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How to Help Your Child Adjust to a New Babysitter

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When it’s time for mom and dad to run errands, splurge on a date night or head to the office, it can be stressful to worry about child care. However, when hiring a babysitter whom the children love and one you trust, it can bring a sense of relief knowing your children are in the best care and happy with the new sitter.

Ensure that your children will adjust to a new babysitter by taking it slow and arming both the sitter and the children with creative activities and helpful strategies.

Prepare for the Sitter

When bringing a new babysitter into your home, you first need to have a thorough interview followed by a trial meet and greet to ensure the sitter is going to be a good fit for you and your family, says Robert Nickell, father of seven and founder of Daddyscrubs.com. During the meeting, observe how your children interact with the new babysitter and spark up discussions about your child’s interests so the sitter is aware of your child’s passions.

“Give your new sitter the inside scoop, along with tricks and tips that you know work or don’t work for your child,” says Nickell.

Share information about your daily routines, too. “Make sure that the new sitter fully understands your daily routines,” says Nickell. “You can create a sense of normalcy by sticking to a consistent routine.”

For example, if you sing a special song when changing diapers or putting your child to bed, the caregiver should be encouraged to mirror such behavior, says Natasha Eldridge, founding partner of New Jersey-based educational firm Eldridge Overton Educational Programs. “The parent should tell the child that she is going to meet a new sitter who doesn’t know their song and have the child ‘help’ the sitter learn the song in the parent’s absence,” says Eldridge. “This sets the stage for the child and sitter to bond while offering a comfort to the child.”

Make sure you compile a babysitter binder that includes important phone numbers, meal ideas and activity ideas. “This seems to be a helpful resource for nannies and sitters to use while they’re settling in,” says Nickell.

Most importantly, ease your child into getting to know your new babysitter gradually. “Talk to your child about the transition and introduce your child to the sitter in a positive manner,” suggests Nickell.

Make it Fun

If your child is apprehensive to a new sitter in the home, Eldridge suggests expressing the need to get to know new people to preschool or school-aged children to help them open up to a new babysitter. Make it fun by asking the sitter to bring crafts or activities to keep your child engaged.

Age-appropriate activity books, small toys and games will show your child that the sitter is there to have fun with him or her. You can also put together a babysitting basket full of games and activities that are reserved for when the babysitter comes to stay with your children. Access to these toys will not only excite your child but leave her eager to see you leave and the babysitter arrive.

Start Small

If your little one is clinging to your leg and missing you before you step out the door, help her adjust by taking baby steps. “Start small and work your way up to longer hours away from the home,” suggests Nickell.

Begin with a sitter session while you are still in the home. For example, have the new babysitter play and interact with your child while you complete household chores, work from home or prepare meals. With you in close proximity, your child will still feel secure while getting to know the new babysitter.

Gradually work up to short trips outside of the home. “Before leaving each time, the parent should remind the child how special she is to offer comfort; thereby, alleviating any attachment issues that may potentially arise, suggests Eldridge.

When your child realizes that you will be home shortly and that your love is reassured, he or she may be more willing to let go of your leg as you attempt to walk out the door. This strategy will pave the way for a better adjustment when you will be leaving for longer periods of time.

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100 Ways to Help Your Child Choose a Career Path

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You might not think you need to have the career path talk with your child until high school, but in reality, it’s never too soon to start brainstorming different options. This doesn’t mean you need to sit down and have a serious conversation about the type of career he sees himself in, though. Instead, talk to him about the different jobs he sees on a daily basis, ask him about what excites him and encourage him to follow his passions. All of these things can make it easier to define what he wants to do in life once it’s time to start narrowing down the careers he’s actually interested in pursuing. For more help on assisting your child in defining a career path, check out these 100 blogs.

Dream Big

Throughout your child’s life, encourage him to dream big and believe that the sky really is the limit. Use these 10 sites to help your child see the world as his oyster, ready for the taking.

  • Everyday Life encourages you to travel with your child to expose him to new and different things.
  • Plant the idea of going to college to obtain a successful career early on, suggests Great Schools.
  • Visionary Mom recommends letting your kids see you work towards different goals and pursue a career you love.
  • Remind your child that he can do anything he puts his mind to, advises Wall Street Journal.
  • Read to your kids often to open up their imaginations and show them that all things are possible, says Ericka Jefferies.
  • The Seeds Network suggests helping your kids create a dream book where they can think about what they want to be, where they want to live and what they want to have.
  • Avoid discounting a dream that your child has. Instead, The WM Parenting Connection advises supporting the dream by taking your child to lessons or buying books on the subject.
  • Let your child try his hand at conquering smaller dreams and help him achieve small successes, encourages Teenmania.
  • Encourage your child to be whoever he wants to be, counsels Essential Kids, because tomorrow’s leaders are today’s dreamers.
  • Give your child a piece of paper and ask him to write down his dreams, no matter how big or small, then discuss them together, recommends Brian Upshaw.

Give it a Try

As your child gets older, keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities for him to experience various careers and encourage him to talk to professionals in fields that interest him. These 10 blogs are full of ideas on how your child can try out different careers.

  • Recommend that your child volunteer in the field he is interested in, says eCampus Tours.
  • Encourage your child to take a part-time job in an area that he finds interesting so he can learn more about the field, advises America’s Career Resource Center.
  • KSL explains that ‘take your child to work day’ gives him a chance to see what you do and ask questions.
  • Set up an informational interview with someone in the field he is interested in pursuing, suggests Career Planning.
  • Suggest trying an internship in an area that he is interested in, like this Environmental Educator position for Solar Youth that takes place after school, on weekends and during the summer.
  • Watch videos from Kids.gov that show and describe various jobs to see if any of them seem interesting to your child.
  • According to ABC Local, Kidzania is a new concept in amusement parks that allows kids to try out adult jobs.
  • Find people whose careers your child admires and have him ask them if he can shadow them at their job for an hour, a day or longer, suggests Forbes.
  • If your child thinks that a career in acting might be for him, suggest he go on some auditions, like the ones mentioned on Ace Your Audition for Disney.
  • Let your kids try jobs like dog walking, pet sitting and lawn mowing if they express an interest in working with animals, with their hands or in nature, advises Kidzworld.

Do Your Research

Before deciding on a career path, it’s important to research the salary, availability, benefits and other pertinent details about each job that your child has an interest in. These 10 websites can help you and your child do just that.

  • Find websites like Happy Living Magazine that examine various interests and explain jobs that cater to those interests.
  • Your child can break down his research into areas of interest and explore jobs from there using the University of Sussex site.
  • If you are working with a young child that doesn’t have any idea what various jobs entail, take him through Career Kids and watch videos about different career choices.
  • Psychology Today explains how to find jobs that utilize what you’re good at and fit your personality.
  • Find a list of suggested areas your child should explore when considering a career path on Sallie Mae.
  • Encourage your child to look into sites like Career One Stop, where he can read about various careers and then find out what kind of education is needed and what salary he might expect to earn.
  • Take a look at your child’s interests and recommend that he explore jobs that relate to the things he already likes, explains The De Paul Career Center.
  • Finding a job that suits your child’s skills and disposition is not always enough; University of Waterloo recommends also looking at the job market.
  • Help your child ‘map’ his career on Career Ship. This site has a unique way of steering people to the right career path for them.
  • Tufts University provides a list of sites that are broken down into different fields so you can easily research various jobs with your child.

Narrow the Field

Middle school is a good time to start narrowing down career choices based on your child’s strengths and the subjects he likes. Use these 10 sites to help.

  • Look through occupations and determine more specific job titles on Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • Let your child explore various career choices to help narrow his search, suggests Know It All.
  • The Art of Manliness explains how your child can start to narrow down his career choices.
  • Help your child create a career path using the tips and suggestions made on Education Bureau.
  • Talk to your child about his general preferences, such as whether he sees himself working inside or outside and by himself or with a group, advises Today’s Parent.
  • Encourage your teen to check into a career counseling center to talk to an expert who may be able to help your child narrow his choices, suggests Omaha.
  • Provide your child with news stories and articles that detail interesting jobs, explains Priston 30.
  • You can help your child by providing the tools for him to determine what he has an aptitude for and then encourage him to look at jobs that use those skills, recommends Christian Science Monitor.
  • Explain to your child that certain occupations require relocating, says eHow. If your child doesn’t want to relocate, that may help narrow his search.
  • Sometimes your child may be able to narrow his choices down to general areas, like marketing or management. Rasmussen College explains how to further define which field to go into based on information about both fields.


Ask Questions

These 10 sites are packed with questions and answers to commonly asked questions regarding different careers. Finding answers to these important questions may help your child determine if the job he thought he wanted is the right one after all.

Take a Test

Your child can take some fun aptitude tests on these 10 sites to help narrow down his career choices based on his interests and strengths.

  • If your child isn’t sure what he wants to do, you may want to recommend that he take an interest test on Future Morph to help narrow the field a bit.
  • Often, personality plays a role in finding the career that is right for your child. Encourage your child to take a personality test at Team Technology.
  • Make it a game. Show your child the MU Career Center site where he can play a game to match interests and skills with various careers.
  • What Career is Right for Me has an aptitude test that allows your child to self-assess his skills and determine jobs that might interest him.
  • Get your child to take the True Colors Career Personality Quiz to see what type of person he is and where his strengths lie.
  • Your child’s career values also play a role in determining a career path. Suggest that he take the career value test on Stewart, Cooper and Coon.
  • Help your child figure out what career would be right for him by taking the Type test shown on Career Test.
  • Ask your child to take a few minutes and answer the questions on the Jung Typology test on Human Metrics to determine his personality and jobs that might fit him.
  • This five-minute Color Quiz may help your child learn something useful about his personality that he can then utilize to find a career.
  • Let your child try the fun skill test on Skill Cow to determine what job he is meant to have.

Make a Plan

Once you have a general idea about the career path that’s right for your child, it’s time to map out a career plan. While this plan will likely change and evolve as he gets older, it will also serve as a road map he can use to obtain his desired career. Find sample career plans, ideas and suggestions in these 10 articles.

  • As a parent, you can invest in your child by buying something like the Kuder Navigator that will help you and your child plan a career path.
  • You can find assistance on making a career plan with your child by reading School A to Z.
  • It’s important that you help your child focus on his values and needs when making a career plan, explains Duke Tip.
  • You might find the career planning checklist for parents from CSBSJU useful when helping your child figure out what he wants to do with his life.
  • Kansas City Kansas Public Schools offers 10 steps for parents that will allow them to make a career plan with their child.
  • Learn how you can help your child with his career plan. Massey University explains that you will have many roles over the years as a parent.
  • According to Yahoo Voices, it is becoming increasingly important to have a career plan for your child at a relatively early age.
  • School Counselor explains that kids are influenced by their parent’s job experiences and by what opportunities might open up for your kids due to your job.
  • As a parent, it’s important to keep an open mind and to not push your own agenda on your child. You can find more tips for helping with your child’s career plan on Career Cruising.
  • On Café College you can find a sample career plan that will provide you and your child with a visual on how to set up a career plan.

Build a Strong Work Ethic

Having a strong work ethic is integral to your child’s career success; however developing one isn’t always easy to do. Use these 10 blogs to help cultivate a solid work ethic in your child.

  • Develop useful habits with your child that will translate to the future, such as cleaning up after himself and taking care of the dog, suggests Mom Me.
  • It’s important to give your child chores, according to Child Development Institute, because it can help him learn a strong work ethic.
  • Parents can teach kids to have a strong work ethic by modeling it, teaching it and rewarding it, says Everyday Life.
  • Getting kids who grew up with money to learn a work ethic can be difficult, so The Wall Street Journal recommends making them get a summer job or live on a budget.
  • Start early by teaching your child to pick up after himself and do chores around the house. Hold the kids accountable for the things you ask them to do, suggests Crosswalk.
  • Take the time to explain why working around the house is an important part of being a member of the family, says Better Homes and Gardens.
  • When building a work ethic, you will have to give tasks to your kids that they may not do well at in the beginning. When this happens it’s important to have patience and tolerance, explains Keeper of the Home.
  • Work alongside your child when they are working so they can see that you are working too, advises Education in America.
  • Let your kids fail. Encourage your kids to work hard, and let them suffer the consequences if they don’t, advises iMom.
  • Nobody said that work can’t be fun. The Kenworth suggests letting your kids use My Chore Chart, which is an app that makes doing chores fun.

Learn Career Tools

Writing a cover letter, formulating a resume, composing a formal email and acing an interview are all essential tools your child will need to learn before he starts pursuing a career. Take a look at these 10 blogs for more information on how to learn these useful skills.

  • Your child will need to learn how to write an effective cover letter; Vanderbilt University explains how.
  • Writing a resume that will land your child a job can be difficult; find the tools to do so on Career Kids.
  • There are many components to a resume; VUMI explains 10 vital things to include.
  • Microsoft offers online and classroom training for various software programs that you may need during your job search.
  • With the Path 2 Careers site your child can discover jobs that may exist in the future.
  • On Snag a Job your teen can learn the skills to do well in an interview by knowing what to expect and how to be prepared.
  • Interviews can be tough, so having a site like Education that details the entire interview process can be useful.
  • In this age of technology, your child will need to know how to send a business e-mail to colleges, prospective internships and more. Check out South University for tips on sending an appropriate e-mail.
  • Getting an internship is a great way to try out a career. Use Intern Match to help your child find a suitable one.
  • The tools on Check Out a College can help your child explore careers, find a college and get started in the right direction.

Learn to Network

According to Wake Forest University, 70% of jobs are obtained through networking, which is a compelling reason to learn how to network well. These 10 articles will give you and your child some tips for how to get started and how to be successful at networking.

  • Encourage your child to read the article How to Network Like a Pro on Business Insider.
  • Read Internships to break networking down into actionable steps your child can follow to start networking immediately.
  • This article from New York Times explains the mutual benefits of networking.
  • One important part of networking, according to Business Balls, is creating an ‘elevator speech’ that explains who your child is and lists his strengths.
  • Chapman University explains the importance of listening to others and leaving a good impression while you network.
  • When networking, your child will need to make sure that he reaches out to people in as many social or business circles as possible, says CIO.
  • Your child’s instructors are important to include when networking because they are already well-versed in their particular field, explains Loyola.
  • Make sure that your child knows what he is looking for when he starts networking. If he is vague or unfocused when he calls people, he could leave a bad impression, warns Help Guide.
  • Before networking, it’s important to make sure that your child is well informed about the industry, advises Emory.
  • You’ll find several tips for networking in college on this article from US News.
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Building Your Babysitting Reputation

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Once you’ve decided to expand an occasional night here or there watching kids into a real babysitting business, it’s crucial that you build up your reputation. Watch as your job offers soar with these tips to enhance your reputation as the go-to-sitter of choice.

Take It Seriously

If you want babysitting to be a full-time business – or even just a reliable part-time money maker – you need to treat it just like you would any other job. Get your certifications in order, keep them current and mention them when talking to prospective clients. Consider joining LinkedIn, where you can not only list your experience and credentials (include any child development courses taken, along with CPR/First Aid, etc.), but also ask parents for recommendations that will be easy for them to complete. These will then be verified by the LinkedIn system as proven real professionals and easily viewed by others.

Check Your Attire

First impressions are important and a big key to the parent-caregiver relationship is trust. Don’t test that by opting for questionable choices in your clothing. If you arrive in heels, super low slung jeans or in a less-than-conservative length or too nice skirt, it doesn’t lend credibility to the idea that you’ll be sitting around the coffee table playing a game or crawling around engaging the kids at their level. You should also make sure you aren’t sporting any logos or messages that could offend parents. Showing up in a casual but professional outfit is going to let the parents head out on their evening feeling comfortable, without any lingering doubts about how kid-centered you are.

Take Referrals with a Smile

When building both a business and a reputation, sometimes sacrifices need to be made. It might be worth giving up seeing that new movie on a Friday night to accept a referral and expand your client base. Sitting for multiple kids in a social group can also keep your name at the top of the list since kids tend to share their preferences with each other.

Leave your Problems at the Door

If you’ve had a personal upset, are going through a breakup, had school or car issues or are suffering from anything else that’s negative, take a deep breath and find your happy place before knocking on the door. Faking a smile as the parents head out isn’t going to cut it if you’re short-tempered or emotional around the kids because of outside issues. Be professional and focus on having a good time with the kids, who did nothing to deserve the fallout of your problems. Remember, kids report back to their parents, often in surprising detail.

Maintain an Appropriate Online Presence

In a field where your reputation has a direct effect on your moneymaking potential, make sure your online presence is something to be proud of. Your Facebook friends might enjoy pics of a wild girlfriends’ night out or bikini clad selfies, but that sort of vibe isn’t bound to impress parents. If you want to keep that sort of account and lessen the risks clients might happen onto it, consider skipping any ties to your name – just keep in mind that’s not a foolproof solution.  Additionally, off color jokes and political or religious talk could turn off parents and kill your income or dry up your client base without you even realizing what happened.

Highlight your Achievements

The flipside of the online pitfalls is the easy availability of a public platform to share your positive feedback. Consider starting a website for your business. A free, easy-to-use Tumblr can be a good option, with the only cost being a few bucks a year for your domain name. Offer your contact info, credentials, rates, availability and samples of fun things you do or games you play with different age ranges. Also consider uploading photos of seasonal crafts you’ve done with kids in you care. Keep a notebook and ask clients to sign a quick recommendation or reference. They’ll respect your proactive nature and you can post those to your website for others to see, skipping last names and just listing the ages of the children (i.e.  “John and Judy, parents to a 6-month-old and 4-year-old”).

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Fun Things to Pack in Your Babysitting Bag

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Before heading out to babysit for a full day, or even just a few hours, it’s important to be prepared with activities, games and supplies that will keep the kids in your care occupied and entertained.

“A great babysitter comes well prepared,” says Natasha Eldridge, founding partner of Eldridge Overton Educational Programs, a New Jersey based educational services firm.

Get Crafty

When children get whiny or bored, break out a babysitting bag stuffed full of age-appropriate crafts, recommends Eldridge. “Rainbow loom bracelets can keep a school-aged child occupied for hours,” she says.

Consider packing the following items in your bag to help the little ones get crafty during your stay:

  • Yarn and Ribbon
  • Glue Stick
  • Construction Paper
  • Kid-sized Scissors
  • Buttons, Plastic Eyes and Beads
  • Crayons, Washable Markers and Colored Pencils

From a silly construction paper hat to a yarn necklace complete with beads, you can teach your children how to share the supplies from your bag and create masterpieces to show off to mom and dad.

Fitness Friendly Fun

Help children burn off some energy by packing some fitness friendly supplies for the day. From a jump rope to a basketball or Frisbee, teach the kids some new moves while babysitting. “They should embrace teachable moments, such as when playing with the child at the park or in the yard,” says Eldridge. “The babysitter can encourage the child to participate in physical games like jump rope or basketball.”

For the sports enthusiast, you may need a bigger bag to house wiffle ball bats, balls, tennis rackets and other equipment that will keep them moving.

Treasured Toys

Even though the children you are watching may have an entire room full of toys, something new and shiny from your bag will likely catch their eye. Eldridge suggests picking up a doll or small toy from the dollar store to help break the ice at the start of your babysitting job. A board game or puzzle peeking out from your bag may also intrigue the child and calm him or her when mom and dad leave for the day.

“Tongue twisters, puzzles and games like Twister and Connect Four are always safe alternatives to violent video games,” says Eldridge.

Finding out more about the child’s interests and developmental level prior to the babysitting gig can also help you pack their favorites in your bag. According to Parenting Expert David Bakke, a contributor to MoneyCrashers.com, his 3-year old son is much more drawn to toys that involve activity. “He is no longer interested in watching a motorized car go across the living room floor,” says Baake. “He wants toys where he can actively participate in the “playing.” Frisbees, toy musical instruments, other sporting-type stuff, and fantasy-fighting items (plastic swords for example) have really done the trick lately.”

For teeny-tiny ones, Baake recommends toys that will stimulate the senses. “If the potential new toy doesn’t have some kind of light or make some kind of noise, its chances of success go down tremendously,” he says.

For older children, pack washable tattoos or stickers with the parents’ approval, says Baake. “You could also bring along some books written for kids and read to them aloud,” he says.

First-Aid First

Beyond the fun toys, crafts and sports equipment, babysitters should also be prepared to respond to emergencies with first aid items packed away in the babysitting bag.

Should an accident occur, experts at Nemours KidsHealth recommend packing the following in your first aid kit:

  • first-aid manual
  • sterile gauze pads of different sizes
  • adhesive tape
  • adhesive bandages in several sizes
  • elastic bandages
  • a splint
  • antiseptic wipes
  • soap
  • antibiotic ointment
  • antiseptic solution (like hydrogen peroxide)
  • Hydrocortisone cream (1%)
  • acetaminophen and ibuprofen
  • tweezers
  • sharp scissors
  • safety pins
  • disposable instant cold packs
  • calamine lotion
  • alcohol wipes or ethyl alcohol
  • thermometer
  • tooth preservation kit
  • plastic non-latex gloves (at least 2 pairs)
  • flashlight and extra batteries
  • mouthpiece for administering CPR (can be obtained from your local Red Cross)
  • your list of emergency phone numbers

Whether you experience an afternoon of fun or a few cuts and bruises that need mending during your babysitting job, preparation is key to keeping the children in your care happy, healthy and begging for you to come back soon.

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What to Put in Your Babysitting Bag of Tricks

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Forget the spoonful of sugar! Today’s sitter has to pack her bag of tricks with a higher caliber of fun to really wow her charges (and their parents).

Here are a few suggestions broken down by age on what to bring to your next gig:

Birth to One

Bubbles: There’s a reason a certain popular play center ends each session in a whirl of iridescent popping fun. Bubbles are always a hit, and new non-spill, mini-blower kazoos and baby-safe versions make this activity pop out as a clear winner.

Juggling Scarves: These lightweight, colorful swatches of fabric provide endless possibilities for games of peek-a-boo, reach and grab, where did the toy go, etc. and after you clock out you can pop them in the washer for your next client.

Two to Four

Take them to the (Pipe) Cleaners: Crafts and sculpting are loved by kids in this age group, but the thought of ground-in-the-carpet playdough makes offering three dimensional art opps a nightmare. Wrap a pipe cleaner around a finger and add the spiral as ‘hair’ to two dimensional portraits or pick up dry pinecones in the backyard as creature bodies to wrap with pipe cleaner “legs”. Office stores carry them at a few bucks per 100 giant furry, bendy straws (roll the tips to avoid pokey metal bits). Or, invest in the fat and fluffy commercial version if you’re confident everyone understands they are a temporary plaything.

Musical Instruments: While parents often coo in adoration at their baby’s first foray into the music world on pots and pans from the cupboard, by the preschool years, they’re likely over the joy of loud noise for the sake of noise. Score big points with little ones by arriving with an assortment of musical merriment and lead a parade. Add in a World Music cd as background and you’ve introduced a new culture, too.

Five to Seven

Salt Dough Clay: Forget the small, overpriced sets of modeling clay and relax with a flour-salt-water concoction you can whip up in advance (it keeps great when sealed in a Ziploc in the fridge). Add a few drops of food coloring while mixing or leave natural for more involved sculptures, with a potential to paint later. Parents will love that their kids got artsy in their absence and since it’s a food-based mixture, you can use kitchen utensils and rolling pins without pricy clay implements (and clean up’s a snap). For thin pieces (like rolled out ornaments, coasters or magnets), air drying for a couple of days does the trick. For thicker sculptures, beads to make jewelry, or mini-boxes, bake the items in the oven at 200 degrees until done (cover with loose foil and check to avoid browning). Offer to bake them at home and bring them back for next time to score a second visit.

Photog Session: Although they might be well acquainted with standing in front of the lens, invest in an inexpensive digital camera and put them in charge of the shoot. Perhaps it’s a fashion show of furry models (whether of the pet or stuffed animal variety), or maybe they want to shoot their favorite leaves and flowers in the yard. Bring a printed out version to caption next visit or forward their digital journal to their parents with an ‘I had so much fun!’ note to make a big impression.

 Eight to Ten

Bouncy Balls: These little rubbery orbs are a fan favorite at this age – just make sure they’re not of swallowable size if there are toddlers around. If there’s a brick wall in the vicinity, ask the kids to show you the ropes in a game of playground-craze Wall Ball.

Paper Airplanes: It might sound retro, but pick up a paper airplane design set or book and you’ll be amazed at how hi-tech these flying recyclables have become. After the initial investment of the book or set, all you have to do is restock paper. Sciencey kids will enjoy how physics comes into play with the simple tweak of a tail or whir of a wing. Artsy kids might spend more time decorating than folding. Games-minded kids will enjoy a little friendly competition against their sitter or siblings, where kids of mixed ages have a slightly leveler playing field. Put hula hoops, laundry baskets or circular targets made of twine in the backyard and let the tournament begin. Up the ante and play marble-style, where the winner confiscates the loser’s jet to use for the next round.

Magazines: For rainy days or mellow kids who prefer lounging to doing, subscribe to a few kid’s magazines to keep stashed in your bag. National Geographic Kids, Sports Illustrated for Kids and Discovery Girl Magazine are a few quality publications with content geared toward this age.

Eleven and Up

Circus Arts: When parents return and ask you how it went, you can say “it was a circus in here” without killing your chances of a repeat gig. Look for a free workshop or checkout online videos to learn how to use small, portable circus art devices like the Diabolo Yoyo or a set of tasseled Devil Sticks. These fun and challenging skills are a little addictive, so in a work environment where an older child has a greater say in who keeps an eye on things you could set yourself up for an encore performance. (And mom and dad will be so happy they kept their hands off the video game controllers, you might even see some tip action.)

Signed Books: At this age, you’ll have sporty kids who just want to be outside, kids you’ll need to engage in outings to keep them from being glued to their PlayStation, and kids that just want to be left alone to read a good book. Make an impression, and develop a nice little lending library, by keeping an eye out for book fairs and author signings. These events are often free, and you can pick up a copy of a popular author’s book and have them sign it to ‘the best babysitter ever’ or similar. Connect with, impress and inspire new young bookworm friends with the tale of how you met so-and-so – and if you sense they are reliable, let them borrow the book (opt for the cheaper paperback versions just in case though!). This should result in at least being hired for a second visit – parents love literacy.

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Coping With Your Child’s Separation Anxiety

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It’s natural for children to seek comfortable environments. They may want to stay at home with you versus climbing on the school bus for the first time, or even cling to your leg when introduced to new people.

According to Dr. Wendy Rice, Florida-based licensed psychologist, separation anxiety is common in a child’s development. They don’t want to see a parent disappear from sight because they like the comfort and nurturing their caregivers provide.

Many children, though, struggle with separation anxiety that can lead to social problems, a fear of being alone and an inability to act independently. You can help cope with these anxieties through strategies that will reassure them that the love they crave will be waiting when they return.

The Signs and Symptoms

According to California-based psychotherapist Christina Steinorth, a child with separation anxiety will feel an intense fear of being physically apart from a parent. “There will be a very unrealistic fear that they are going to be abandoned or for some other reason unable to see their mother again,” she says. “Sometimes, the child will feel that if he or she is away from mom that something bad will happen – kind of like the separation will bring her harm in some way.”

Steinorth cites the following symptoms parents and caregivers should learn to recognize:

  • Excessive distress when separated from you
  • Reluctance to go to school or other places because of the fear of separation
  • Reluctance to go to sleep without you nearby
  • Worry about losing you or harm coming to you

Separation anxiety is not gender specific, says Steinorth. “It affects just as many girls as it does boys,” she says.

Separation is often more difficult when it is prolonged (overnight or longer), when it occurs abruptly and the child is not prepared for it or when the child is left in unfamiliar surroundings and with unfamiliar caretakers, says Rice.

Helping a Child Overcome Separation Anxiety

The key to helping a child cope with separation anxiety is to prepare for the separation, build mutual confidence between the parent, caregiver and child and ensure a joyous reunion.

Rice suggests starting small in situations when your child must be away from you. “Practice short separations,” she says. “Encourage short stays – even just 10 minutes, with a sitter or another adult and eventually increase the distance and the length of time.”

Try to avoid overnight separations until your child is older and make time to talk with your child about the separation by detailing the schedule, who will be caring for him or her, where you will be and when you will return, suggests Rice. “Use language that is simple and straightforward and use a positive tone of voice.”

Providing the child with advance notice gives him time to talk about his worries and allows you the opportunity to inform the substitute caregiver about your child’s personality, likes and dislikes, specific worries and fears, daily routine and strategies to soothe him.

If possible, send along a favorite toy, book, photo or audio recording of you singing or talking to your child, says Rice. “Use a transitional object that the child can use to help sooth anxieties by being reminded of your love,” she says.

According to Steinorth, there are three additional factors that can help a child work through separation anxiety:

  • A child needs to trust mom will return
  • A child needs to trust caretakers other than mom
  • A child needs to feel safe and secure in his or her home environment

To help your child feel safe and secure, Steinorth recommends minimizing any stressful situations at home and practicing consistency with schedules.

Diminishing the Dramatics

One surefire way to ignite and fuel your child’s separation anxiety is to make a production when leaving. “Excessive hugging, reassurances and stalling before leaving will only increase the anxiety your child feels,” says Steinorth. “When you do these things, you’re reinforcing your child’s anxious behavior.”

Don’t feed the behavior. Instead, help minimize it by making your departures without fanfare. Leave when you say you are going to and just do it,” recommends Steinorth.

If all else fails and your child is not responding to behavioral interventions, the help of a professional counselor may be necessary. “It would be a good thing to talk with your doctor to explore possible treatment options that may include counseling and treatment with anti-anxiety medications,” says Steinorth.

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How to Make a Good First Impression on a New Babysitting Job

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There are few positions in the working world that carry the same depth of trust as a babysitter. Parents rely on their babysitters to care for both their children and their home, keeping the most precious elements in their lives happy, healthy and safe. The key to starting off a successful babysitter/parent relationship is doing everything you can to give the parents confidence that you are up to the task of caring for their children so that they can fulfill their own commitments, whether it be work-related or social, without having to worry about the quality of care their children are receiving. Once you’ve achieved that, you’ve likely achieved job security, too, as not only will your  phone number be the first they dial in their time of need, but they’ll also share glowing recommendations with  their friends and family members to help expand the roster of children you care for.

Use these tips to kick off your new working relationship on the right foot.

Ask Questions

Don’t feel like you’re putting off the parents by reaching out before the event to ask a few questions, or that you might come off as less-than-a-pro by wanting more details. They’ll be impressed that you are taking the gig seriously by doing your homework to make sure things go off without a hitch.

A standard list of questions might include:

Are there any food allergies I should be aware of? Ensure you know how serious any allergies are, what signs of affliction their child first exhibits and re-educate yourself on how to use an Epi-pen and where a phone is in case of emergency.  If there are life threatening allergies, you might want to reconsider what you eat before arriving, wash your hands thoroughly and remove that chocolate nut granola bar that lives in your purse for emergencies.

When is bedtime and what is their usual pre-bed routine? This way you won’t be hoodwinked if the parents forget to tell you something or if the child is insisting that you find “Fluffy” the stuffed bunny or the one book that sends him off to dreamland without fuss.

What are your rules about media use? Parents usually hit the big items – where food is, what the kids can eat, when they should go to bed and screen time limits – but might not hit particulars like whether Youtube is acceptable, what channels are a no go, or which of the cache of video games is reserved for dad or a teen sibling.

Do the kids have a favorite topic, character or interest? Maybe they’re obsessed with trains, maybe it’s Elmo, or maybe they are nuts for football. Knowing this will allow you to spark a conversation with the child to make a connection (and perhaps distract them if they are upset at handoff) and will give you a frame of reference, such as sending the choochoo-fork into the “tunnel” with a bite of peas.

Is there anything else I should know? This is a parent’s opportunity to fill you in on quirks their kids have – no food touching each other, they sleep with full lights on, they sob as if life is over when a sibling pesters them but stop within 12 seconds when they stop, etc. or of any recent family issues that could affect their mood (the family pet passed away the week before).

Be on Time

A smooth handoff does not include upset and stressed parents rushing out the door in a panic as their kids scream for them because you hit traffic or had to stop for gas. Parents are hiring you because they have to be somewhere else at a specific time. If this means you arrive 20 minutes early and park up the block for a “Words with Friends” session to kill the time, so be it. Ringing the doorbell five minutes early impresses them with your promptness (and allows for clocks to be slightly off) without leaving them to try and answer the door and be host with a curling iron in one hand or a half-buttoned shirt. This also gives them enough time for last minute instructions without being rushed.

Put Away Your Phone

If you are meeting the parents in advance to discuss the position, leave your phone off and stowed. When babysitting, you are doing a job – one that someone trusts you to do with your full attention. Popping onto your phone for a quick text or chatting away with a friend as you fix the kids a snack could not only distract you for longer than you realize, it could also take your eyes away from a dangerous situation with a little one. If nothing else, parents will often ask kids if their sitter was on their phone during the visit.

Do Not Cancel

Few things are less forgivable in the babysitting world than cancelling, especially last minute. This should only happen in dire, dire situations. If there is a true family emergency, or you picked up Strep from the little one you cared for earlier that week, let them know as soon as humanly possible and offer contact info for a replacement along with that babysitter’s qualifications and references. If you are ill, but confirmed as not contagious after a doc visit, let them know in detail the situation and let them make the call on what they are comfortable with (still offer an alternate). If you accepted a job and cancel, be prepared with the possibility of not being invited back.

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Five Things the Mom You Are Babysitting for May Not Tell You

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Parents often want your services just as much as you want their gig. However, in their eagerness to land you, you might run into a few surprises when the big day arrives. Be it by denial or desperation (wearing a three-year-old on one leg is not considered appropriate gala attire), most parents are guilty of favorably coloring their little darling to prospective caretakers.

Being forewarned is being forearmed, so check out this list of common babysitting surprises.

You’re the Heavy

Mom has left you a list clearly outlining her expectations. It details things to be accomplished by the child, bedtimes and snacks. Great, right? Until you find out that your detailed to-do’s have never been done before. Maybe it’s an innocent misunderstanding; she might see you as the ultimate pro – your Mary Poppins’ bag has all the secrets to teach her Velcro-kid the mysteries of round-the-tree-through-the-hole shoelace-tying, right? But maybe mom’s just not a “math” person, so she slyly shifted dividing-fraction-duty your way.

How to deal: Give the child some exposure to the requested tasks in a fun way or let him help you complete them, then gently explain to the parents upon their return that you find consistency the best way to ensure a positive babysitting experience. Let them know you don’t want to create confusion by teaching him something in a different way than the parents would do it.

Sugarcoating their Eating Habits

You open the fridge and neatly laid out is a plate of steamed broccoli, a pan of tilapia to pop under the broiler, milk and a loaf of twelve grain bread for toast. Perfect – until the child stares blankly at the broccoli and asks why the milk isn’t brown and the toast isn’t white.  Panicked, you worry the child will starve, until she assures you she is still full from the juice boxes and cupcakes she had before you arrived.

How to deal: Make it a fun challenge to at least try bites of the new foods, then find the healthiest compromise the child will eat. Upon the parents return, suggest they try new foods on the child in an atmosphere she might be more comfortable with, such as a family dinner, so you don’t run into any unknown allergies… and so she doesn’t see you as the bad guy and damage your babysitter-child relationship.

10:00pm might actually mean 10:20…

You watch the clock. First 10 minutes goes by, then 15. The phone rings with a “we got tied up, we’re just around the corner!” Half an hour later, you hear the car pull up. There’s a reason most daycare facilities institute a hefty fee by the minute for late pickups, along with a three strikes you’re out policy.

How to deal: Explain  that you understand that things pop up, but that your own responsibilities require you to have an accurate idea of when you’ll get home (your own children waiting for you or your vehicle, getting your work/homework done, your parents are concerned about late night driving, early morning at work or school the following day). If you have flexibility, institute a ‘late fee’ hourly rate with no partials, or an escalating fee policy where your hourly rate doubles after 10pm to encourage timeliness.

Monsters Under In the Bed

Bed at 8pm? Great, plenty of time to catch your favorite show or tuck into the book you brought along. Until his little jaw drops as you walk in bearing PJs, he wails, “But I don’t go to bed until 9:30!” and then he runs screaming through the house, laughing hysterically while tossing teddy bears behind him to deflect you before hiding in the laundry hamper.

How to deal: Institute quiet time for the night at the requested hour, pick out some picture books for the child to flip through or lower the lights and trade thoughts of snuggling into your own book for a nice long chapter book to read aloud. Upon the parents return, suggest the need for consistency to keep those little body clocks synchronized.

Little Quirks Can Be Much More

As the parents are leaving, mom tosses a breezy mention to not worry about any ‘little quirks’ you might run into. As frustrated tantrums and inconsolable wails escalate, you quickly realize there are more serious issues at play than your typical kid-response to pouring the juice into the wrong cup or cutting a sandwich into triangles instead of rectangles. You suspect more than overtiredness or that she’s coming down with something.

How to deal: Depending on the severity of the reactions, you might need to put in a quick call to mom for strategies to calm the child – or even insist on her return if you are concerned about her safety or well-being. If mom is unreachable, she might have left a back-up list of family members to call in an emergency. A call for insight might be a good compromise. If you are equipped and want to continue the relationship, a higher pay rate might be appropriate.

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100 Things All Babysitters Should Know

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Working as a babysitter can be a great way to earn money while having fun; however, not everyone is cut out for the job of caring for kids. What should you know if you’re going to take on the task? Here are 100 things all babysitters should know.

Child Safety

Your number one priority when babysitting is to keep the kids in your care safe until the parents return. It seems simple enough: you play with a child, give him a snack and send him off to bed; however, it rarely happens that way – even for parents. Kids are curious by nature, and are predisposed to get into everything and explore. Sometimes that’s good, but it can also lead to dangerous situations if you take your eyes off of the kids. For tips on child safety, take a look at these 10 sites.

  • According to Virginia Tech’s Babysitter Guidelines, you should never leave a young child alone while she’s awake and you should check on her from time to time when she’s asleep.
  • Don’t give the kids medicine, food or drink unless told by the parents to do so, says University of Michigan Health Systems’ Babysitter Safety.
  • Make sure that you know the parents’ full names, the kids’ names, the address of the house, the closest cross street, emergency phone numbers and a way to contact the parent in case of an emergency, per Children’s Safety Zone.
  • Avoid texting or answering your phone while you are watching the kids, so that you are able to keep your full attention on them, says Kids Health.
  • Be aware of poisons and always know the number to the poison control center (1-800-222-1222) should a child ingest something that may be poisonous, recommends the American Association of Poison Control Centers.
  • Lock all doors and windows and don’t open the door while you are babysitting, suggests Safe Sitter.
  • Know where the smoke detectors are and how to reset them should they go off when it’s not an emergency. Before resetting a smoke detector, walk all around the house inside and out to make sure there is no smoke, urges PBS Kids.
  • Do not allow a child to roughhouse, jump on beds or play around doors, as injuries are more prone to happen during dangerous play, explains Save a Life.
  • Don’t allow children to play on or around the stairs because the last thing you want is for someone to fall down the stairs, warns Minnesota Safety Council.
  • Keep all dangerous items, like scissors, sharp pencils, knives and others, out of the reach of children, recommends Kid Money.

Emergency Preparedness

More than likely, an emergency won’t arise while you’re on the job, but you need to be prepared just in case one does. What would you do if the fire alarms started going off and you saw smoke coming from the laundry room? Talk to the parents before they leave to learn what they have told the children to do in case of a fire and find out where they keep the fire extinguisher. For information on what to do in an emergency, check out these 10 sites.

  • Keep a copy of this Babysitter’s Training Emergency Reference Guide handy when you are babysitting, suggests Red Cross.
  • Know where the first aid kit is and how to handle a minor emergency should one of the kids fall down and get hurt, recommends Kidz World.
  • Create a babysitter preparedness tool kit for each babysitting job so that you have all important information at your fingertips should the need arise, directs the National Disaster Preparedness Training Center.
  • Ask the parents to show you where the fire extinguisher is and to explain to you how to use it in case of an emergency, says Children’s Hospital Colorado.
  • Sign up for a CPR and first aid training class at your local YMCA, hospital or Red Cross, suggests Sanford Health.
  • Take the American Red Cross Babysitter’s Training Course, urges St. James Parish from the Department of Emergency Preparedness.
  • Get a medical history to find out if the child has any allergies and have it on hand in case an emergency arises, says the Houston Chronicle.
  • Have the parents fill out a babysitter checklist, as found on My Planning Lists, so that you can be prepared in the event of an emergency.
  • Take a class where you can practice emergency drills so that you know what to expect if a real emergency comes up, says Baby Med.
  • If at any time you are worried about the safety of the children and yourself, don’t hesitate to call for help, explains Judo Info’s Safety While Babysitting.

CPR First Aid

While it’s not required, you should consider taking a babysitting class and a CPR/first aid class. Not only will you be more prepared in case of an emergency, but you will be more qualified as a babysitter too. You may get more jobs if you are considered more prepared and more responsible. These classes do cost money, but consider it an investment in your new babysitting business. These 10 sites will explain the kinds of things you will learn in a class, give some basic first aid tips and explain how you can build your own first aid kit.

  • Young children tend to put everything in their mouth and there’s always a chance that he will find a small item on the floor and choke on it. Taking a basic first aid course will teach you the Heimlich maneuver so that you can save the child’s life, indicates Inpulse CPR.
  • If you have several choices of where you can take a CPR course, you may want to check out what the course covers, like the one listed on HSI.
  • Make sure that the CPR class you take covers CPR for children and infants instead of just on adults, as the methods are very different; see a course description on YMCA Dallas.
  • CPR and First Aid Courses can typically be taken by children 11 years of age and up, according to McGregor Institute of EMS.
  • Learn more about CPR and First Aid training by reading the course descriptions on this site by Spark Family Enrichment Center.
  • Keep in mind that classes vary and some include just babysitting or just CPR, while others, like this one on Real Life CPR, include babysitting, First Aid and CPR all in the same class.
  • Read and print this list of first aid tips from Lanark County Ambulance and keep it with you while you are babysitting so that you can refer to it in an emergency.
  • Review this guide about basic first aid from Steady Health and learn what you should do for basic cuts, scrapes and burns and when you should involve a doctor.
  • Online first aid classes are available if you do not live near a facility that offers training, like American Health Care Academy. There is a cost to this course.
  • Learn what you should include in a first aid kit that you can take with you when you are babysitting, as described by the Mayo Clinic.

Home Hazards

Different houses have different hazards that you’ll need to be aware of as a babysitter. Before sitting for a new family, be sure to access the home for hidden and obvious dangers. Learn more about potential home hazards by reading through these entries.

  • Read through this list from Parents of 10 surprising safety hazards that can be found in the home so that you can be aware of these things to protect the kids.
  • Make sure that you are aware of any water hazards that may be around the home, whether it’s a swimming pool, baby pool, backyard fountain or a toilet, says Healthy Children.
  • Be aware of these 12 hazards that may not be listed elsewhere, like a dog that snaps, toddlers standing in the tub and others, as listed on Baby Center.
  • If you babysit a child in your home you may need to be aware of how to baby proof your home to keep kids safe, says Baby Proofers.
  • Many hazards are hidden; here’s a list of five from CBS News.
  • Houses are full of hazards, which is why it’s so important that you watch the kids at all times, especially around stairs and water. Check out this list of other hazards to keep in mind, as described by International Association for Child Safety.
  • Top injuries to kids, according to the Home Safety Council, are falls, poisoning, fires/burns, choking/suffocation and drowning.
  • Everyday Life writes about hazards that are found in the home that you as the sitter should be aware of so that you can limit the chance for injuries.
  • Magnets might be one of the most hidden hazards in the home since they can be swallowed, as discussed on Voices.
  • Avoid window blinds with long cords that could be a choking hazard for small children, explains Green and Save.

Developmental Milestones

These sites will give you some insight as to what kinds of things kids do at different ages. This information will help prepare you with activities you can do with each age group. Once the parent contacts you about babysitting you will need to ask how many children you will be watching and what their ages are so that you can research age appropriate activities. The more prepared you are when you arrive at the job the more impressed the parents will be and the more likely you will get a call back next a sitter is needed.

  • The Centers for Disease Control have a site where you can check developmental milestones by age.
  • The University of Michigan describes milestones for gross motor skills, fine motor skills, language, cognitive and social skills.
  • Every child is different when it comes to developmental milestones, says Child Mind Institute, but these professionals provide a range for certain milestones.
  • Learn more about what a developmental milestone is and why knowing about them is important, per Psychology.
  • Check out this basic timeline of developmental milestones from WebMD, so that you are aware of what activities you can plan to do when you babysit.
  • Look over this list of skills arranged by age from Pretend City, which can help you determine what you can do to entertain a child while babysitting.
  • Familiarize yourself with why milestones are important, as determined by Virginia’s Early Childhood Development Alignment Project, and what some milestones are.
  • Download this developmental milestones chart to include in your babysitting binder so that you will have an idea of where a particular child should be, according to The Institute for Human Services.
  • Take a look at this chart from American Speech-Language-Hearing Association to learn about developmental milestones.
  • Baby milestones may be important if you will be watching an infant on a regular basis while the parents are at work; find helpful information on Bounty.

Food Safety

If you babysit for more than a couple of hours, you will probably be asked to feed the kids a meal. It’s possible that the parent will order pizza or give you money to order pizza to be delivered. If that’s the case, you will need to make sure that you cut the food up into small bite-sized pieces to make sure that the child doesn’t choke. You may also be asked to microwave dinner for you and the kids, and in that case you need to be aware of how hot the food is before serving it to the kids. Find more tips on food safety in these articles.

  • Probably one of the most important food safety tips is to wash your hands before preparing food for the children, as listed in a Guide for Babysitters from the North Dakota State University.
  • Smother a pan fire with a lid instead of dumping water on it, according to Young People Can Help the World Too.
  • The Allergy Free Table has a downloadable action plan for coping with food allergies during a babysitting job.
  • My Fearless Freddy has a list of 51 babysitting tips, which includes keeping kids out of the kitchen when you are cooking to avoid an accident.
  • Be sure to ask the parents about any meals or snacks that you are expected to fix for the kids and find out if there are any food allergies, says My Child Safety.
  • Make sure that you keep knives and any other food prepping equipment out of the reach of small children, as recommended by Urban Next.
  • If you prepare food on the stove, make sure that you turn the handle of the pan toward the stove so that a little one cannot grab it and cause an accident, says Super Babysitting.
  • Be careful about the food that you feed the kids and yourself. If you are unsure if the food is safe, it’s best to throw it out or avoid eating it says Safety.
  • Babysitters Texas suggests using only the back burners on the stove and to double check to make sure everything is turned off before leaving the kitchen.
  • Print this Food Safety chart if you will be cooking for the kids on a regular basis, as it gives all sorts of food safety guidelines.

Basic Infant Care

Unless you have infant experience, you’ll want to be sure to brush up on your baby care skills. Make sure that you know how to change a diaper, feed and burp a baby and lift and carry a baby safely. Gently bouncing a baby as you sway back and forth is soothing, but under no circumstances should you shake a baby for any reason. If you find yourself getting frustrated with a screaming baby, call a parent or nearby adult for help. Taking care of an infant can be overwhelming, so don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. Tips and videos for caring for an infant can be found in these 10 listings.

  • Review these tips for caring for an infant on What to Expect to learn the proper way to diaper, swaddle, hold and feed an infant.
  • If you are nervous about taking care of a baby for the first time you can train on a Real Care baby doll from Reality Works.
  • Learn how to properly feed and burp an infant by reading this basic infant care article from Pregnancy Magazine.
  • Watch this brief video on how to pack a diaper bag on New Parent Resources if you will be taking an infant to the park or on other outings with older siblings.
  • Learn how to put an infant to sleep and get her to go back to sleep after a diaper change by reading the tips on Parenthood.
  • Knowing how to dress an infant so that she is neither too hot nor too cold can be difficult. Read the tips found on Advanced Pediatric Associates.
  • Take a look at this list of facts that will clear up some misconceptions about caring for an infant on The Informed Parent.
  • This article from Baby Zone shares the answers to some commonly asked questions about infant care that may come in handy when you are babysitting an infant.
  • Learn how to properly pick up a child and how to hold a child among other things listed on So You Wanna.
  • Watch this video on how to put a newborn to sleep, as seen on Hub Pages.

Basic Toddler Care

Caring for a toddler is different than caring for an infant or older child. For example, toddlers are developing their eating skills and will want to feed themselves. Toddlers also like to put everything in their mouth as a way to explore their surroundings, so you will need to be very attentive to the toddler to make sure that you pick up small items before he can put it in his mouth or remove the item if he happens to find something hidden under the couch. Toddlers love to be read to, so you may want to bring along some different books to read, as well as ask the toddler for his pick. Check out these 10 sites to learn more about toddler care and activities that you can do.

  • If you are babysitting a 12 month old you can try rolling a ball to him to catch or provide blocks for him to stack, according to NNCC (National Network for Child Care).
  • Encourage toddlers to move and dance to music, as suggested by Child Action.
  • Toddlers have unique personalities, which make identifying with each one challenging. Take a look at the differences and the recommendations for caring for particular children on the Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning.
  • Review this article to learn what a toddler should be eating and how to handle a picky eater, per Cleveland Clinic.
  • Toddlers should be drinking from a cup and eating table foods according to Children’s Mercy. Encourage the use of a kid-sized spoon or fork.
  • Look at the activity ideas on this article for cheap and easy things for toddlers to do, as suggested by Mommyish.
  • Family Education has a bunch of suggestions for activities to do with a toddler, so take a look and see if you have supplies for any of the activities.
  • Make a point to keep track of Toddler Toddler, as it contains 350 games, activities and crafts that you can do with a toddler.
  • Sometimes toddlers want to play by themselves, and these independent play ideas from Toddler Approved might be things he would enjoy.
  • Read through these unique ideas for entertaining a toddler, like having a blindfolded taste testing of foods to see if the toddler can guess the food, found on Little Daily Planner.

Basic Preschooler Care

Preschoolers love to mimic their caregivers, whether it’s a parent or a babysitter. Be aware of this and don’t get upset or feel like she is being disrespectful. Kids also love to feel like grownups at this age, so feel free to give her tasks like taking her own cup to the sink after snack time and picking up the toys with you. She can even try her hand at sweeping up the kitchen or dining room after snack time. It doesn’t matter if it’s perfect and you can go back and redo it later if you need to. Giving her a sense of accomplishment is important at this age. You should also bring along an age appropriate craft or game to play. These ten articles will give you ideas on what you can bring along.

  • Involve preschoolers in everyday activities, liking picking up toys and setting the table, says Canadian Living Moms.
  • Actively listen to your preschooler to learn what is upsetting her and try to work out a solution where she makes the suggestion, urges the Iowa State University Extension.
  • Read about cognitive development and milestones for preschoolers on About Our Kids and use them to better understand and care for the child.
  • Milk or water should be the beverage of choice to maintain a healthy preschooler, but be sure to find out what the parent wants you to serve. Find other food recommendations on the American Academy of Pediatrics.
  • The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia says that it’s important that a preschooler eat only while sitting down to avoid choking.
  • Preschoolers need a consistent routine when it comes to when meals and snacks are served, according to the Region of Waterloo Public Health.
  • Try some of the preschool activities recommended by The Stay at Home Mom Survival Guide with the child you are caring for, which includes being creative with a box.
  • Take your preschooler on a hunt for numbers around the house or take a walk. Hands on as We Grow has listed 40 number activities for preschoolers that might come in handy.
  • Leap Frog has listed several preschool activities that are simple activities you can bring along when you babysit, such as jelly bean counting.
  • Play school with the preschooler by using one or two of the activities listed on Angel Fire that allow the preschooler to feel proud for being able to do school stuff.

Basic Elementary School Care

School age children need to be supervised and kept engaged. If you are tasked to help them with their homework, be sure you’re eager and willing to help. Older kids are capable of making simple dishes, so bring along ideas for some healthy snacks, like ants on a log that he can help you make. Other games and activities for this age are recommended in these 10 posts.

  • Make homemade puffy paint with your elementary schooler. You probably have all of the supplies at home already and this paint can be used on any type of paper, says the Project Bus.
  • Use some of the activities that Parenting Miracles say are perfect for elementary students and will keep them busy for a little while, such as writing numbers as high as they can in sidewalk chalk or playing a card game.
  • Bring a roll of painters tape to your babysitting job and let the kids make roads and a city with the tape. Then they can make buildings with blocks and drive their cars through the city. This activity is explained more thoroughly on 365ish Days of Pinterest.
  • If the place you are babysitting has a dog, you may want to make a dog toy with the kids that they can later use to play with the dog. You’ll need to bring along some old T-shirts to cut up, as shown on Red Fly.
  • By elementary school the child should be able to help fix food and snacks, says Better Health Channel, so come up with a healthy and interesting snack or dinner idea you can do together.
  • When a child makes his own snack he is more likely to eat it, so take a look at the ideas on Cozi that break down snack ideas by ages.
  • Online homework help for elementary age kids can be found at Homework Spot and can come in handy if you need to help a child with homework.
  • Duval Schools is a site that provides some homework resources that might come in handy if you are helping an elementary age student do homework.
  • Introduce the child you are babysitting to educational games online by going to ABC Ya and clicking on the grade level that is appropriate, as long as the parents agree.
  • Get the kids outside enjoying nature and try to find a pine cone that you can use to make a birdfeeder. Take a look at Recreation Guy to see what other supplies you need.
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100 Ways to Show Your Daughter She’s Loved

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The way you show your daughter you love her will change throughout the year. As a baby, you show her love by taking care of her needs at the drop of a hat. As she gets older, the way you display love for her changes. The biggest ways you can show her you love her is by spending time with her and openly telling her you love her. Play with her, cook with her, listen to her talk, send her a note in her lunch. Surprise her and show her affection in different ways. Check out these 100 blog posts to learn different ways to let your child know that she is loved.

Bake Together

If you enjoy baking or cooking, sharing this love with your daughter can be one way to show her how much you love her. Sure, it might mean you have a bigger mess to clean up afterwards, but you’ll also be spending quality time together. Show patience throughout the process and find reasons to laugh while you are baking together. Then enjoy the fruits of your labor once you’re done baking. Find kid-friendly recipes to make with your daughter in these 10 blog posts.

  • Make MuffinsFun at Home with the Kids provides a recipe and pointers for cooking with kids as young as 18 months.
  • Cheesy ScrollsPaint on the Ceiling shows how you and your preschooler can make something delicious for the whole family using very few ingredients.
  • Bake Cookies—Who doesn’t love cookies? Let the kids get involved and help you make some cookies, as suggested on Inspirations.
  • S’mores on a StickSassafras explains how to set up simple stations where the kids can make this dessert on their own with no fire involved.
  • Fancy Nancy Cupcakes—Try baking the pink cupcakes described on The Pink Apron with your daughter.
  • Banana BreadSo Very Domestic shares this simple recipe that her kids love making.
  • Roll-Out Cookies—Let the kids get their hands on the dough by making these roll out cookies with them, just like the blogger from Simple Kids.
  • Let Them Decorate—Part of the fun of baking is decorating the baked goods once they are done. Frosting also has the ability to mask a myriad of mistakes, as explained by BBC Good Food.
  • Shortbread—Experiment with the kids when you bake these shortbread cookies, as suggested by Quiet Country Life.
  • Whoopie Pie Cookies—Kids will like anything that starts with the word Whoopie! Find tips for how to make these cookies with your kids from Style Me Pretty Living.

Surprise Her

This doesn’t necessarily mean jumping out of a closet and startling her; instead, do kind things to surprise her. She will enjoy the surprise and know that you spent time setting it up just for her. You don’t have to spend a lot of money, either. Sometimes the simplest gestures mean the most. You’ll find lots of ways to surprise your daughter detailed in these 10 blogs.

  • Create a Scavenger HuntCelebrate Every Day with Me explains how you can create a scavenger hunt that leads to a special treat for your child.
  • Lunch Box SurprisesThe Stir gives a bunch of ideas on how you can slip surprises into your daughter’s lunch box.
  • Send a Doodle Napkin—Include a cute napkin with a note and doodle on it that will surprise her at lunch time, suggests Just Something I Made.
  • Personalized Pencil—Order some special pencils from Oriental Trading to hide in her binder or lunch box as a surprise.
  • Finger Puppets—Not an everyday sort of thing, but once in a while hiding a finger puppet from Amazon in your daughters coat pocket or gym bag will make her laugh.
  • Hide a Fortune Teller—Include a fortune teller in her pocket or lunch box filled with fortunes she doesn’t know, as shown on Moms Minivan.
  • Make her Favorite DinnerPenny Zeller suggests surprising your daughter by making her favorite dinner on a day that hasn’t gone so well for her.
  • Pick Her Up from School—Surprise her by taking her to the park after school when she thought she was just going home, suggests Kidsumers.
  • Cut Her Sandwich into a Fun Shape—Skip the boring square sandwich and instead surprise your daughter by cutting her sandwich into a fun shape, as shown on My Julie Bees.
  • Breakfast NoteSmart Parenting recommends making breakfast look special and then putting a note on it to surprise your daughter.

Send Notes

Younger kids that don’t read can get little pictures or drawings from you. As your child gets older, download some pre-printed notes to use. Sometimes kids will think they are getting too old for lovey dovey notes from their mommy, so switch to sending jokes in her lunch box when that happens. The other kids will look forward to them just as much as your child does and she will feel the love you have for her. Take a look at these 10 blog sites that have clever ideas for sending notes to your child.

  • Lunchtime Notes—Download these free lunchtime notes from Frog Prince Paperie.
  • Funny Notes—Try out these notes from Food Family Finds to include in your child’s lunch.
  • Lunchbox Love Notes—Include these words of wisdom or funny love notes available through Mommy Blog Expert.
  • Hide Notes—You can put notes where they might not be found right away, like on a pillow or in a favorite book, according to The Educator’s Spin on It.
  • Leave Notes if You Travel—Let your child know how much you love them when you go out of town, as suggested on this Cloud Mom video.
  • Include Notes with Coordinating Treats—These notes go with a special treat, like Orange Crush gum paired with a note that says, “You’re going to Crush Your Test Today,” found on Lou Lou Girls.
  • Tags on Fruit—Download these clever fruit-inspired tags that you can attach to the fruit that you put in your daughter’s lunch, as shown on Alpha Mom.
  • Chatty NotesSimply Kierste shares fun lunchbox notes.
  • Use an Edible Pen—You can write notes on everything from pop tarts in the morning to fruit for lunch, as shown on Hungry Happenings.
  • Small Pre-Printed Notes—These notes can be downloaded to include in lunches on The Charm It Spot.

One-on-One Time

Make your daughter feel special by spending time alone with her. Kids who have siblings often feel like they get shortchanged when it comes to time spent with a parent. Whether it’s a mother/daughter outing or a father/daughter outing, make it a point to spend alone time with her. Once a month may be enough, or you can spend time every night reading and praying with your child before bed. If your child has any concerns, this may be the time that they come out. These 10 blogs will provide more ideas for spending one-on-one time with your child.

  • The Importance of One-On-One TimePower of Moms explains how she and her husband took their 16 year old on a trip to spend time with just her.
  • Snuggle Up and Read a Book—Spending time together doesn’t have to be expensive, as explained by Motherhood on a Dime.
  • Daddy/Daughter TimeMamaha explains how dads can help build their daughter’s self-esteem by spending one-on-one time with her.
  • Nightly Prayer—Spend time alone with your daughter at bedtime and say a prayer where you tell God how thankful you are for your daughter along with others, as suggested by Raising Mighty Arrows.
  • Spa Day—No matter the age, you can have a Mommy/Daughter day at the spa or salon where you both get haircuts or pedicures, which is what Mama Challenge does.
  • Take a Walk—By taking a walk you can talk to your child and spend some time just listening to what she has to say, according to Daisy Cottage Designs.
  • Go to the Movies—Just you and your child need to do something special once in a while, like going to the movies together, as explained on Life Hack.
  • Sing—Sometimes something as simple as singing can be an enjoyable experience for just the two of you, per Working Mom Journal.
  • Bedtime Routine—Create a special bedtime routine, whether it’s with a story, a prayer, tickling or something else, as suggested from Inner Child Fun.
  • Go for a Drive—Unplug and do something with just your child, like going for a drive, suggests For Women to Women.

Be Affectionate

There are many ways to show affection. Some children don’t like hugs and kisses, and if that’s the case with your child you will need to find other ways to show you care, like a smile and wink. A gentle touch on the arm or rub of the back can also be enough to convey the love that you feel for your child. By showing affection to your child, even if you did not receive it as a child, you are paving the way for your child to show affection to others. Learn different ways to show affection in these 10 articles.

  • Seven Non-Functional Touches a DayThe Trumpet explains that you will grow closer to your child if you make it a point to give her seven touches a day.
  • Give Hugs of HelloU of A suggests that you intentionally make sure that you are showing your preschooler affection every day, because as she gets older it is harder to be affectionate.
  • Random I Love You HugsMommy Noire suggests showing that you love your child by surprising her with a random hug and telling her that you love her.
  • Give a Massage—Show affection to your child by rubbing her back at bedtime to help calm her and let her know she’s loved says Kidsu.
  • Smile—Look your child in the eyes and smile at her to connect and let her know she is loved says Kevin Scott Writes.
  • Affirming Touches and I Love You’s—This Deliberate Dad explains how important it is for kids to be shown affection and told how much they are loved.
  • Kisses—Give your child kisses to the extent that you and she are comfortable with them, according to Momma Two.
  • Snuggles—According to Greater Good, kisses and snuggles given to a child early on lead to more well-adjusted and calm adults, based on a study referenced in this post.
  • Holding Hands—While it’s important to hold your child’s hand, it’s also important to hold your spouse’s hand so the kids know about love and affection, says 3 Things for Mom.
  • Even Teens Need Affection—Adapt the way you show affection for your teen if she is uncomfortable, but don’t stop showing it says Parent Further.

Play Games

Again, spending time with your child is an important way to show her that you love her. Interacting with her in different ways, such as playing games or pretending to have tea, gives your daughter a warm feeling that you care about her and what she likes. Playing games is also educational, so you can help with several different skill sets at the same time. These 10 blogs show various games you can play with your child as she grows.

  • Check in with Her—Playing board games allows you time to touch base with your child and see how she’s doing and acting, suggests Quick and Dirty Tips.
  • Bond with Your Daughter Over Online Games—Cooking games and others provide a way to bring you and your daughter together, says Spilgames.
  • Bonding During Sibling NaptimeDes Moines Moms recommend games as a way to bond with an older sibling while a younger child naps.
  • I Spy—Playing games that require no supplies is a smart way to pass the time with your kids, explains The Coupon Project.
  • Bond Over PlayMommy Soul recommends playing with your kids so that you can bond with them and strengthen your relationship.
  • Quality Family TimeConfident in Grace explains how games can provide a way for quality family time and to show love to your child.
  • Play Minecraft Together—Connect over something that your child is interested in and become aware of what all the hype is about, says Close Families.
  • Laugh Together—Playing games together will give you an opportunity to connect and find things to laugh about together, explains My Two Hats.
  • Common Ground—Play video games with your child and work together toward a common goal to bring the two of you closer, says Gaming Death.
  • Develop Trust—Playing games and pretend with your kid allows you to form a bond of trust that will help when she gets older, says The Idea Room.

Do Crafts Together

Kids often love to do crafts, so even if you are not at all crafty you can provide materials for your daughter to be creative. Maybe she can even teach you something! Never miss an opportunity to improve your child’s self-esteem. You may even want to take a new class together so that the two of you are learning a skill at the same time that you can continue doing together your whole lives. From simple crafts to those appropriate for teens, these 10 blogs will provide instructions for you.

  • Make a Gratitude Journal Together—Once you make the journal you can both write in it and share what you’ve written to stay close, says Houston Family Magazine.
  • Make Sock Puppets—The time that it takes to make the puppets is time that will allow you to bond with your daughter, explains Singapore Motherhood.
  • Listen as You Craft with Your Child—Let your child lead the way on crafting projects and see if she wants to work together or separately, describes Citibabes.
  • Cover Ear Bud Cords—Your tween daughter is probably into listening to her iPod, so help her keep the cords untangled by knotting embroidery thread over the cord like the cord covers shown on Kiss Me Awake.
  • Headbands—What do teenage girls use a lot of? Headbands, so why not work with her to create one for every outfit and mood? Directions can be found on The Gunny Sack.
  • Connect over Tie-Dye—Check out the instructions on The Heartfelt Home to find a sample activity that includes a Bible verse and a craft for every month.
  • Needle Felt—Watch the video on Makezine to learn how to needle felt and create a wool buddy with your daughter that she will love.
  • DIY Project—Fathers and daughters can bond over a home improvement project at the house, says Psychology Today.
  • Take a Craft Class—Learn a new craft with your daughter by taking a craft class together, encourages Obviously Marvelous.
  • Let Your Daughter Take the Lead—Encourage your daughter to take the lead on decorating or crafting so that she can teach you something, says Chocolate Cake Moments.

Scrapbook Memories

While scrapbooking is a craft, it also includes a special element. That special element is your memory. Being able to look through old pictures and reminisce together can be a bonding experience for mothers and daughters of any age. Remember that the most important thing is that you are spending time together and that you are preserving memories. Don’t worry about your scrapbook being a masterpiece. More ideas for scrapbooking together are illustrated in these 10 blog entries.

  • Preserving Her MemoriesEarnest Parenting explains how to get prepped and ready to sit down with your daughter and scrapbook her memories.
  • Mother/Daughter ClassBeatriz Guzman shows the results from a mother/daughter four-hour class.
  • Scrapbook Page—Make a scrapbook page honoring your connection to your daughter, like the one found on Pause Dream Enjoy.
  • Challenge Yourself —Work on scrapbooking a page with pictures of you and your daughter, as detailed on Ria Creations.
  • Compare Your WorkScrapbooking for the Love of Paper suggests both mother and daughter create a page using the same sketch and then compare the two styles.
  • Bond Over Scrapbooking—This blogger from Daily Digi created a design to honor her mother because when she was young she started scrapbooking with her mom every weekend and they stayed close because of it.
  • Tea Party Crop—Look for events like the tea party crop described on Classic on Alexander, where mothers and daughters can crop and have a tea party too.
  • Crafting Session—Take a look at this mother/daughter scrapbooking session where the mom specifically printed out dog pictures for her daughter to scrapbook, as seen on Spend Less, Craft More.
  • Date NightMy Frugal Adventures suggests a mother/daughter date night where you both scrapbook your memories.
  • Sisterhood—Start scrapbooking with your daughter and you may both enjoy a lifelong hobby and something to bond over, as detailed on Inspired Woman Magazine.

Make Her Laugh

Laughing makes people feel good. Dr. Dunbar, laugh researcher at Oxford, explains that endorphins are released when you laugh. These feel good hormones help improve your mood. The same works for making your daughter laugh. While children laugh many more times a day than adults, it’s important to laugh with your child so that you can bond over a shared joke. Learn how to make your child laugh in these 10 blogs.

  • Use Sound EffectsCute Parents suggest using sound effects when reading a story to make your daughter laugh.
  • Tell a JokeChildhood Beckons gives you a list of 30 jokes to try out on your daughter to get her to laugh.
  • Giggle Gang—If you have a little one, get one of these Giggle Gang toys that sound like babies giggling and it will surely get your baby giggling too, says Darcy and Brian.
  • Physical Comedy—Pretending to trip usually makes your baby laugh, says Joanna Goddard, and there are four foolproof ways shown on a video.
  • Printable JokesRedfly provides you with printable jokes to tuck into her lunch, leave in her pocket or tape to the bathroom mirror to make her laugh.
  • Everyday Things to Laugh About—Take a look at the funny ideas on Let Me Start by Saying that may make your kids laugh too.
  • Blow Raspberries—Go through the ideas on Pop Sugar that may make your child laugh, like blowing raspberries on her feet or tummy.
  • Ripping Paper—According to Baby First, babies will laugh big belly laughs at the sound of ripping paper.
  • A Cartoon—Check out the cartoon cat on Children Education and see if it works to make your kids laugh.
  • Use Siri—The Apple virtual assistant can be pretty funny, and older kids will get a lot of laughs out of asking her questions, according to Venture Beat.

Be Proud of Her

Kids want their parents to be proud of them. It doesn’t matter how old you get, you still appreciate being told that your parent is proud of you and that they love you. Often pride and love go hand-in-hand. Cheer for your kids when they perform, whether they’re singing or playing soccer. Even as a teenager your daughter will appreciate hearing that you are proud of what she has accomplished and of the person she has become. Read through these 10 blogs to get more ideas of how you can show your daughter that you are proud of she does.

  • Display Artwork in a CalendarTwo Kids Cooking & More! suggests taking your child’s artwork and making it into a calendar for the family to see.
  • Tell Her You’re Proud of HerMore 4 Kids suggests that you look for the things that your teen needs for you to say to her, like that you are proud of her.
  • Make a SignMakobiscribe suggests making a sign or car magnet to show how proud you are of your child and her team.
  • Tell EveryoneAll Pro Dad takes an opportunity during a gathering of dads once a month to tell everyone how proud he is of his kid.
  • Social Media—Post something on Facebook to show your pride says Nurturing Mums, but make sure that you don’t overdo it.
  • Pinterest—Kids love to have their work recognized and to have their parents be proud of what they can do, so Kids in Cowtown suggests posting pictures on Pinterest.
  • Make a BookReal Simple shows a video of how you can scan child’s artwork into your computer and make it into a book to display with pride at home.
  • Changing Wall Art—Hang up empty frames and put your child’s artwork inside them to display them with pride, says The Artful Parent.
  • Use Hangers—Display artwork all over the house using pants hangers so that you can change out the artwork over time, as shown on The Honest Company.
  • Text Message—You are never too old to get a text from your mom telling you how proud she is of you and you never know how much that will mean to her, says College Plus.
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