As a teenager, babysitting the kids around your neighborhood is a rite of passage. It teaches you responsibility for your actions and the actions of others, and it is an excellent first job for some cash on the side. For all the young teenagers out there, babysitting kids in your neighborhood is perfect if you don’t have a driver’s license. Another perk is that the average babysitting rate is $18.36 an hour (Kim), which is more than minimum wage in most states, so make yourself the person parents call when they need a babysitter. However, there are some simple rules that all babysitters must follow that ensures that you will get a call back when they need a sitter again. These rules ensure that you do the bare minimum, keeping the kids safe and making sure the parents love you.
When you first arrive at the house, make sure you get there at least five minutes early and shake the hands of whatever adults are there. You will want to say “yes ma’am” and “yes sir” showing off your Southern charm and respect. After a little small talk, find the kids (Suzanne and Damien) introduce yourself to them and be overly friendly. The parents will likely stare you down and see how you interact with the children. Get onto their level, look them in their eyes and ask about school. There is nothing kids enjoy talking about more than school. Tell the parents as they are heading out the door that there is no rush home and have lots of fun. All of this might seem like a no-brainer, but you can’t be rude to the people paying you if you want to be booked again. Being on your best behavior in front of adults is a must.
After the parents finally leave, the real work starts. It is finally just you, Suzanne, and Damien and now you can show your true colors. Young children these days lack independence. If they are immature enough or irresponsible enough to need a babysitter in the first place, you now must control them and teach them the ways of adulthood. Locking them in a room is the best move. I know this sounds crazy, but if you are in the room with them trying to play, they will never learn what independence is like and play by themselves. Without independence, they will never turn into adaptive, collaborative, or even visionary adults. Keep them in the room for as long as possible, and only enter if you hear screams of bloody murder. If they are simply crying, don’t go in. The real world is brutal, and the sooner they understand that, the better. A few tears never hurt anyone and kids these days are soft. When I was a child, my parents restrained me and smacked me in the back of the head with a spoon if I talked back.
While they are locked in the room, roam about the house as if it is your own. Look in their fridge and eat whatever you can find, even if it is expensive. Some fridges these days are filled with $12 Kombucha, organic, hand-roasted granola, and assortments of cheese, and this family has that type of fridge. They wouldn’t keep the food in plain sight for you if they didn’t want you eating, and I’m sure they won’t mind. Go and look through drawers; find their social security cards and their bank account information. It’s free entertainment. But don’t forget this; scattering the monopoly money and checkers pieces all around the house so that way the parents know that you and the kids played lots of games.
Mealtime is the most important part of your job. You can’t give Suzanne and Damien back to their parents on an empty stomach. If you do, the first thing out of their mouths will be “I’m hungry,” and the parents will instantly know. However, the contents of the food you give them heavily depend on what time the parents will be home. If they are coming home shortly after dinner, then give the child as much sugar as they please. Fill their stomachs with pixie sticks, bonbons, and apple pie. Dealing with them will no longer be your problem by the time the sugar rush kicks in. And, it will give the child energy and make it seem like they had a good time with you. But, if you are in charge of putting the child to bed, they get a zero sugar dinner or no dinner. Restrict yourself from giving them only spinach and a tiny handful of almonds, you know, make their stomach feel fuller than it is. Don’t make your life harder than it needs to be. If the child doesn’t like what you have prepared, who cares? They can go to bed hungry because, once again, it is not your problem.
After dinner, leave all of the dishes scattered across the kitchen. Don’t be the maid; it’s not your job, so leave as big of a mess as you can. The parents will ask that you feed their child, the scattered plates check that box. After dinner, it’s bedtime. Going to bed early is especially important for young kids. The second it gets dark, it’s bedtime. You don’t need to deal with Suzanne’s excessive talking or Damiens constant fart noises anymore. The parents will thank you the following day for how rested their children are. If the kid says they aren’t tired, medicating them is always allowed. Be responsible with this; you’ll want a sleeping kid, not a dead one. A few milligrams of melatonin or Tylenol PM will do the trick. If the child asks for a bedtime story, the answer is always no. If they don’t know how, that’s the parent’s fault, not yours. Before you leave the room, say goodnight to them and the monster under their bed. Name the beast a slight variation of their name. For example, Damiens monster’s name is Darien, and Suzanne’s monster’s name is Suzan. Then describe in excruciating detail that their monster will bite their foot off if they get out of bed. Once you finally leave, lock the child in their room. If there isn’t a lock on the outside of the door (which there typically isn’t on children’s doors), jam a chair under the door handle. If a child knows they can leave their room, they will if they don’t fall asleep. Eliminate the option entirely so that they don’t bug you. Just remember- unlock the door or move the chair before the parents get home.
Now that your babysitting duties are complete until the parents get home, invite some friends over. The parents want you having a good time while they are gone, and you have the house to yourself: the more people, the better. Give your guests access to anything in the house as well. That’s what being a suitable host means. Make sure they are gone before the parents come home, though. That way, the parents will know you are responsible enough by having an early curfew for your guests.
Once the parents arrive home, ask them lots of questions about their night. Who were they with? Where did they go? What did they eat? This will make you seem interested even though you don’t care in the slightest deep down. If they ask how the night went and what you guys did, make things up. They will believe you over their little, sticky, loud kid. Tell them about all the exhilarating activities you guys did, what they chowed on for dinner, and how easy the children were. This step is essential. You want the parents thinking you had just as much fun with their kid as the kid had with you. This step will show the parents that you and their child have good chemistry, and they will be sure to invite you back in the future. As you leave, thank them and tell them your preferred payment method. Make sure to tell them that you can’t wait to come back; then, finally, you can go home. These steps are crucial to your success as a babysitter as long as you follow them precisely.