How to Survive a Night of Babysitting

October 27, 2011
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Most people have survived myriad daunting nights of babysitting, but the task of supervising children can still be extremely demanding for both amateurs and those with experience. The situation is only worsened if one has to supervise multiple children, because if this is the case they can team up against their overseer. In the worst case scenario – if the youngsters mutiny – it may be necessary to call in for reinforcements. However, there are many step- by- step guides for helping babysitters make it through, and if followed carefully everything will go as planned.

The task of babysitting begins long before one has to actually begin tending to children. The babysitter- to- be must prepare for the daunting task they face, and compile a bag of survival equipment. Age- appropriate distractions for the tots are a must. Games and activities that do not involve too many fragile or small parts are advised, for example coloring books, simple cooking projects, board games and movies. Videogames almost always work as well. Once he or she has collected enough items to keep a few kids occupied for the sufficient amount of time, taking into account the average length of a young child’s attention span – about three seconds before boredom strikes – the babysitter should also bring a few items to keep him or herself occupied. This is especially true if he or she will be putting the children to bed, as there will be a lot of free time and exploring the belongings of a family one barely knows is not the best way to get repeat clients. Once these two survival kits have been compiled, the babysitter is ready!

When babysitting at the home of the children, one should always arrive on time and act mature and professional so as to instill confidence that he or she will not let the children burn down the house or cause other damage. He or she should look the children’s parents in the eyes and act in an adult yet fun- loving way in order to appeal to both the parents and the children. If there is a bawling fit, which usually ensues after parents leave their children alone with a stranger, the babysitter should be calm and collected and should aim to distract the children as quickly as possible by saying something like, “Hey guys, have you seen the new Power Rangers movie? I heard it was awesome so I rented it for us to watch!” Material items and the attraction to the newest releases that the children’s parents have not yet bought will consistently win trust for a babysitter. A general rule is that the more one is being paid for a babysitting job, the wealthier the parents are, or the brattier their children are (or both). If a babysitter is getting $30 an hour to supervise one child, chances are that a gift such as a stuffed toy will win his confidence and faith immediately, and the price of a teddy bear will not cut into the profit too much.

Once the children have calmed down and are well into their first activity, the babysitter should take a few deep breaths – the worst part is over. However, he or she should not get too comfortable with the situation because at any time the children can decide that they are bored and either revolt or beg for the next pastime. A babysitter should always be prepared for this and should have at least two choices from his or her survival kit ready for action at all times. This cycle of complete engrossment to complete disgust and boredom with a given activity will ensue for as long as the children remain awake. Typically any one activity will not last them more than 30 minutes so a babysitter should plan the size of his or her survival kit based on the duration of the job. He or she should also be prepared to do any of the most embarrassing assignments possible, from playing the princess in dress up to belting out “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” on the gaming system the kids own, and should not be offended if his or her survival kit does not appeal to the children. Once a babysitter has survived the vicious engrossment- boredom cycle the appropriate number of times and it is time for bed, he or she should assert authority but still find ways to keep the children entertained while they clean themselves up and brush their teeth.

Once the children are safely in bed and sufficiently calmed down by a story or two, the babysitter should exit the bedroom and clean up the enormous mess that was most likely created. Then, he or she should find somewhere to read or otherwise use his or her portion of the survival kit in a quiet manner. When the parents come home, the babysitter should give a quick summary of what he or she did with the children, showing off any new additions to the family art gallery, receive his or her earnings, and then leave before overstaying his or her welcome. Once out the door, the babysitter can breathe a sigh of relief – he or she has just survived one of the most challenging and dangerous situations known to man.

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