If you’re babysitting to earn some extra money or help out a friend, you might be feeling a little bit overwhelmed. How on earth are you going to keep a toddler entertained for hours on end without experience of looking after kids? Fear not: the chances are that it’ll be more straightforward than you first thought; we’ve put together some tips to give you a headstart.
Try not to panic
Okay, let’s start with the most important point: it’s vital that you don’t panic when you’re on babysitting duties. We get that it can be a little overwhelming and perhaps scary if you’ve never looked after a child before, but if you’re sensible and calm, very little can go wrong! We recommend having their parent’s phone numbers on speed dial, and perhaps an additional emergency number or contact should you have important questions to ask.
Set some rules and boundaries
Whether you’re looking after one year olds or five year olds, setting some boundaries when they arrive at your house is a good idea. Be clear that you won’t allow screaming or bad behaviour and encourage them to be on your side. Be firm but fair and try not to come across as too bossy; if you’re relaxed and show them you’re in charge, you’ll be just fine!
Get to know them first
Where possible, it’s always a good idea to spend some time getting to know the children you’re going to be babysitting when they’re around their family. That way, they’ll get to know you, can learn to trust you, and it won’t be awkward or uncomfortable when they’re left under your care. Perhaps head to their house and offer to read them a story to introduce yourself.
Prepare some entertainment
The key to successful babysitting is having the right tools – and one of those is lining up some entertainment options so that the child doesn’t get bored or distracted. Perhaps you can ask their parents to bring some of their favourite toys and games that you can play together, and of course, letting them use their iPad will no doubt keep them occupied for an hour or two. We also recommend checking out the free kids cartoons from Everything’s Rosie; you’ll have hours of fun entering Rosie’s world and getting to know her friends.
Follow their parent’s rules
Something else to consider is following the same rules and parenting styles as their parents; for example, it would be unwise to give the children sweets or fizzy cola an hour before bed if their parents expressly forbid it. The same is true for bedtime routines. Doing what their parents tell you to do will ensure consistency and stop the children from going off the rails.
Do you have any other tips? Let us know and check back soon for the latest!