Whether you are doing it to earn a little extra pocket money or helping your sister so she can hang out with adults for a change, Samreen Samad tells you about the basics you need to know before babysitting
Babysitting a young child, whether it is a sibling or a neighbour’s child, requires a few skills and lots of patience. You need to learn how to calm a child, help them with homework, change a diaper and feed a fussy eater. Here are a few tips that will help you carry out the job efficiently.
Check your calendar to make sure you are available and ask the parents what time you’re needed. In case you are not sure, let them know so they can make other arrangements and save them the frustration of last minute changes.
Arrive on time
Make sure that you are punctual and arrive on time or a few minutes early. If it’s your first time, ask questions to find out about the child’s routine and eating habits.
Take down important phone numbers and the address and phone number of the place the child’s parents will be. We know we’re being paranoid, but it helps to have the child’s blood type, doctor’s name, number, address and any other medical information at hand. It’s a good idea to keep numbers and addresses of grandparents or relatives who live close-by too.
Walk through the house and do a quick safety scan. Understand the door lock system and shut doors of rooms you don’t want the children to go into. Look for hazards such as hanging electrical cords, medication, matches, pointy objects and other things that can be dangerous for children. Also, never answer the door unless you are expecting someone and open it only when you’re sure it’s that person.
Abide by rules
Make sure to ask the parents about any special household rules or off limit areas. Also, ask in advance if you can do things such as cook, use the television, computer and phone.
eyes on them
Always keep an eye on the child whatever you’re doing. Don’t doze off or get too involved on a phone call or while watching TV. The child should be your first priority, so never lose sight of him or her.
Plan in advance what you’re going to do while babysitting. You can try making puppets with the child out of paper bags or help him colour a colouring book. Be interactive and patient. Play their favourite game, but make sure that whatever you do is absolutely safe.
Play with them
Children love playing! Don’t be afraid to let out your inner child. Play positive games and make sure that the child doesn’t get sad. Children want a fun, caring and attentive babysitter; try to be that.
Put them to bed
Put the child to bed at the time his parents want him/her in bed. Don’t let them stay up late. Put the child to sleep at the same time he or she always sleeps at. You can read him a bedtime story or sing a lullaby. If a child throws a fit, give him a stuffed toy or lie down next to him. Make sure you stay in
the room even after the child has fallen asleep.
Try to clean up before the parents get home. Pick up the toys and dishes and put them in their proper places. Parents will really appreciate this as no one wants to walk into a messy house. Don’t leave until the child’s parents are back.
Babysitting is a tiring job that requires you to be attentive and patient. But, when the child asks for you the next time his or her parents are going out... well, you can’t beat that feeling!