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- Coping With Your Child’s Separation Anxiety
- How to Make a Good First Impression on a New Babysitting Job
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How to Make a Good First Impression on a New Babysitting Job
December 22, 2013 | in Babysitting Jobs
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.
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.← Five Things the Mom You Are Babysitting for May Not Tell You | Coping With Your Child’s Separation Anxiety →
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