12 Pros and Cons of Being a Babysitter

Babysitter

Childcare workers in all categories receive lower wages than in other professions.

As of May 2021, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, childcare workers make a median wage of $27,490.

However, this varies widely according to the type of childcare, the worker’s education level, and where the care takes place.

For example, since babysitters are younger, less educated, and typically provide care in the family’s home, they also make less money per hour.

Pros of a Babysitting Career

1. Babysitter Training and Experience Commands Higher Pay

Babysitters with at least a high school diploma, Red Cross First Aid, and Basic Life Support/Infant CPR should command higher wages than teen or pre-teen babysitters without training.

Although the lines can sometimes blur, once a babysitter completes formal childcare training, they typically advance to being an au pair, nanny, or preschool teacher.

This training could be at the high school level in a childcare vocational program or at the college level in Early Childhood Education.

To mitigate costs, look for community programs and apply for any financial assistance available in your area.

Retired teachers sometimes opt to babysit and should receive payment according to their experience and training.

Retired daycare and preschool teachers often make better long-term babysitters than those attending childhood education programs. 

Due to their expertise, former teachers can predict your child’s behavioral and security needs better than a young, inexperienced babysitter.

2. Job Satisfaction

Babysitters usually choose to work with children because they know the work matters.

Keeping children safe and happy provides inner satisfaction unrelated to the pay.

What other job allows you to play, pretend, and stay active the way childcare does?

3. Having Fun

Can you teach origami, juggling, or magic tricks?

Do you have a grab bag filled with awesome toys and goodies?

Do you know how to make bubbles using a colander, mixing bowl, slotted spoon, and box fan?

Then you would keep any kid entertained for hours.

Make sure you keep the bubbles outside, and you won’t have to do any cleanup.

But if you or the children spill anything, wipe everything down with a clean, damp cloth.

Other cheap, easy, and fun activities include tea parties, pirate raids, cardboard box safety towns, and building pillow forts.

Drape a white sheet over something sturdy and have a movie night in the backyard or living room.

The best part is, when the fun ends, you go home with a pocket full of money.

The kids have memories for a lifetime.

4. You Set Your Hours

Are you a bit of a night owl?

If so, be a second and third-shift babysitter.

Working parents don’t always have the luxury of a daytime schedule.

Make yourself available for after-school and midnight or overnight babysitting; parents will keep you busy every day of the week.

Use some of your babysitting money to put yourself through an early childhood education degree and graduate debt-free.

5. Helping Children

Babysitters often see children reach milestones, such as sitting alone, pulling themselves up to cruise the furniture, or taking their first steps.

Do your best to record these moments, so parents don’t miss these adorable events.

For example, lie on the floor facing the baby to record crawling or creeping.

Sit on your knees to record walking.

Hold a brightly colored toy to hold the child’s attention, and make faces or funny noises, so the toddler or child will laugh.

Later, send the pix and videos to the parents.

However, NEVER post anything without the express permission of the parents.

Do not seek clout from publishing someone else’s child.

6. No Need for Expensive Training

You can start a babysitting business by simply being willing to be a mother’s helper when she’s home.

By taking on the hard work, cleaning, cooking, and chasing after the child, the mom gets to rest, and you have her right there if something goes wrong.

Also, allow mom and dad to show you how things should happen in their home.

That way, you know the child’s routine, quirks, and quibbles when the parents leave the house.

Cons of a Babysitting Career

1. Training Costs Vary

The Red Cross offers an online Babysitting Basics course for $45.

Babysitters aged 11 and older will learn to provide age-appropriate care for infants and children.

In addition, the classes include what steps to take in an emergency, handling challenging behavior, and how to start and maintain a babysitting business.

Aspiring sitters may use the free, online-only textbook or pay $13.95 to receive a hard copy of the Child Care Health & Safety Training Program Participant Handbook.

Some school districts offer free childcare training courses in high school.

Check with your state’s Health and Human Services Department for more information.

Mississippi, for example, offers two free courses for infant care providers: “Infant and Toddler Group Needs” and a separate class called “Infant and Toddler Regulations.”

2. Low Pay

Although fun and games make time pass faster, they do not pay your bills.

The spotty nature of childcare means having to go without necessities if you do not have a steady supply of scheduled babysitting gigs.

Parents who expect you to take care of multiple children for long hours but pay you less than you’d make at a minimum-wage job can make a babysitting career frustrating.

Always set your rate at an amount that will at least equal your state’s minimum hourly rate or parlay your babysitting experience into a job at a daycare, preschool, or after-school care center.

Use a childcare cost calculator to help you convince parents to pay a more reasonable rate. 

Care.com has parents type in their zip code, the number of kids and the hours per week to set a fair rate.

3. Cleanup Time

Rambunctious toddlers and young kids can turn the entire house into a disaster area in seconds.

However, turn cleanup time into another game, and the job takes much less effort.

Pull out the boxes you played in earlier, and tell the kids they are magic toy vacuum cleaners or garbage trucks.

Children who never clean will spend an hour running around with a box to bring back the most stuff.

Drop any trash into the bin and put the other containers in the room where the contents belong.

Have the kids help wash and dry the silverware and any unbreakable dishes, and you take care of the rest.

The children’s parents will love you for leaving the house cleaner than when you arrived.

4. Parents Don’t Come Home on Time

Sometimes things happen that keep parents out later than they expected.

For example, traffic after an event, a car accident, or wanting to squeeze in an extra moment of peace may cause parents to delay coming home.

On the other hand, they may have had such a good time that they forgot to check the time.

Be understanding, but do not allow parents to abuse your kindness.

If a parent is chronically late, ask for extra pay.

Make sure you agree on how long your babysitting gig should last and have a chart of charges for every fifteen minutes above schedule.

5. Unruly Kids and Unreasonable Parents

You must follow the house rules and ensure that the children do their best to do what their parents expect.

They have entrusted you with their most precious possession: their offspring.

They will be frantic with worry the whole time they go out to an event.

If they call and ask for Facetime or Zoom, do what they ask.

However, if a rule makes no sense, try to avoid situations where that would apply. 

Parents are not angels. Some will talk down to you, get angry with you, or even lie to you.

Take it in stride when you can, but do not continue working for them if they belittle or bully you or the children.

Although babysitters do not usually follow mandatory reporting, tell the authorities if you see what seems like abuse or neglect.

Remember, just because that parent does things differently does not make something abusive. 

6. Not Knowing How to Respond to Emergencies

If you opt for no training, you may not know what to do when a child chokes, if the smoke alarm goes off, or if a sudden storm causes a power outage.

Staying calm will prevent 90 percent of situations from getting worse.

Breathe, think, and call the children’s parents if you can.

Keep a small flashlight, battery-operated tea lights, or a mini lantern with you.

Under no circumstances, however, should you light a candle while babysitting.

Pros and Cons of Being a Babysitter – Summary Table

Pros of a Babysitting CareerCons of a Babysitting Career
1. Babysitter Training and Experience Commands Higher Pay1. Training Costs Vary
2. Job Satisfaction2. Low Pay
3. Having Fun3. Cleanup Time
4. You Set Your Hours4. Parents Don't Come Home on Time
5. Helping Children5. Unruly Kids and Unreasonable Parents
6. No Need for Expensive Training6. Not Knowing How to Respond to Emergencies

Summary

Babysitting can provide you with pocket money, but it typically does not offer a decent living.

Use your earnings to attend college or trade school instead of spending it if you manage to do so.

If not, use your babysitting money to pay bills, keep gas in your car, and put food on the table.

Rent will have to come from your regular job. Look for free or low-cost babysitting training programs and use your certificate of completion to leverage better pay.

Make yourself available for after-school, second, and third shifts, and [parents will love you.

Jamie Willis
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