Great babysitters are a rare gem. We have a few great ones that I would hire over and over again. We haven’t had a bad babysitter, but there are definitely qualities that stand out that make a babysitter amazing. I want to give you 10 characteristics of a GREAT babysitter. These are thing you can look for when choosing someone to watch your little ones, or these are things you can strive to do if you are a babysitter. Trust me! If you do these 10 things, you will be called back time and time again, and parents will be willing to pay more for your services.
Pass this post along to your teenage daughters and sons who are in babysitting mode. They may look at the list and find in unattainable. Remember, this is the list that makes the good stand out from the great. You might be hired for a few hours, and remember that you only need to bring your A game intensely for those few hours. The kids will love you. The parents will love you. Set a higher standard for yourself in this important joy you have.
- Bring a Special Game, Rewards or Activity – This is something I remember from my favorite babysitter growing up. My kids favorite babysitter does it now. It doesn’t have to be something you purchase. Put together a craft from items you have at home. Bring one of your favorite games from home. Find a safe science experiment you can do. Browse Pinterest for fun ideas. The babysitter we have even goes to the Dollar Store or finds sale items at the craft store to keep the kids engaged. Further, if you bring little rewards, you will give the kids motivation for making the time together more pleasant. My kids always look forward to seeing what is in our sitter’s bag when she arrives.
- Avoid Screen Time – This is a pet peeve of mine. Unless I specify that is a movie night, I don’t want my babysitters sitting around watching TV or movies with my kids. You see, as a mom, we limit screen time. For us, TV time is a time for us to hurry around the house and get done everything we need to get done. I could just as easily stick my kids in front of the TV as their “babysitter,” but I don’t. I hire you. I pay you money. Please engage my kids in a meaningful way while I’m away.
- Keep the House as Clean as When You Arrived – It’s hard to keep the house clean with kids – I know!! If you can have it just as clean by the end of the babysitting time, you are a hero! It will take cleaning up one activity before moving on to the next. It will take doing dishes after you eat. It might take a bit of work after the kids go to bed. Remember that you are being paid for this time, so if the kids have been in bed for two hours, you are sitting watching TV, and the house is messier than it started, parents might not feel like you were worth the money paid.
- Make the House Cleaner than When You Arrived – This is what takes good to great. If you see the kids room is a mess, and you can somehow motivate them to make it clean with a fun game, you are amazing! If you saw more dishes in the sink, and you get those cleaned up after the kids get in bed, we love you forever. If you want to impress the parents who have hired you, do a couple extras, and they will be so appreciative.
- Think Like a Kid – You are closer to those years than we are as parents. I am sure your imaginations and ability to play are much better. Think like a kid. Be goofy. Make it fun. Do you remember your favorite babysitter? Try and mimic that. I have had babysitters or mom’s helpers here, and I have learned a lot from them. I see the way they play and how excited they get by my children’s stories and thoughts. These kids look up to you, so if you can make them feel like they are the best, they will think you are a hero and request you every time.
- Adhere to Bed Time – I love that you enjoy my kids and want to keep them up later to hang out. However, many kids won’t sleep in any later. If they get less sleep than required, the next day is no fun for the parents. If you are given a bedtime by the parents, try and stick to the time set. Make sure there is enough time for pajamas, teeth brushing, books, prayer, etc. If you struggle with getting kids to bed (you would if you were at my house, sorry about that…) then make sure to ask the parents if they have any tips, tricks or bribes to help.
- Don’t Give the Parents all the Details – As a parent, we want to get away. I do want to know if my kids were disobeying, and I want to be able to support you and have your back next time. However, we don’t need to know ALL the details. We want to know the general experience and any important details. However, I once had a babysitter that would text us every detail throughout the night. It’s hard to be on a date with your spouse while getting the play by play on how awful your kids are.
- Send Cards – This is a bonus babysitter moment. I would have never thought about it unless our current babysitter had done it. Our sitter has sent Christmas cards and birthday cards. She has even bought Christmas presents for the kids and brought them over. Below is a picture of one of our favorite babysitters with the hats she bought my kids for Christmas last year. So sweet!
- Put Away Your Cell Phone – Cell phones are addicting. I know. This is a hard one for me too! However, it would be wonderful if you could make a concerted effort to put away the phone and be present with the kids you are babysitting. Remember that this is a job. Your boss would never allow your cell phone out if you were working elsewhere. Try to adhere to the same standards even though there is no one there keeping tabs on how your time is spent.
- Get Trained – There are great courses teenagers can take to teach them how to be a great babysitter. To get CPR training and general babysitting training is very wise, and it shows you are invested in the children in your care. Taking care of kids is not easy. Babysitting classes will give you the knowledge and tools to do the best job you can for the family who hires you. Some parents might even require it.