Working as a babysitter is a great option for you if you want to do a rewarding job while earning extra income in a rather flexible way. Some parents only look for babysitters during summertime but many of them need extra help throughout the year. It takes some time to meet the right family, but it always helps if you’re familiar with the various types of babysitting jobs out there: babysitter, au pair, nanny, in-home daycare, etc. We’ve prepared a comprehensive guide to everything you need to know about summer babysitting jobs and long-term positions as a caregiver, including some practical tips on how to nail the job interview, write a babysitter cover letter, and become a better babysitter.
How to get a babysitting job
By reading babysitter job descriptions, you’ll gain essential insight into babysitting. You get a better understanding of what this type of job entails, what the general requirements are, how much money one can make, and so on. If you haven’t gained any experience with kids at all, it will help you decide whether or not to work in childcare. Although experienced babysitters are more popular among parents, beginner babysitters also have good prospects to get hired. To increase your chances, take a CPR and First Aid course at your local community or education center or hospital. Babysitting agencies tend to organize workshops and/or courses for babysitters who have signed a contract with them before sending them information on families. If you sign up for an online platform, such as Sitter, Care, UrbanSitter, Sittercity, Bambino or MyVillage, you probably have to find a course on your own.
Step by step guide on how to become a babysitter
It starts with you making a decision. The next steps vary in accordance with your methods of finding a job. Some online portals and babysitting agencies only welcome you if you are over 18, while you may sign up for others as a 13-year-old with parental consent. Also, many apps request a (third-party) background check or ask you to provide proof of your clean criminal and driver’s record. To save time, read the requirements and the Terms and Conditions before submitting an application. Another key to success is to find out which babysitting apps operate and pay the most in your area.
Step 1: Online application & registration
To join an online portal (and local agency), you usually have to register by providing your name, phone number and email address (sometimes your age), or using your Gmail, Facebook or even LinkedIn account. Sites that connect families with sitters, cleaners, pet sitters, gardeners and such will ask you to choose what you’re looking for. On Care.com and MyVillage that helps you start your own childcare & preschool business, you have to type in your zip code, too. In the majority of the cases, the registration doesn’t cost anything unless you select a paid plan. (CareGuide’s Sitter.com offers a monthly, quarterly, and yearly subscription. If you want to register on their other sites as well, you have to pay separately for each subscription.) If you like Bambino (in the US) or Bubble (in the UK) the most, you start by downloading an app. Some online sites/apps demand exclusivity, meaning you can’t join multiple companies.
Step 2: Application Process
After pressing submit or apply, someone from the platform will contact you. If you browse jobs on the website of a self-serving agency (such as Sitter.com), you should not expect a message from anyone. Most online sites (Sittercity for example) and apps require you to pass a background check. In addition to passing a background check, you have to obtain a license to open your daycare with MyVillage. You don’t have to pursue the quest alone, you’ll receive help from them. It takes ca. 10-12 weeks to get all the necessary papers. During the application process, you may have to upload documents such as a CV, a cover letter and/or a copy of your CPR/First Aid certificate.
Step 3: Complete your profile
Even though online platforms differ in many ways, all of them encourage you to build a strong profile. If a parent doesn’t like what they see on your page or feels that you don’t take it seriously, they won’t initiate contact with you or send you a reply to your message. And you won’t be able to fully use the search function on the platform if you don’t provide any information. Always invest time in building your profile.
Present yourself professionally
You have to write a brief introduction in which you share some relevant details about yourself. If there is no other space provided to list your qualifications, experiences, skills and the languages you speak, summarize those too. Consider this text as a kind of babysitter cover letter, although you will need to work on actual messages. Make sure the text is grammatically correct and your professionalism shines through it. Use a digital writing tool (Grammarly, ProWritingAid, etc.) or ask a friend if you need help with grammar.
You also have to set a profile picture, one that is bright and has good quality. Use your smartphone or camera to take one. Don’t forget to smile and wear something appropriate. If you have worked with kids before or have kids in the family, choose a photo in which you’re shown with them. Sometimes, instead of or in addition to the photo, you need to make a short video. This is quite common for babysitting agencies.
List your services and rates
While Care.com lets you add some details (mother tongue, own vehicle, etc.) separately, Sitter.com allows you to list your services (daycare, babysitter, etc.), responsibilities (meal prep, arts & crafts, etc.), qualifications (First Aid, CPR, etc.), the age preferred age of the kids and the number of kids you’re willing to look after among other things. Babysitters usually set an hourly, a daily, or a monthly rate. You who determine them but be open to negotiation—especially if you’ll be working with the family for a few months. Read up on taxation as you may have to file your taxes on your own.
Indicate your availability
An online portal rarely sets the hours, it’s usually the babysitter who decides where, when and how often to work: part-time, short-term, long-term, live-in and live-out, etc. This gives you the flexibility to adjust your work schedule to your school schedule if you study.
Step 4: Apply for jobs
Once your profile is set up, you’re ready to go. Browse the ads shared by parents and send them well-articulated, polite messages if you’re interested in working for them. Some apps and platforms limit your access to certain features if you subscribe to their free plan. What does this mean? It means that you may have to pay a one-time fee or purchase a paid plan to be able to connect with parents.
Who to contact?
In a scenario where you must find a job, you will feel the urge to write to even those parents whom you would not reach out to otherwise. Let’s say you’re interested only in summer babysitting jobs but you send messages to parents looking for someone for the school year. Waiting for something to come up is stressful, yet it’s best to pour your energy into dealing with ads that describe people like you.
When looking for a long-term babysitter, parents will question you about everything stated in the babysitter job description to see your commitment to the job: how comfortable you feel about traveling so much, working right after school, staying long hours, etc. If you take on a job and leave them halfway through, you risk receiving a lower rating and a bad review. This is the worst-case scenario, which highlights the importance of honesty and trust in the babysitter–parent relationship.
Babysitter cover letter/messages
A few template messages come in handy but you should always personalize them. That will show the parent(s) that you have read their advertisement. No need to send a long letter but a concise one. Explain why you’re the best for the job. If you have never applied for any job, ask someone to check your messages. Check the text using a digital writing tool, too.
Step 5: Attend interviews
An interview is not always part of the process. For example, when a parent needs to run an urgent, unforeseen errand and has no time to schedule one. If you accept an on-demand request, you go to the location and start working right away. Families looking for a long-term babysitter usually find the time for an interview. If you look for a job as an au pair abroad, it will be held online. If you and the family live in the same city, an offline meeting will take place. If possible, arrange a meeting with the parents to get to know each other better and share your expectations and concerns.
Step 6: Start your first babysitting job
If you’re lucky, you get hired right after the first interview. Remember not only the families but also you can choose to schedule more interviews. Sometimes it takes a few casual meetings to find the right person/family. If you get a job via Sitter.com, it’s recommended to sign a contract, detailing your tasks, salary, schedule, payment method, etc. So you don’t have to worry about anything and have something in your hand in case something goes wrong.
How to get paid
Your clients either pay you through the app using your or their preferred payment method (cash, PayPal, direct deposit, etc.). For example, Zūm pays its drivers who transport kids through direct deposit, UrbanSitter asks you to choose cash or credit, and Care.com allows you to get paid through their Payments Center, but it’s not a requirement. Bambino and Bubble are cashless platforms, so all payments are processed through the app.
Ratings and reviews
After every completed job, your client will rate and/or review your services and you will provide feedback on them. To get more summer babysitting jobs or any kind of babysitting jobs in your city, try to keep a high score and collect only positive reviews.
Photo by Deniz on Unsplash. If your family prefers bikes as a means of transportation, get ready for some bike rides.
Nailing the interview for a babysitter job
If the family likes your profile and consider hiring you as their babysitter, they will invite you for a meeting—an interview. It’s an opportunity for them and for you to get to know each other and see whether you click or not. Sometimes parents will leave you with the kids for a while to see how you get along with each other. If the children are older, they usually have a say in who gets hired as their babysitter, nanny, au pair, etc. The interview doesn’t have to be difficult or scary. As long as you show up prepared, know what to expect and behave naturally, it will go fine.
Here come 8 tips to nail your babysitting interviews
Get prepared for questions! There are some standard questions parents usually ask candidates: What do you do? What’s your experience with children? What would you do if the child is misbehaving? How would you handle emergencies? What are your expectations as a babysitter? Think of these questions and prepare your answers in advance.
Be on time! It’s obvious but you never know when you end up in a traffic jam. Being on time is super important to make a good first impression. If you arrive too early, walk around a bit or sit on a bench for a while. You should knock on the door five minutes before the agreed time.
Be presentable! You don’t need to wear a suit or a fancy dress, but make sure that you’re comfortable and presentable.
Have your documents ready! Whatever documents you had to submit earlier, such as a cover letter, CV or reference letters, make sure you have copies on you. Parents may ask you to show them during the interview as well.
Be happy! It’s natural to feel nervous during the interview. It helps if you look at it as a pleasant chat instead. This will help you stay upbeat and friendly. These are the qualities parents and agencies typically look for in babysitters.
Be honest! Be upfront about your skills and experience, lying about them doesn’t help. What’s more, lies may cause you some trouble further down the line.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions! This interview is also for you to learn more about the family. If you’re allergic to cats or dogs, you must know whether you would be around them while working.
Follow up on the interview! It’s good practice to send a message after the interview, saying that it was nice to meet the family and that you’re looking forward to hearing back from them.
Photo by Gustavo Fring
Babysitting tips: how to be a good babysitter
You got the job, congrats! What’s left is making sure you’re ready and well-prepared for it. Beginner babysitters learn along the way but being proactive helps you reach the advanced level sooner. For starters, allot a few hours to reading articles about babysitting, children and anything related before your first day.
Here come 18 tips that help you do your job well
- Ask questions! It’s important to learn as much as you can about the children (for example their allergies), their routine, and the rules they have to follow. Parents will tell you everything important but asking questions makes you look more reliable and professional. Knowing all the details will help you settle into the job quicker.
- Always be on time! If the children are older, you may barely meet the parents as they trust their children to stay at home alone for a few hours. That being said, you should always arrive on time and text the parents about your arrival if needed. If you’re running late, call them.3. Get to know the children! If you look after older children, being a friend to them will make the experience more fun for them and the job easier for you. We know it’s easier said than done.4. Stay focused! Your job is to watch the children and perhaps do some light household chores. Stay off your phone and avoid turning on the TV. Keep your focus on the children!
- Be consistent! Depending on the age of the children, you will give them orders. You have to be consistent when allowing or forbidding them to do something. If you always change your mind after some nagging, they will never listen to you and follow the rules set for them.
- Be kind! It’s possible to be consistent and kind at the same time. Pay attention to your communication and you won’t have any problem.
- Keep it fun! If you look after siblings of different ages, keeping them engaged will challenge you. Try to think of some activity suitable for each of them. If you have some special skills (drawing, singing, dancing, etc.) that can come in handy, use it. If it doesn’t work, try another one, especially when they don’t have any homework to do.
- Be flexible! Not every kid, but many kids have mood swings, which forces parents to reschedule a babysit or forces you to change the plans and come up with a new idea for entertainment, for example. Even if you find this hard, you must adjust if needed.
- Leave early when going somewhere! Sometimes kids have an appointment they cannot miss and you have to take them there. Kids have good days and bad days and you have to prepare for anything. To have some buffer time, leave as early as possible.
- Keep the parents updated! Many parents prefer to stay updated while they’re gone. If the parents express such a wish, send them texts regularly to let them know how their kids are doing.
- Know what to do in emergencies! We hope nothing happens but you have to be ready for anything. Have a discussion with the parents and agree on the steps you should take if something does happen.
- Don’t mute your phone! Smartphones have changed how people communicate. Fewer and fewer people pick up the phone to call someone, texting has become way more popular. Because of this, turning on the sound on your phone doesn’t make so much sense. Yet if you babysit, you have to do it not to miss a phone call from the parents.
- Save important numbers in your phone! Emergencies can occur and you should act as quickly as possible. Always save the parents’ and grandparents’ numbers. Think about whom you’ll be in contact with and get their numbers.
- Clean up the mess! Whatever activities you do with the children, always clean up after you’re done. Even if you don’t have to do any chores, loading the dishwasher and picking up the dirty clothes are something every parent would appreciate. Who knows, they may leave you a nice tip.
- Know your tasks! If you sign a contract with your clients, list them there. An average babysitter only looks after the children but some parents have some special requests. If you know what is expected of you, you won’t disappoint your clients.
- Chat with the parents! If you’re not in a hurry, engage in some conversations with the parents. This helps you build a trusted relationship with them, get to know them better and feel more like a family member or a friend.
- Listen to the feedback received! Even the most experienced childcare providers get comments on their work. If you have never been criticized before, it will be tough at first, but you’ll get used to it. Constructive criticism will help you become a better babysitter. If you disagree with what you hear, express your thoughts professionally.
- Stay in touch! If you work with multiple families occasionally, it’s a good idea to ask them about their plans. This will help you plan ahead and show the parents that you take your job seriously. Also, if you want to transition from summer babysitting jobs to long-term babysitting jobs, don’t hesitate to call or email the families, or ask them on your last day whether they need someone from September.
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