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Responsibilities of a Babysitter

A Babysitter's Housekeeping Responsibilities

When you care for someone's children in their home, you should leave the home as clean and tidy as when you entered it. You are expected to clean up after the children throughout the day.  So, you may need to scrub the kitchen floor after the two-year-old spilled her juice.  Or you may need to put all the table top decorations back in their places after the four-year-old decided to rearrange everything.

In addition, many babysitters are expected to perform some light housekeeping as well. These responsibilities can include:

  • Washing the children's clothes, towels, and bed linens 
  • Preparing the children's meals and snacks
  • Doing dishes after the children's meals and snacks are done


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Be a Positive Role Model

Part of being a babysitter is being a positive role model. Below are some things that a babysitter should do.

  • Focus on the children at all times.
  • Exhibit kindness, love, empathy, and understanding.
  • Remain calm.
  • When possible, negotiate compromises with the children when there are differences of preferences on activities, etc.
  • Be encouraging.
  • Ensure that all criticism is constructive.
  • Hold children accountable, consistently, and with love.
  • Keep your promises.
  • Refrain from spending long periods of time talking on the telephone about personal matters.
  • Refrain from spending long periods of time texting about personal matters.
  • Refrain from spending long periods of time watching the television, surfing the Internet, or playing video games.
  • Dress appropriately.
  • Using good grammar.
  • Exhibit good manners (i.e., say "please" and "thank you" consistently)
  • Refrain from inviting people to the family's house unless the parents have given prior approval.  
  • Show up for work on time.

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Be on Time As a Babysitter

It is imperative that you report to work on time as a babysitter. Most parents that hire a babysitter do so because they have places that they need to be and specific times that they need to be there.  If you cause the parents to be late to their jobs or to miss their dinner reservations, they will consider you unreliable and unprofessional.  As a result, they may find a different babysitter that they consider more reliable and professional.  Then, you will be out of the job. 

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Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

One of the most important job responsibilities of a babysitter is to communicate with the parents.  There are a variety of ways to accomplish this.

End of shift reporting.  When you are done babysitting for the evening (or whatever your period is), you give a verbal report to the parents about how the babysitting went (where you went, what you did, what was eaten, how the child's appetite was, what behaviors you saw throughout the day, what school work was done, etc.).

Babysitting journals.  Throughout the babysitting session, or near the conclusion of each babysitting session, record notes of how babysitting went (see specifics in paragraph above) in a notebook, three-ring binder, etc.  This journal is then left at a place agreed upon with the parents for their subsequent review.

Telephone or e-mail reporting.  Same as above, but communicating via telephone or e-mail.

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Keeping Kids Safe

Of all the responsibilities that are tasked to a babysitter, a babysitter's primary responsibility is ensuring the safety of the children in her care.  There are a variety of ways to accomplish this objective.

Babysitters need to protect the children from the harms that may come from strangers.  Reinforce the don't-talk-to-strangers message.  Stand as physical barrier between the children and strangers who may be staring at or approaching the children.  Intervene if the children interact with a stranger.

Babysitters need to protect the children from known physical hazards.  Is there broken glass in the foyer?  If so, clean it up before little feet can get hurt.  Is there rough wood on the picnic bench?  Is there a bottle of medicine left within reach of the toddler?  Is the child-proof door handle secure on the cabinet that holds the bleach and other household cleansers?  Does the cute doggy bite?

Babysitters need to protect the children from subsequent harms (i.e., harms that result from prior-occurring harms).  Is the babysitter CPR-certified?  Does she know the Heimlich maneuver?  Has she been trained in basic first aid?

If the babysitter transports the children, are child car seats and safety belts in use?  Are defensive driving techniques employed?  Does the babysitter refrain from any distracting activity (i.e., talking on her cellular telephone) while she is driving?

By ensuring the safety of the children in her care, a babysitter fulfills her primary job responsibility, instills confidence in the children, and expresses care and concern for the children.

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Providing Stimulating Activities

As a babysitter, part of your job is to provide the children with stimulating activities. Few parents want to pay a babysitter to let their children sit in front of a television all day.  What follows is a suggestion list for stimulating activities for children.

  • Reading together.  
  • Helping the children with their homework.
  • Playing outdoor games.  Outdoor games include kick-the-can, hide-and-seek, red Rover, Simon says, etc.
  • Engaging in sports or physical competitions.  Sports include flag football, tennis, golf, etc.  Physical competitions include seeing who can jump rope the longest, who can use the hula-hoop the longest, etc.
  • Playing visual games.  Visual games include the license plate game (seeing how many states' plates you can see in an outing), I-Spy, etc.
  • Going to the park, a playground, or other recreational area.  Babysitters can discuss the leaves of various shapes, the birds of various species, or other treasures of mother nature found in the recreational area.  If the recreational area has historical significance, that can be discussed as well.
  • Taking advantage of the youth activity opportunities at the local public library, art museum, historical museum, etc.  Many activities in these settings are free, and all may make a child more well-rounded in his/her development.  
  • Creating arts and crafts projects together.
  • Holding age-appropriate scientific experiments.
  • Preparing meals together.
  • Volunteering together to benefit a non-profit organization.  (Ensure that you have the parents' permission to do this.)
  • Creating and staffing a lemonade stand.  (Ensure that you have the parents' permission to do this, and assign all profits either to the parents or the children, whichever the parents prefer.)

These are but a few of the myriad opportunities for stimulating activities for children.  Be creative, know the children in your care, and find the right activities to fit the situation.  Both parents and children will likely be grateful for the time, energy, and effort you put into creating the stimulating activities.

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Time Commitments As a Babysitter

When you are offered a babysitting job, the parents should tell you what time commitment they are asking of you.  For example, do they want you to babysit three evenings per week?  Or from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday?  It is important that you know the parents' expectations before you accept the job:  if the parents expect you to work fewer or more hours than you are able to work, then it's best to know that up front.  You may be able to negotiate the schedule with the parents . . . if each of you compromises just a little, then perhaps the job may be a good fit for you after all.

Some parents are unable to commit to a specific babysitting schedule.  They may need a babysittter only when they have date nights, which may occur on a random schedule.  If this is the case, ensure that you communicate at the time of hire how much notice you will need in order to schedule a work shift and your right of refusal of a babysitting shift due to your unavailability on any particular evening. 

Sometimes, you may have an agreed-upon schedule which the parents then ask you to modify.  For example, if you are scheduled to babysit until a certain time, but the parents ask you to work later than your agreed-upon time (perhaps they are stuck in traffic and can't be home by the agreed-upon time), you must be flexible enough to stay and care for the children until the parents return home. If a parent is continuously asking you to work late with little notice, you should speak to them about this problem.

Good communication is essential in order to ensure that the time commitments of a babysitting job are understood by both the parents and the babysitter. 

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The Word On Nanny Cams

You may have thought about adding a nanny cam to your house. But is it legal and ethical to use a nanny cam?

While nanny cam laws can vary state by state, what follows is generally applicable.


If you choose to use a nanny cam, you are well advised to let your babysitter know that a nanny cam will be in use.  (Note:  it is essential that you tell your babysitter before the nanny cam is to be used.  So, tell your babysitter at the time of her hire or before the nanny cam is installed.)   You don't need to let your babysitter know where the nanny cam is, but you do need to let her know that it cannot be in certain private rooms (i.e., bathrooms, etc.).  If you have a babysitting contract, the contract should specify the terms of use of the nanny cam.


Why do you want to use a nanny cam?   To observe your children throughout the time that you are away?  Do you mistrust your babysitter?  Or some other reason?  Consider carefully why you wish to use a nanny cam. 

After you have considered the legal and ethical issues surrounding the use of nanny cams, you may decide that using a nanny cam is right for you and your circumstance.

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Your Babysitter’s Role And Your Changing Family

Several years ago, you hired the perfect babysitter and have been happy with the care she's provided your child. However, with your changing family, your babysitter's role changes also.  A few examples follow.

  • The babysitter that so lovingly has taken care of your infant isn’t as ideal for the needs of your now active toddler.
  • Full-time babysitter care is no longer necessary as your child begins attending school.
  • You have an additional child, and your babysitter is better suited to caring for older children, which is why you originally hired her to care for your older child.  
  • You have additional children (twins), and your babysitter is not able to handle the stress of caring for three children, two of which are newborn twins.
  • Your child develops a health concern that results in the need to have a medically-trained babysitter (i.e., a CNA who can "pass meds").
  • You remarry and your babysitting needs change because of increased parental presence in the home or because of a greater number of children in the home.
  • Regardless of how your family changes, you must always ensure that your family's needs are being met.  If your babysitter is no longer able to meet your family's needs, then you need to assess the best way to respond. 
  • Would your full-time babysitter be willing to transition to part-time work (or vice versa)? 
  • Is it best if you help your babysitter find a different family to caregive for so that she can work full-time hours in total, but part-time with your family and part-time with the other family?  
  • Would your babysitter be willing to develop the addtional credentials that you now need (i.e., CNA who can "pass meds")?  
  • Should you lay off your existing babysitter, write her a glowing letter of recommendation (if it's honest), and hire a replacement babysitter that is a better fit for your family's current circumstance?

By thinking through your family's changing needs and how best to respond to those needs, you can create a solid plan and move forward in the most efficient manner possible.  Ensure that you keep your babysitter in the loop as your family changes:  your babysitter may be essential in helping you craft a solution.

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