Teenager’s guide to babysitting – Updated

Photo Credit: eliduke via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: eliduke via Compfight cc

Babysitting is one of the most popular jobs for teenagers. There is no legal age for when a teenager may start babysitting, and parents are probably the best judge of whether their child is ready and responsible enough.

How to find babysitting work for teenagers

Having a connection with the family that requires babysitting is the best scenario. A family friend, ‘friend of a friend’ or someone associated with your school, church or community group for example, is a safer connection than a stranger. Here are some other ideas.

  • Ask friends to recommend you if they are unable to take a babysitting job.
  • Ask to display an ad at daycare or out of school hours (OOSH) centres.
  • Post an ad on community noticeboards at your local shopping centre.
  • Advertise on Gumtree.
  • Some schools that have Kindergarten through to senior years have a babysitting register for older students to offer their services.

In the case of advertising to strangers, be careful to vet replies and parents should be involved in meeting employers for the first time.

What if my teenager doesn’t have experience?

Most parents will want an experienced babysitter. One way for your teenager to get experience is to offer to be a  ‘mother’s help’ for a family and spend a few hours a week helping parents with bath, dinner, and play. Instead of payment, they gain experience and a reference, with the added security of having the children’s parent on hand. And you never know, the parents may end up hiring them as a babysitter.

Babysitting rates for teenagers

What a teenager will get paid to babysit will depend on what the parents are happy to pay and the going rate for their age and experience. If unsure, ask friends what they get paid. According to our readers’ discussion on the forum, teenagers can expect on average around $10/hour for babysitting.

RELATED: How much does your teenager charge to babysit?

The following babysitting tips are from an excellent guide put together by the NSW Commission for Children and Young People. Encourage your teenager to read it to help make their experience safe and successful.

Before your babysitting job

  • Get all the information you need from the parents, including their address, contact phone numbers, how many children you’ll be babysitting, the children’s names and ages and any allergies or medical conditions they have.
  • Agree on the hours you will be working, your babysitting rate and exactly what is expected of you. If you aren’t sure about a fair rate of pay, check with friends who do babysitting, or ask your parents for advice.
  • Ask to meet the parents and children face to face before you start so you can all get to know each other and feel comfortable.
  • Learn basic first aid. You could do a first aid course with St John Ambulance or Red Cross. St John Ambulance provides a one-day ‘Caring for Kids’ first aid course, minimum age for participants is 14.
  • Learn the emergency phone numbers. The emergency fire, police and ambulance number is 000 and the poisons information number is 13 11 26.
  • Prepare some activities for the children. Make sure these are safe, suitable for the weather, and things you can do together.
  • Let your parents know where you will be and what time they should expect you home or come to pick you up.

The Babysitting Checklist, also published by the NSW Commission for Children and Young People, sets out all the details you should have before the parents leave home.

RELATED: Christmas jobs for teenagers

What to do at the babysitting job

  • When you arrive at the parents’ house for the first time ask them to show you around so you know where everything is. Don’t be afraid to ask questions – the more you know the better you can do the job.
  • Before the parents leave make sure you feel comfortable with the house rules, their approach to discipline and any expectations they have of you. If you’re not sure about anything, ask! The Babysitting Checklist can help.
  • When babysitting, don’t leave children alone. Watch out for hazards around the home such as unclosed gates, toys left on stairs, appliances left on or small objects kids could choke on left in reach. Never just assume they will be ok.
  • Keep to the house rules. Don’t invite friends over and don’t use the phone or internet for long periods unless the parents have told you it’s okay.
  • It’s also important to respect family differences and understand that other families may have different ways of doing things.
  • Clean up. Try to leave the house as you found it.
  • Try to stay calm if there’s an emergency. Call for help and follow the advice you receive from emergency services.
  • When the parents return, talk to them about any problems you’ve had. It’s better to be upfront about problems, rather than have the parents find out later.
  • When you get home tell your parents if anything happened that made you feel uncomfortable or worried while you were babysitting. You can also call the Kids Help Line on 1800 55 1800 to talk about any concerns you have.

The NSW Commission for Children and Young People’s Babysitting Guide also has also links to other important information relating to young children including: diet, health and allergies; how to change a nappy and how to settle a baby; rules for crossing roads, playing near car parks or busy streets; and road, sun and water safety.

Download a full version PDF of The Babysitting Guide

RELATED: Jobs for 13-year-olds

(First published 9 Sep 2011; Updated 17 Oct 2013)

What other tips or advice can you add for teenagers who wish to start babysitting?

 

Comments

  1. We have a never assess head injury rule – so any bang to the head and we are to come straight home – more because if it is bad, that’s unfair to put that much responsibility on a young teen (and sibling, in our case). So the wee ones are not to jump on couch or wrestle if we aren’t there….
    Lydia C. Lee recently posted..Jump Around (part 2)My Profile

  2. Great. resourceful post, Rach. I haven’t dared to venture out to seek a teenage baby sitter yet. Well, I lie. Someone from my running group wanted me to hire her teenage daughter. Yet, she wanted ME to be AROUND when her daughter was babysitting. Defeat the purpose much??? I know she just wanted her daughter to start getting experience but I got the feeling we were to be the guinea pig family. Needless to say, I never hired her.
    Grace recently posted..FYBF – The BFF EditionMy Profile

    • Ha ha! That’s hilarious. What I would suggest is, if you wanted, she could come and act as a ‘mother’s help’ in the afternoon/evening and help you with bath, dinner, play etc, FOR FREE, so she could get experience and a reference, and you could see if you were happy to eventually pay her for babysitting. In fact, I am going to add that as a tip above!

  3. A great set of tips and a great website to have discovered! Shall be keeping an eye on this space! 😀
    Jody at Six Little Hearts recently posted..Celebrating HalloweenMy Profile

  4. Neither of my teens babysits… I think I’d worry about them quite a bit if they did. Thanks for heads up on the leaflet that’s great info.
    Seana – Sydney, Kids, Food + Travel recently posted..The World Shifts – When My Husband Heads Off To KurdistanMy Profile

  5. This is a really useful post for both teenagers wanting to get into babysitting and for parents unsure of how to start off! I know I have no idea about going rates, etc. Thanks for cluing me up a bit too!
    Kirsty @ My Home Truths recently posted..A Belated Welcome to my Home!My Profile

  6. I used to do babysitting when I was younger, but haven’t used that many baby sitters for our boys over the years!
    I like your tips and ideas on feeling comfortable in the house. I remember baby sitting one time in a house that was so very cold, and I couldn’t get warm…it was not a house I ever returned to again because it made me feel so unwelcome 🙂
    Lisa Wood recently posted..Can We Survive ThisMy Profile

  7. Kim@spirited mama says:

    Radhel this is the most comprehensive and thoughtful piece I’ve seen written about babysitting. I’m on the other end, I don’t use many as I don’t go out much and my daughter is very particular. It’s so important for the sitter to understand eir responsibility but also how much little kids can love or be frightened of them. Thanks

  8. Wow, this is really useful thank you! We don’t know any teenagers that we could use for babysitting but I do remember doing it when I was a teenager. x

  9. Interesting to read this, might have to pass on to my friend who has children who are just starting to do this!!!!!!
    Emily @ Have a laugh on me recently posted..How I met a smoking hot firie featured in the 2014 Firefighter CalendarMy Profile

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