As the African proverb goes, “It takes a village to raise a child.” In our modern society of nuclear families and busy schedules, babysitters and nannies help their communities experience this timeless village analogy.
In many ways, babysitting is a rewarding and promising career. Many families could not thrive without the invaluable support of their babysitter. Some sitters work their way from minimum wage side gigs to full-time, 6-figure nanny careers. Others grow into established childcare professionals, from opening their own businesses to becoming influential teachers.
Whether you want to become a nanny or are considering raising your rates in the future, you should know what makes a great babysitter. Keep reading to learn how to be a better babysitter, and why it matters.
Why Should Babysitters Aim to Get Better?
As a babysitter, you’re as multifaceted and unique as the families you serve. There are no two babysitters who are the same, and there is no such thing as a perfect babysitter. Your goal is to be the best babysitter that suits the lifestyle, expectations, and childcare needs of the family.
Here’s why improving yourself as a babysitter matters:
- Experienced, highly-skilled babysitters earn more money.
- If you’re great at your job, you’ll get word-of-mouth referrals from parents.
- As a babysitter, you play a crucial role in child development! This is an honorable role that you should strive to be the best at.
- Whether you’re a parent or want to be one someday, babysitting familiarizes you with what children need to grow and learn.
- There are many types of babysitters and nannies. From traveling au pairs to live-in nannies to temporary babysitters, the more skills you develop means you’ll have more qualifications for your preferred job.
That being said, there are several qualities and skills that most parents look for in a babysitter or nanny. As with any other service-based job, there’s always room for improvement (and higher pay).
11 Ways Babysitters Can Improve Their Services
As someone interested in childcare, you might already have personality traits that make a great babysitter: compassion, gentleness, discipline, responsibility, and light-heartedness. Soft skills are important, but hard skills and communication are equally vital to improving your service. Here are some tips.
1. Develop a Mindset of Service
To be a better babysitter, let go of the stereotypical anecdote where a grumpy 16-year-old neighbor has to take care of a few bratty kids. Babysitting and nannying are responsible service jobs. You are serving families and contributing to society by allowing parents to work, get stuff done, and even take some much-needed time off.
While some people may raise an eyebrow or question why you chose a babysitting career, remember: you are getting paid to help raise a generation. Adopt a positive mindset and a “can do” attitude, then show up with confidence.
2. Prioritize Education
Education is crucial for yourself and the children you care for. You should:
- Continue to learn and take classes on child development and child psychology.
- Constantly observe the latest trends in education and child entertainment.
- Create a log of fun ideas, learning activities, age-appropriate books, and safe experiences you can provide.
- Organize educational activities in a curriculum planning app if your role involves tutoring, teaching, or homeschooling.
Remember, the best teachers are learners. The best babysitters value teaching and learning.
3. Be Clear About Expectations
Discuss expectations upfront with parents. Be sure you know your own expectations from the beginning. How many children can you watch at once? Will you cook, clean, and change diapers? Are you willing to be a mommy’s helper early in the morning? What do the parents expect from you, and how will you know if they’re pleased or disappointed?
Be clear about expectations on all sides, even with kids who can understand rules and tasks. You can always start with strong boundaries and then relax them a bit as earned. Beginning with zero boundaries and then trying to enforce new ones can be difficult.
4. Improve Your Communication
How can you communicate better with parents? Aside from daily summaries and incident reports, some parents love to get little updates via photo or text. Childcare-parent messaging apps are useful if you want to securely share videos of the kids throughout the week, and easily keep all your clients’ conversations in a professional app.
5. Be Organized and Prepared
Staying organized makes your job easier, relieves parents of excess tasks, and encourages kids to stay on track with their daily routines. Here are some aspects of babysitting you can organize better:
- Your work schedule(s) and availability
- Child schedules and appointments
- Learning supplies and materials you need to bring
- Household supplies and materials parents need to restock
- Activity agendas
- Lesson plans
- 5-10 minute warnings for activity changes
- First aid kit
- Emergency phone numbers
More importantly, organizing helps you stay prepared for unexpected situations. Injuries, safety risks, conflict, bad behavior, and miscommunication are all normal parts of babysitting. Remain aware of your surroundings and pay attention to the kids no matter what.
6. Keep Records of Daily Activities
In addition to staying organized, the best babysitters keep notes of significant events that occur each day. This can include child achievements, behavioral issues, meals and snacks, nap times, potty training wins and misses, injuries, learning activities, and more. Keep a journal or digital log so you never forget to inform parents of details they want to know.
7. Get Rid of Unnecessary Distractions
If you want to be a good babysitter or nanny, you need to be aware of the things that distract you from doing your best.
- Are you tempted to scroll through your phone during mealtime?
- Do you get easily frustrated when a child talks back to you?
- Are you waiting for the day to end instead of staying in the present moment?
Work to eliminate distractions and improve your focus. Limit your phone notifications and usage, remember to not take a child’s behavior personally, and aim to engage and attend to the kids first.
8. Welcome Feedback and Criticism
Every job comes with feedback and sometimes criticism. As someone who’s providing care and quality time to children, parents may sometimes have different ideals and expectations than you. Stay open to suggestions, strive to understand parents’ expectations, and always take criticism as an opportunity to grow.
9. Honor Boundaries
Every family has different values, discipline methods, priorities, and lifestyle habits. Children grow and learn best when there’s consistency and structure, so maintain the family’s wishes and boundaries. This includes:
- Daily routines and schedules
- Nutritional preferences
- Rules and consequences
- Screen time limits
- Acceptable toys
- Playtime with neighbors and friends
Also, if there are any extra household tasks you’re responsible for, always do your best job at those as well.
10. Let Yourself Have Fun
The best babysitters know how to have fun while maintaining a safe, structured environment. Let yourself be silly, laugh, and be active with the kids — all children need to enjoy and explore positive experiences! Having fun also encourages you to stay sane and feel rewarded on the job. And let’s face it: nobody wants a babysitter who’s boring and serious all the time.
11. Automate Your Admin Tasks
Whether you babysit for one family or have multiple households on rotation each week, every babysitter or nanny role comes with some administrative tasks. From scheduling and transportation to parent communication, automated babysitting apps can help you save time. These software tools help you focus on what matters most: spending time with the children.
Daily Connect: The Ultimate Babysitting App
Set yourself up for success to be the best babysitter you can be by using a digital management tool. The Daily Connect app helps you implement all these skills and everyday actions into your service so you can improve, stay organized, communicate better, and get paid more.
See how the Daily Connect Babysitter app works. Click here to begin a free trial today.