Baby-sitting is a great way to earn money, help neighbors, and gain some job experience. But it's also a big responsibility to be in charge of someone else's children in an unfamiliar home, and it can be a bit scary.
Here are some guidelines to help you be a first-rate baby-sitter:
- Know your employer. Baby sit only for people you or your parents know, or for whom you have a personal reference. Answering newspaper ads may not be safe.
- When someone asks you to baby sit, find out what time the parents expect to be back and tell them how much you charge and whether you have a curfew. Discuss how you will get there and back safely.
- Leave the name, address, and phone number of where you will be sitting with your parents or a trusted friend. Tell them what time your employer expects to be home.
- Consider taking a short nap before going to work so you will be alert and wide awake on the job.
- Be sure you know the locations of all phones in the home in case you need one quickly. If there is an emergency alarm system, learn how to use it.
- Know how to work the window and door locks in the house. Use them! Make sure the outside light is on.
- Ask about smoke alarms and fire extinguishers. If you are in an apartment, find out where the emergency exits are.
- Ask about the children's bedtimes, favorite toys and stories, and what they eat. Check on food allergies and medication. Find out what you are allowed to eat and drink.
- Be sure to clean up after the children and after yourself. Wash all dishes, cups, and utensils that you use, and put all toys back in the proper receptacles.
- Get permission and instructions on using the video cassette recorder, stereo, and other appliances.
- Do not tie up the phone talking to your friends. Your employers may want to check in or call about a change in plans.
- A friend should not come over to keep you company unless your employer agrees in advance that it is okay.
- If you suspect a fire, get the children and yourself out. Go to a neighbor's or public phone and call the fire department. Then call your employer.
- Stay calm. Children probably won't panic if you don't.
- If you have children out in the back yard, make sure the front door is locked.
- If you take children for a walk or to the park, lock all doors and windows before you leave.
- Never take the children to a deserted park or out alone after dark. Be wary of friendly strangers. If you feel uncomfortable in a situation, trust your instincts take the children and leave.
- If anything seems unusual when you return to the home like a broken window, a screen ripped, or a door a jar - don't go in. Go to a neighbor's home or public phone and call the police. You don't need a coin to dial 9-1-1 or the operator.