Molly's Adventures

Babysitter Handbook: 5 Common Mistakes that Babysitters Make

For those of you who know me well, I have been babysitting almost every week {sometimes up to 5 times/week!} since I was 12 {that adds up to about 208 weeks!}. I am now 16 and also have 6 younger siblings, crazy, I know. In conclusion, I have lots of experience with little ones.

I always get questions from friends like, “what do I need to bring?”, “what do I wear?”, “should I plan crafts?”, etc. While those are all GREAT questions, I feel like they are all overthinking it! Babysitting is so much fun and in my experience, it has been a pretty good “career” for my teenage years and has definitely been a better job choice for me, rather than working at a fast-food chain like most teens. {I am in no way saying that babysitting is above working at Chick-fil-A or McDonald’s, in my opinion, I prefer babysitting over working in a resturant}. I really enjoy getting to know each child and playing and having fun with them!

I would love to help you out and explain some of the do’s and don’ts of babysitting, to help you feel more prepared and excited for the next time you have the opportunity to babysit! These are also great reminders for experienced babysitters/nannies too!

  1. Planned Activities – Yes, this is good for some kids but when you plan a whole day full of crafts, bubbles, chalk and everything in between, you’ll drive yourself crazy. Early in the game, I would try to keep the kids as busy as humanly possible but it’s not good for you, the babysitter. If you babysit for only one or two hours then sure, plan a craft or game if you want but what kids like most, is one-on-one playtime and attention. I nanny for two little ones every week and they LOVE playing in their tiny kitchen, they “make food” for me, we have picnics, and make “waffles” all the time. They can sit and play there for a whole hour sometimes!
  2. Bringing Snacks – Yeah it might be a nice treat but normally, families have certain snacks that their kids can have. Another reason that you shouldn’t always bring snacks is because you might not know what they are allergic to. Always take caution when bringing a fun snack, text the mom beforehand to make sure it’s okay!
  3. Leaving the House a Mess – I cannot stress this one enough, 9 times out of 10 I ALWAYS make sure that the house is mostly picked up and that everything that we were playing with while I was there is picked up and put away, as well as any dishes that were used before the parents get home. Try to include the kids in cleaning up, because it is partly their mess and it is good for them to learn that they need to help around the house too. It’s always nice to come home to a picked up house. There can be certain times when moms say not to worry about it but even then I still do my best to clean up after the kids. The biggest thing is to always put the kids first and their needs above making sure the house is sparkly clean because your main job is to attend to the needs of the children. But when the kids are napping or watching a movie, you can make the effort to clean up a little.
  4. Getting Paid Minimum Wage or Less – This one is HUGE. When I was new to babysitting, I accepted any pay that I could get. I would babysit 4 kids for 2 hours for $15… Now that I look back on that I realize that it was a serious mistake. Minimum wage was $7.25 in 2013 {the year I would get that pay} and if we do the math, I was earning a whole $0.25/hour more than minimum wage, but if we also take into consideration that I was watching 4 CHILDREN, that isn’t a lot and you have to have the mindset that time is money. This was rough for me to grasp but once you realize that, you won’t waste your time babysitting for “x” amount of hours and get paid close to nothing. This is YOUR business and your job! Don’t be afraid to inform parents of your hourly rate and make sure that you raise your rate $1-$2 per kid, you don’t want to be earning $10/hr for 5 kids. No bueno. Also, make sure that you have the same rate for all families. For a babysitter hourly pay guide, check out this post!
  5. Being the “Fun” Babysitter – This title is a little deceiving but it is very important. Don’t be the babysitter that lets the kids jump on the couch and do things that their parents would not allow. You can’t let the kids walk all over you. This is most commonly seen when kids are around the ages of 5-10 years old. “Get me this, get me that.” “Pick up my backpack.” “Go make me a sandwich.” Make sure to set some “ground rules” with kids. Make it clear that the rules aren’t any different with you than they are with their parents. Make sure that you still have fun but that you are respected. Remember that you are not their maid or personal chef.

If you make any of these mistakes, do not think that you aren’t a good babysitter. I was once making all of these mistakes!! Babysitting doesn’t have to be a hard job, just remember to have fun with the kids and to keep them safe!

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