We recently had a "Manners & Etiquette" class for the 12 & 13 year old girls (Beehives) in our church youth group. I was asked to do a segment on Babysitting Manners & Etiquette for them. In order to make my presentation more complete, I asked my Facebook friends for contributions... and boy, did it get people fired up! As it turns out, many of the experiences my friends had with their babysitters weren't isolated incidents. They were shared. [Apparently, babysitters these days need a little training!] I was able to fit each suggestion into one of three categories: "Do," "Don't Do" and "Know."
- For an infant, keep a log of when they ate and how much, when they were changed, etc for the parents.
- Do any chores the parents asked you to do (like rinse off dishes).
- Put the kids to bed on time (not too early, not late) and in their pajamas, not their clothes/shoes, and with teeth brushed.
- Close curtains/blinds and turn on the front porch light when it gets dark. Keep the front door locked at all times.
- Clean up after yourself and the kids -- leave the house cleaner than you found it.
- Give the kids your full attention at all times -- play with them!
- Bring your own snacks/sack lunch if you'll be there a while.
- Change diapers, especially poopy ones! If you aren't willing to change diapers, don't babysit kids in diapers.
- Be kind to house pets or leave them alone.
- At least rinse dishes and stack them neatly in the sink -- even better, load them into the dishwasher.
- Do not go into the parent's bedroom (unless the crib is in there).
- Do not talk on the phone/text/play iPod or video games (ok once kids are asleep and house is tidy).
- Do not yell or raise your voice to the kids.
- Do not invite anyone over without prior approval from the parents -- NO BOYS, PERIOD.
- Do not open the door for anyone.
- Do not eat anything unless the parents offer it for you to have while you are there (ok to eat what the kids are eating).
- Do not watch movies/TV unless the parents said it was okay, and never the whole time.
- Do not use the computer/internet while babysitting.
- Do not put the kids to bed with snacks (sticky/crumbs in bed - yuck!)
- Do not take the kids anywhere, even if the park is close by.
- Know where the address and parents' phone numbers are written in case of an emergency.
- Know basic child development: infant, toddler, preschooler -- for instance, know how to calm a fussy baby (do not ignore the baby!)
- Know basic first aid/choking/CPR
- Know where the parents will be if you can't get a hold of them in an emergency on their cell phone.
- Know that kids tell their parents everything... and often ask for a specific sitter they like. Behave accordingly!
- Know if the kids have any allergies or restrictions on what they can eat or do.
- Know what the expectations/rules are for the kids and let the parents know if there were any problems.
- Know basic safety (don't leave kids unattended in the tub, don't leave knives within reach of kids, supervise kids when eating,etc.)
- Know some fun games to play with the kids to keep them entertained (however, hide and seek is not necessarily a good idea)
- Know what your fee will be when people ask. Know what a fair asking price is for babysitters in your area. (When you are paid, don't count your money in front of the parents.)
As a follow up to this segment, and because of the responses I received from friends, we have decided to teach a babysitting series of classes ranging from first aid/CPR to child development and ending with putting together a babysitting kit with things and ideas to keep kids entertained. [For those who are LDS, if you teach a full series that takes 10 or more hours to complete, the girls who participate in all the activities can count it for a Personal Progress Value Project for Knowledge.]
Interestingly enough, we determined that in many instances, parents who are hiring babysitters need a few tips on etiquette and manners as well. Such as: leave the babysitter with a basically tidy/clean house, pay a little extra if the babysitter goes above and beyond, arrange a babysitter ahead of time (like 24 hours, at least) and not wait till the last minute, commit to a time you'll be home and call if you're running late, etc. These came from the girls doing the babysitting. :)
Feel free to comment with additional ideas for babysitting manners & etiquette you would add to this list for the benefit of other readers. We just expect that many of our young ladies simply know how to babysit and care for children, but when we educate them, they can become much better and more valuable babysitters for our children and our communities!
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