With school out, many teens find themselves employed by family and friends, playing Nanny or Manny to the youngsters in the hood while Moms and Dads are at work. On the one hand, it’s a pretty sweet gig, on the other, it can prove to be a challenge, because let’s face it, Mary Poppins, you ain’t. Where she had a magic satchel full of stuff to delight her young charges, you have a backpack full of last semester’s grafitti covered loose leaf paper.
You’ve made it through the first week alright, but you know the truth. Once the honeymoon stage is over between you and these kids, the potential for a long, hot summer for everyone involved goes up in a huge way.
But, Babysitters take heart. You can keep things cool by keeping the following tips in mind while on the job this summer.
• SAFETY FIRST – This goes for Personal Safety, Child Safety, Household, Toy and Outdoor Safety. There is no such thing as being too safe. Get CPR/First Aide certified. Go over all safety concerns with your parents and with the parents of the children you sit. Have your emergency telephone numbers handy, and always keep in mind potential hazards such as, choking hazards (toys or food), and bodies of water (swimming pools, bathtubs, toilets). Even some plants can be dangerous to kids.
• NEVER LEAVE A CHILD ALONE – Younger children and especially babies need 100% of your attention, 100% of your time. With infants, keep one hand on them at all times when on a changing table, and never leave them alone when in high chairs, walkers, or on a piece of furniture.
• ENGAGE – Think about it, you are being paid to play – with the kids in your charge that is. Put down the cell phone, video games, and any other thing that will distract you from being fully engaged. Set the limits outlined by the children’s folks, and notice when they get it right. Use humor, and encouragement to get your point across, and role model the behaviors you want to see copied.
• ENCOURAGE – Okay, so in the real world, kids act up and misbehave. With younger children, try diverting their attention to another activity. With older children helping them problem solve a solution is sometimes helpful. With all ages, kick it back a notch, by providing a calmer, quieter atmosphere conducive to regrouping and moving on.
• ENTERTAIN – Go over with the folks what is age appropriate and acceptable for the little ones in your charge. Are field trips an option? If so, plan a movie day, a morning at the park, or a visit to the library. If the parents prefer you stay put, with a little imagination, you can simulate ‘field trips’ right in your own back yard. Finally, clean out your backpack, and restock it with fun stuff. And, right next to the bubbles, and read aloud books, have something ready for Music Time, Game Time, and Arts and Crafts Time. Don’t be surprised to find you will have as much fun this summer as the kids themselves!
Have some babysitting tips and tricks that work for you? Share it here on TownSquareBuzz.com