to Professional Childcare!
Teenage Babysitters- 10 Tips to be a Better Business Person Through Babysitting!
So, you are a high school or college babysitter? Or maybe you know one, or use one occasionally. Maybe your friends have some that they rely on occasionally. Babysitting is mutually beneficial for families and sitters alike. Parents need some time away, and sitters can appreciate the extra income!
There are almost 8 million Google hits for “How to babysit,” so I won’t cover that. I am certain by now that you already know the basics of safety, changing diapers, proper child interactions, and cleaning up after yourself and the child. You will read articles on putting the cell phone away, bringing activities with you, and how to improve relationships with parents of the child that you sit for. However, I will focus my tips on how to be a better business person as a babysitter. Make more money, enhance better relationships, and build solid life skills.
In the past few months, I’ve interviewed hundreds of sitters, now 18 or 19 years old, claiming to have 6 or 7 years of babysitting experience. But when asked for specific references, they are unable, or uncomfortable to provide. I understand that many start by watching their little cousin(s), which is a common and comfortable first start, and which may or may not be good job training. However, when you get older, many families want to know that you have paid experience in someone else’s home, being slightly uncomfortable, always aware, and ready for anything. There is a clear difference, and the more time you put into developing great skills now and building your brand, the easier it will be down the road to set yourself apart from the competition!
So take a peek at my top picks for how to become a better business person through babysitting. I’ve included some basic tips, as well as some advanced level tips for the more seasoned sitters!
1) Get Safety Training – For obvious reasons you need this, but this skill also makes you more marketable to potential families. By having first aid and CPR training, you will feel more confident on how to handle any potential emergencies that may arise. Families will have a greater trust in you, and if you play your cards right by following the additional tips below, you can use this to earn more money. Some local recreation centers, hospitals or fire stations may offer teenager babysitting courses, or you can see if either of these are local to you: www.safesitter.org or the BLAST program through www.aap.org. Advance Level – Ask if these courses provide an actual certification or just an overview. If you receive a certification, keep this on file and current. If you are over 18, it may be worth a few extra dollars to take a live FA/CPR (infant/child) training with certification, most sitters will make up this cost in the first babysitting job or two. This is great life training and will help you earn more money just by having this certification under your belt!
2) Customer Service – It is very important for you to provide exceptional service that will keep the parents asking for you to come back. This sounds obvious, but were you on time, and did you leave the house as clean, or cleaner than you found it? Did you return any change from the pizza delivery guy? Have you communicated just the right amount with the parents to meet their expectations? Have you engaged and tired out the kids? Will the kids give a positive review about your performance? Advance Level – Children love to play with new and someone else’s toys, so communicate with the parents ahead of time of what the children like to do, then bring with you some toys, pictures to color, or activities that you think the children might enjoy. You don’t have to spend much money to put a smile on the child’s face when you walk in the house.
3) Clarify Duties and Expectations- Prior to the parents’ big night out, ask very specific questions for clarity about what is expected. How much, if any TV/video game time is allowed? What time are the children expected to be in bed? Do you answer the house phone? Advanced Level – Keep an open, running note of your family in writing or in your phone where you keep track of feeding and bed times, favorite foods, parent’s discipline techniques, etc… As you grow your babysitting empire, you may forget certain family’s expectations, so make you take great notes and WOW them next time you arrive so Mom doesn't have to repeat all the instructions!
4) Ask for feedback- As an adult, you will be rated and appraised for every job that you do. Why not start learning about this now? After you’ve worked for a family, ask them for feedback on how you can do better next time. Did you leave on every light in the house when they came home, or disposed the diaper in the wrong container? Did the kids appreciate the games you played, or should you come up with something new next time? After you receive feedback, take action to improve it! Advance Level - Create a (free) survey that you can send to the family the day after sitting. Thank the family for their candid feedback and then make any adjustments in your next visit. Keep your notes in the same file as tip#3 above!
5) Solve Problems- You are in charge, act like it! Parents are putting their trust in you to supervise their children and resolve minor discrepancies. Don’t text Mom when little Johnny and Joanie are fighting over a game, throwing food, or having a meltdown that you took away their toy. You may cause unnecessary panic that cuts their night short! Quickly analyze the situation, stay calm, and use your best judgement to resolve the situation. When parents come home, feel free to recap the situation for them, and summarize your actions, and ask if they felt you acted appropriately considering the circumstances. In the working world as an adult, your boss will have the same expectations that you can resolve minor conflicts on your own, and know when you truly need her involvement. Advance level – Come prepared! There is a wealth of information out there regarding managing conflict and helping little ones solve problems. Sign up for websites or blogs to help you build some additional skills. A great place to start is right here: https://www.himama.com/top-25-early-childhood-education-blogs-2017
6) Know your numbers! My niece watched our kids recently, at our request. When I asked her how much she expected to get paid, she said “Whatever you want to pay me is fine!” I understand wanting to stay humble, especially around family or neighbor, but DO NOT get taken advantage of. You may help out sometimes at a free or discounted rate, but be certain in advance which you are signing up for. Know in advance how much you are getting paid, don’t guess or leave the parents decide! Advance Level- Know the going rates in the area. How much are your friends making, where are the great jobs at? You can search childcare sites to see how much other families are offering. So if you are a seasoned sitter, and your normal rate is $9.00/hr, but you see other families paying $11.00, don’t be afraid to ask for the higher rate. Many families will consider paying this increase, especially if they know and trust you with their children.
7) Build Your Resume – Keep track of the families that you work for, including the ages of the children, activities performed, and the contact info for the parents. What year did you start/stop working for them? Can you use the family as a reference for your interactions with children? Will these families write you reference letters that speak towards your interactions with their children? Keep this information all in one place, so that you can access it easily when needed. Spending a few minutes NOW to keep track of this information will save you hours later trying to research those numbers when you really need them. Stay organized, be prepared. Advance Level – Presenting a resume will be expected as an adult, regardless of your profession. It is a common and expected form of your work history. So whether you want to just pick up some extra babysitting jobs through college, or work in childcare full time, you should always have a resume handy that you can customize and prepare within minutes. When that perfect opportunity comes along, it might be too late if you have to start from scratch.
8) Create your brand- Start with printing some business cards. You can even print these yourself from templates available at your local office supply store. Create a catchy name, like: “Sitting by Sara,” or “Chloe’s Childcare!” Note your age, experience, and typical available hours. Leave cards at the houses after you sit for and ask those families to share with their friends. Advance level – Find local companies, café’s, libraries or community centers with bulletin boards where you can pin up your card. Even approach the managers and offer your services to babysit should they have special events that you can help with. Libraries and community centers are often looking for help with different events.
9) Expand Your Network – Be proactive with your current families and ask them if they need your help anytime soon. On days they do not need you, let them know that you are open to work for any of their friends or neighbors that might need a sitter. If you are a great sitter, some families will be very protective of you and not want to share! That is a good thing, but most understand that you may need to work, even on days that they don’t need you, so ask if they can spread your name to their network when others are looking for a sitter. Advance Level – When you get a referral from somebody, let them know you appreciate it. A hand-written note, a phone call, or a small gift may be appropriate when someone directs additional business your way. However, when people are not acknowledged for sending customers to you, most likely they will stop doing so. Take care of the people that take care of you!
10) Money management – What goals do you have? How are you accomplishing them? It is so easy to take that $20 and rush to meet your friends for ice cream or the latest lipstick color. But what if you should be saving this money for college, or for that summer trip? This is your business, so treat it like one! Keep track of your hours worked and how much you make at each job. Are you saving enough money to reach your goals? Do you need to work more hours? Charge more money? Get another job to help? Advance level – Write your goals down, keep track of each penny that you earn, and spend. By knowing exactly where your money goes, you can make smarter decisions to help reach your goal.
If you follow these tips above, you will be miles ahead of your competition in building great relationships and making more money as a babysitter. Along the way, you will also improve life skills in these disciplines: Goal setting, money management, sales, marketing, customer service, and general organizational skills.
Whether your career ambitions are a childcare professional, banker, nurse, teacher, business woman, astronaut, or anything you set your mind to, by developing great habits now, you will be setting the stage for success later on in life.
If you are a seasoned caregiver, it’s also not too late to start following these tips. I’ve even coached tenured childcare providers into how to better complete their childcare resume!
Please share this article with all that you feel can use this advice.