10 Reasons You Should Be a Teen Babysitter
Want to make a little extra cash for fun nights out? If you're creative and love kids, babysitting is perfect for you. It can be demanding, but if you're committed and mature enough to care for young children for a few hours, babysitting is an easy way to make money.
We checked in with Halley Bondy, author of "Don't Sit on the Baby!: The Ultimate Guide to Sane, Skilled, and Safe Babysitting," Laura Gauld, author of "The Biggest Job We'll Ever Have," and Amanda Raposo, executive director of New York's Project Playdate, to get their reasons for why you should be a babysitter.
You'll Make Money
The number one reason to be a babysitter: you make money! Sitters earn cold, hard cash for their time and it can be thrilling to see all that green in your hand.
How much will you make as a babysitter? It depends on your area, how many kids you watch and if they'll be sleeping or awake. To get a good ballpark figure, check out Care.com's Babysitter Pay Calculator.
Plus, the more experience you gain, the longer you work for a family and the more child care and safety classes you take, the more likely you are to earn an occasional raise.
You'll Get to Play Games
Kids can be pretty demanding and you'll have to keep them entertained with games and activities. And everyone loves playing with toys -- no matter how old you are. (We promise we won't rat you out your friends!)
Try browsing your library for books on activities kids enjoy. See if your parents have any of your old toys in storage that you don't mind sharing.
You'll Make New Contacts
Raposo began her babysitting career at 13 and says she was more than ready to tackle the job. "My commitment to leadership and responsibility even at that age made me the sitter of choice for our headmaster and two other faculty families," Raposo says. "I continued working for these families into high school and expanded my work with children as a volunteer in an after-school program."
Her experience eventually led her to bigger and better things because of the contacts she made. She was able to use her network of parents to help create a non-profit and form a child care company after college.
If you do a good job, your contacts could help you land other jobs, college recommendations, internships and opportunities outside of babysitting.
You'll Learn Safety and Emergency Preparedness
Emergencies can occur while you're in charge and it's important to be prepared. If you become a babysitter, you should take child care classes and safety classes in CPR and first aid. And these skills are useful for many jobs beyond babysitting and for everyday life.
Interested? Read up on How to Get First Aid and CPR Training
You'll Fill Out Your College Application
Being a teen sitter will ensure you have plenty of skills to include in your application. Not only does it look great that you're engaging with young children and are able to maintain a steady job, but you can relate the talents you acquired to your potential college interests. Want to be an English major? Mention that you helped a young child learn to read. Want to be a business major? Mention all the money you made and how you learned about savings and investing.
And babysitting often lends itself to entertaining stories for an application essay. Did you have trouble balancing school, family and babysitting? Did you have one particularly difficult child, but found a way to break through? These are all great instances that can form a winning college essay.
You'll Be Prepared for a "Real" Job
Babysitting gives teens a small taste of the working world and an opportunity to understand how to cooperate with an employer, ask for raises and bring up potential issues. And it might help you figure out the big question adults are always bugging you about: "What do you want to do with your life?"
Bondy's position as a sitter stayed with her for years. "I practiced and practiced. I wound up seeking out opportunities throughout college in an agency, and throughout my adult life as a nanny -- so one can say the work definitely grew on me."
You'll Boost Your Confidence
Knowing you can care for and entertain young children, as well as talk with your employers, is a big ego-booster. When your employers ask you back because their kids love spending time with you, you feel like a success. This confidence can spread to other aspects of your life: school, home and future employment opportunities.
You'll Gain a Greater Appreciation for the Less Fortunate
"Anytime you are dealing with children, you learn to develop sensitivities within yourself," says Gauld. "Children are vulnerable and need protecting. A good babysitter will become more attuned to those individuals in our society that are also vulnerable."
There are many great nonprofit organizations that need help -- and your experience working with kids will be a huge bonus if you want to volunteer or work for them.
You'll Learn How to Budget
What are you going to do with the money you earn? Having a job -- any job -- requires maturity. If you spend your money on things you want (the latest video game, that fabulous prom dress or the latest Sephora specials), you'll be out of money in a heartbeat.
Learning how to budget your money (save some for the future and use some for fun things right now), will be one of the best lessons you'll learn from babysitting.
You'll Develop Better Communication and Relationship Skills
"Caring for a child means that [you] must tap into and develop [your] greatest qualities: trust, honesty, creativity, patience and effective communication," Raposo says. "Learning how to address the frustrations of a child who does not want to listen or engage requires a willingness to accept and navigate human relationships."
Learning how to deal with relationships is a skill that everyone needs. From boys to friends to teachers to future employers, you'll have to communicate with people for the rest of your life. If you can handle a cranky two-year-old or a pouting pre-teen, everything else will be a cinch!
Jennifer Eberhart is a freelance writer. She spent many years as a babysitter and loves kids. Her work can be found here.
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