Self-Care Tips for Babysitters

By Christine Ascher on August 8, 2017

Babysitting is a great way to earn some extra cash while you’re in college — especially if you’re too busy to take on a consistent part-time job.

One of its major benefits is that babysitting allows you more flexibility in setting your own schedule. It also gives you the freedom to only take on work when you have the time. However, these benefits are only valid if you’re realistic about your own limits and aren’t afraid to say no when it becomes necessary.

It can be easy to get caught up in a flurry of babysitting and to end up feeling exhausted and overwhelmed, especially when you need the extra cash. To avoid sacrificing your own well-being to the pressure of making that extra money and of being reliable, it’s essential that you know how to take care of yourself.

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Know your limits

Babysitting is a tough job, and it’s an important one. Above all, parents want to know that when they leave their children with you, everyone will be safe and well-cared for. For this reason, don’t feel bad turning down a situation that you fear may be too much for you.

If you’re only comfortable caring for one child at a time, let the parents know that. They’ll be glad for your honesty and will then have the chance to find someone who will be more experienced with the situation. Set some limits for yourself in terms of age as well. Especially if you’re a relatively inexperienced babysitter, you might want to avoid agreeing to care for children who are too young.

A third factor to consider is the total amount of time that you’re okay with spending looking after kids. Babysitting for a couple of hours is one thing, but it’s entirely different if you’re doing it for a whole day. Once you’ve had some experience, you’ll know at what point you start feeling worn out; it’s a good idea to say no if the parents want you to work for longer. If you get yourself in over your head, you’ll end up feeling overwhelmed and won’t be able to give the children you’re babysitting the attention that they need.

Know when to say no

It’s a well-established fact that college students are busy. If you feel like you don’t have time to babysit, don’t feel like you’re just making excuses if you say no. The parents should understand if you’re not free or if the timing doesn’t work for your schedule. Babysitting requires a lot of energy, so it’s okay to turn down a job even if it’s just because you don’t feel quite up to it.

When you’re turning down a babysitting job, let the parents know as soon as possible that you won’t be available. The more time you give them to find a new babysitter, the easier the situation will be for both of you; parents will be more likely to pressure you if you cancel on them last minute, rather than if you give them plenty of time to find a replacement or change their plans. It also shows that you are responsible and respectful of their schedule, which will, in turn, make them more likely to come to you again in the future when you might have more time.

Let them know you’d still be interested in the future

Whenever you turn down a babysitting job due to your schedule, it’s a good idea to let the parents know when they can expect you to have more free time. If you don’t want to babysit during the school year but would be more than willing during the summer, tell the parents to ensure that they’re aware that you still want to babysit for them in the future.

By letting them know when you’ll be available, you’re showing that you’re still interested while simultaneously preventing them from pressuring you to babysit in the meantime. They’ll most likely give you a reprieve while you’re busy so you won’t have to feel guilty about saying no to them over and over.

Sanitize

Kids spread germs, so if you want to avoid getting sick after babysitting, make sure you’re washing your hands and using hand sanitizer regularly. Do the same for the kids as well; make sure that they wash their hands after being picked up from school or playdates, and after playing outside. Try to clean toys as well before playing with them, as they probably will be covered with germs from repeated use.

Bring along a bottle of hand sanitizer and a small packet of wipes when you’re babysitting, so that you’re well-prepared to combat germs. It might also be a good idea to double-check with the parents before you agree to a job to see if any of the kids you’ll be babysitting have been sick recently, or if there’s any sickness going around their school.

It’s okay to turn down a job if one of the kids has a cold or worse. The parents will probably feel worse if you end up getting sick after babysitting than if you explain to them that you don’t want to take the risk. Take responsibility for your own health, as this is the most effective way to ensure your own well-being.

By Christine Ascher

Uloop Writer
Hi! I'm Christine and I'm currently a junior at the University of Southern California, where I study English Literature, Economics, and French.

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