, comes up with cool new games and places to go. Be a kid at heart. You want these kids to grow up and look back at how lucky they were to have you as a babysitter or nanny!
I hope these tips have helped you and made you more excited about babysitting! It’s definitely hard work and not easy (anyone who says it’s easy must have perfect children) but in the end it’s worth it! Its so worth it to see the smiles on their faces! Do you have any special tips or tricks to babysitting? I would love to see what y’all have to say!