So you’re sitting on the couch Friday evening with nothing to do. All of a sudden the phone rings. It’s your neighbor, and she’s desperate for a baby sitter. You could use the spare cash, so you automatically say "yes." But what now? Do you have any ideas what to do with the kids? Do you know what to do in case of an emergency? These things are vital when it comes to baby-sitting.
Some kids don’t like the idea of a baby sitter. Maybe it’s because they feel they’re too old for a baby sitter, or possibly, they don’t like to be away from their mom and dad too long. Or it could be that they see their baby sitter as just another person to boss them around.
This can be overcome though. Baby sitters should show the kids how much they like their jobs and being around kids. Get to know the children’s likes and dislikes, and the children will soon realize that their baby sitter is more like their friend, rather than someone who’s just in it for the money.
I remember one of my most enjoyable times baby-sitting. I must have been around 12. It was for both my sisters, whom I baby-sit for about once a month. That night was my biggest job ever. I was in charge of two 5-year-olds, Autumn and Joshua, a 3-year-old, Alexis, a 4-year-old, Dylan, and a 10-year-old, Jasmine. Before this, the most I had baby-sat for was three kids.
The night started great. The kids and I were just goofing off and having fun on the living room floor. My sister bought pizza for us, which was great because with pizza kids leave hardly any mess and there are usually no leftovers. But I had made a little mistake. I gave the kids soda. Too much caffeine and a lot of sugar makes kids fly off the walls.
Anyhow, after dinner, I put on my nephew Joshua’s favorite movie, Small Soldiers. I watched some of it, but at the same time I had to keep my eye on the other four little ones. Kids can be very sneaky. Most kids get tired of watching a movie, so they go and find something else to do, like get into cupboards, and open drawers, which can be very dangerous if they find a knife or a poisonous spray.
But that night everything was awesome. Then Dylan asked me for a peanut butter sandwich. He told me that he was going to make it. I wasn’t so sure about a 4-year-old making a sandwich, but I said OK. Stricter baby sitters would have probably said "no," but I like doing whatever is possible to make the kids happy. But even though I want to make the kids happy, I still want to let them know that I am boss by enforcing the rules.
After finding the peanut butter Dylan and I walked over to the cutting board, and he made the sandwich. I don’t think it was hunger that inspired him to make the sandwich, but more that he was old enough to do things on his own. I guess most kids that you baby-sit want to show you that they are independent, when in reality most of them are not.
As Dylan and I were sitting at the kitchen table, I could see the rest of the kids in the living room. I could tell they were already getting hyped up and tired of the movie. Autumn and Joshua were sitting on the couch playing some game that I couldn’t make out, not paying attention to the movie at all. Alexis, the youngest, was watching the movie, but had a when-is-it-going-to-end expression on her face. Jasmine was just as bored as Alexis. So, I turned off the movie, and I turned on the channel that is every baby sitter’s dream, Nickelodeon. It has cartoons on practically non-stop, and keeps the kids hooked to the TV.
As the four little ones were watching late night Nickelodeon at around 9:30, Jasmine, the 10-year-old, and I went in the kitchen searching for something to snack on. I found some instant chocolate pudding in the cupboard, so we made that. It turned out pretty disgusting and lumpy. Maybe Jasmine and I didn’t stir the pudding enough? We ended up serving it to the kids in the kitchen, so they wouldn’t get it all over the living room. But I probably shouldn’t have given them any pudding. Sugar (which is a key ingredient in pudding) equals hyper children and hyper children are not good when they are expected in bed an hour later.
After the kids and I were done eating our lumpy pudding, I announced what all kids hate to hear: it was time for bed. The kids didn’t want to go, especially since the TV was still on, and they had just eaten chocolate pudding. They begged me to please let them stay up a little bit longer. I didn’t want to put them in bed, because I wanted them to have fun. However, that is what my sisters asked me to do, so I had to.
Joshua, Dylan, Autumn and Alexis all slept on the floor of the boys’ room, while Jasmine and I were talking quietly in her room. All of a sudden, I heard Autumn giggle. This is when I came up with the three strikes list, a piece of paper on which I wrote down each child’s name. Every time someone did something mischievous, I put a checkmark next to his or her name. I explained how if they got three strikes, I would show it to their moms and dads. Autumn was the first one with a strike. I saw the look of sadness come over her face, and I felt bad. I didn’t want to be the mean baby sitter. Yet I had to be firm if I wanted them to take me seriously.
Five minutes later, I was talking with Jasmine in her room and all of a sudden, I heard the kids again. So, I went back to the room, and all of them were up. This continued until eventually I had to separate them. By the end of the night, Autumn had three strikes, and she and her sister Alexis were sleeping in the room with Jasmine and I, while Josh and Dylan were in their room. Most kids hate you for separating them because they like to play together. But when kids get out of control, you have to put your foot down, even if it means you’ll be hated.
Separating them didn’t really matter anyway because they were knocked out like five minutes later. I stayed up until my sisters returned home, just in case the kids needed me or an emergency occurred. My sisters arrived home around two hours after the kids were asleep, and I gave them the report of what went on. They laughed at the three strikes idea. I got paid $25 for the night and I had a great time.
That night was one of the best nights I ever had as a baby sitter. I enjoyed watching movies, eating pizza and playing with the kids. Plus, I learned that soda and pudding (with lots of sugar in it) will keep the kids up for hours. So I suggest juice or caffeine-free Sprite, and sugar-free pudding. Of course you want to give the kids something to snack on, but try not to give them things with lots of sugar in it, like pudding.
Have Fun with the Kids
Interacting with the kids is also very important. What I mean is, don’t just give the kids a game and send them away to play, but play the game with them. Or if they’re having a conversation, try and see if you can join in. Even though you may not understand what the kids are discussing, just listen and see if you can say something about what they are discussing. Little things like that will really let the kids know that you’re happy to be their baby sitter, and perhaps they won’t be so unhappy about having a baby sitter.
Just because this night was awesome, doesn’t mean that all baby-sitting experiences will be amazing. Just a little while ago, I was baby-sitting a 2-year-old named Andrew. It was horrid. I was chasing him all over the house. He got into the videotapes and was throwing them all over as if they were his toys, and he was sticking CDs, pencils and disfigured army men in the VCR. Thank goodness I was only watching him for around an hour, but that entire hour he was destroying the house.
Kids younger than 4 will never stay put. As I mentioned before, if you take your eye off of them for one second, they’ll get into the refrigerator, pour out all the water and turn on the microwave if they can reach it. But overall, most kids will listen, and if they’re in the terrible twos, they come with a playpen. I put Andrew in his playpen, and he cried. So I put a bunch of his toys in there and he was OK.
Maybe that night baby-sitting for my sisters was pretty easy because the kids were my own family. Sometimes baby-sitting for a neighbor or strangers can be different because you really don’t know the likes and dislikes of the child or what the parents want you to do with their child. Getting to know the parents is probably one of the most important things when baby-sitting. You’ll learn what they expect of you as a baby sitter and the rules of their home.