Babysitting 101: What you need to know

If you're about to take on the responsibility of babysitting for a friend or family member, there are some basic tips you should probably know. 

So you’ve offered to babysit for a friend or family member with a new baby. Well done! You’ve taken the first step to help your friend… now what?

Well that really depends on the age of the kids that you’re taking on, as older children will have different needs compared to babies, but there are some simple things that can apply across all age groups. 

These five tips are a good place to start…

1. Stick to the routine
No matter what age the child, you can bet that the parents probably have a routine. Whether it’s snack time, bedtime or bath time, make sure you know how the parents do it and try to stick to the plan. Kids generally like routine, so it will go much smoother for you (and them) if you can keep things on track.

2. Safety first
It’s always important to understand if there’s anything medical you need to know. Be sure to ask, as sometimes parents are so used it, that they might forget to let you know. Are there any allergies? Is there medicine that needs to be taken? Where is the first aid kit? Whatever it is, you’re best to know up front, rather than trying to deal with it in an emergency. 

3. Be contactable
It might sound counter intuitive that a parent would want to contact you when you’re supposed to be giving them a break, but they probably will at some point, especially if you’re new to looking after their kids. Have your phone on you, and answer if it you can. It will give them peace of mind and allow them to actually enjoy their time out and not worry about what’s happening at home.  
man having tea party with little girl
4. Know the rules
Depending on the age of the child, various rules may apply. For example, it might be no TV after dinner or never jumping on the bed. Whatever it is, be sure you know what the family ‘non-negotiable’ rules are, because it’s not unheard of to have older children trying to trick a babysitter. Don’t be the one to be suckered in. 

5. Have fun
It might seem obvious, but don’t forget to have fun! Think about some games you loved as a kid and bring them to a new audience. You can’t go past old classics like hide and seek, blanket forts and board games. Or take on the challenge to learn some new skills. Who knows, you may be the next gaming champion or loom band master and not even know it!

Finally as a bonus tip – if you’re babysitting at the new parent’s home, remember to keep it as tidy, if not tidier than when you arrived. 

Take the chance while toddlers are napping, or older kids are watching a movie to unpack the dishwasher, fold a basket of laundry or even run a vacuum over the floor and you’ll be their new favourite babysitter!
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