What To Bring When Babysitting
Babysitting can be a rewarding and fun job with flexible hours. You get paid to either play games with kids, or to put them to bed then just watch TV for a few hours. It doesn't get much easier than that! Of course, you do have some responsibilities though. This article outlines everything you should bring to have an enjoyable and safe time.
TIP: Before going babysitting, check how you will be getting home.
Paper and pen
When I used to babysit, first thing I would do is bring out a piece of paper and make sure I had the mobile phone numbers of both parents, as well as the number to wherever they were going. Of course, you don't need to bring your own paper and pen, but I find sometimes that the parents are in a huge rush to leave and don't have time to rummage around for a paper and pen. It shows initiative if you have thought ahead to remove a bit of stress from them, and reassures them they have found a responsible babysitter.
It also may be a good idea to write down any special notes, such as:
- what to do if the phone rings?
- any allergies?
- where are the first aid items?
- what to do if the kid/baby won't stop crying
- any other special instructions
TIP: Keep this paper somewhere safe so if you baby sit them again, you don't need to re-ask all the basics. Always check that the mobile phone numbers haven't changed, though.
Band Aids / First Aid
If there is an accident, the last thing you want is to be looking for medical stuff you can't find. Of course, asking at the beginning is a good idea, but it is easy to forget little pieces of information when being bombarded with it as people are when they babysit.
By bringing some basic first aid objects with you, you can have peace of mind that if something does happen, you'll be prepared.
TIP: Kids love band-aids with cartoon pictures on them! If you bring these, the kids will be happier after an injury... however, they may want more band-aids for everything from a pinch to a tummy ache.
Like with first aid stuff, the last thing you want to be doing in an emergency is locating and figuring out how to use a strange phone. This is also good to have another channel of communication between you and the parents if they need to contact you and the house phone isn't working for some reason.
TIP: Make sure you have credit!
Like it or not, sometimes TV sucks. When the kidlets are asleep, being along in a strange house can get dull. Bring something to keep you entertained just in case. For example:
- nintendo ds, PSP, etc
TIP: Perhaps leave your iPod at home. If the kids need you, you should be able to hear them.
Something to distract the kiddies
Like it or not, sometimes children are absolute gremlins. They can throw tantrums, be whiny, be bossy etc. They pay a lot of attention to you because you are a novelty, their new "toy" so to speak. You can divert this attention if wanted by bringing them another toy to play with. Board games, stuffed toys, trains, blocks etc. Anything's fine!
This will make you popular with the kids, which will also mean you're more likely to be asked back. If you want, you can take it to the next level and bring a box of toys with you when you babysit, and have it filled with things like stickers, paints, board games, bubbles etc that you rotate in and out of the box (so things don't get repetitive for kids you look after a lot). This way when you babysit the kids always have something to look forward to. Look in your attic for some old toys that can have a new life!
TIP: If babysitting more than one kid, make sure the toys are fair. You don't want arguments to start! Also, depending on the age of the kid, beware of choking hazards.
A Warm Jumper
If you haven't been to the house before, you don't know what awaits you. They may have no heating. You might not be competent enough to turn the heating on. Or their house could be entirely made of glass, which makes things very cold. Make sure you will be comfortable by wearing a nice fleecy jumper.
TIP: While we're on the subject of clothes, don't wear anything low cut. Not appropriate. Also, runners are a good idea in case you have to go to the park or on a walk with the kids.
This is a personal preference of mine, because I absolutely hate the idea of leaving the house with a dirty dish or glass, but I also don't want to wash it myself and do a job not up to their standards. So I avoid it by bringing my own water bottle.
Even if you don't have my weird hang-ups, you should still consider bringing one, so that even if the house is filthy and you don't want to drink from a glass of theirs, you still have access to water.
TIP: If you are a person who enjoys eating snacks, maybe bring some of your own food as well. Most people say that you can "make yourself at home" and "eat whatever you want", but if you demolish their entire refrigerator, don't expect a call back.
This can be used for buying the kids a little treat if you want, like ice cream while going on a walk (always check if this is okay first), or for change in case you need it at the end of the night when getting paid.
TIP: Bring a few coins for a public phone or bus ticket. You probably won't need it, but if the parents get home drunk, and you don't want to get in the car with them, being able to phone home or catch a bus is a good idea.
Some General Tips
- Don't swear in front of the kids! Last thing you want is them learning some new vocabulary on your watch.
- Never let them out of your sight, unless they're sleeping. Never underestimate the mischief they can get up to. Games like hide and seek should be played with extreme caution.
- Don't be boring! If they're awake, play games! If you play the right ones, chances are you'll enjoy them too! Relive your childhood!
- Safety always comes first. It's understandable that you want to have fun, and it's fine (actually, it's really good. If you play with the kids you're better than every baby-sitter I ever had when I was little) but at the end of the day, your real purpose there is to make sure the kids are safe.
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