When my husband and I decided that I would be a stay at home mom, our biggest concern was money. I had a good job, and we were just starting to get comfortable, so the idea of going down to one income TERRIFIED us. I love taking risks, my husband does not…I convinced him that if I stayed home, I would find some way to make a little money. I took the plunge and traded my business pants from Ann Taylor for yoga pants from Target.
I was fortunate enough to find a little clerical work I could do from home, but it didn’t last long, and it was hard to find time to do and take care of my daughter. So I started researching the best ways for SAHMs to make a little cash, and babysitting seemed to be the best bet for me.
I will be honest, I never really babysat growing up. Before I had my own kids, I don’t think I changed a diaper or made a bottle. But, I was willing to try anything. I posted a profile on Care.com, and before I knew it, I was in business. Currently, I have babysat for over 8 years, and I have learned so much. If you are considering watching kiddos as a way to make some money, this list might help you to decide if this is the right choice for you and your family.
Full Time vs Part Time:
I love taking my kids places, and we prefer to stay busy. If I have to stay in my house all day, I tend to get grouchy. So when I started babysitting, I quickly realized that I can’t do it full time. I have watched many kids and have been able to piece together a great schedule that allows me to have some time with just my own children. Some kids I watch for just a few hours a day and some for just a day or two a week, this provides a lot of flexibility for me, and I don’t end up feeling like I am stuck in my home for too long. Be honest with yourself about what kind of schedule would work best for your personality and family.
When deciding if I will babysit a new child, I try to be a little picky. These kids and their parents will be in and out of my home frequently, I need to have good chemistry with them. It is so much easier to watch kids that get along with my children and are fun to be around. If the parents are punctual, good communicators and friendly – that makes all the difference. Having similar parenting styles and behavior expectations is nice. I want to work with parents that I feel I can talk to about any issues I might have with their children. Also, I usually only watch kids that are the same age as my children, this makes my job a lot easier. I already have age-appropriate toys, they can play with my kids, and I know what to expect developmentally.
If you are going to babysit out of your home, you have to set clear expectations. When you meet with a family, figure out a good schedule that works for everyone, be upfront on costs and what you will provide (meals, milk, snacks, etc). I enjoy taking the kids places, so I want to make sure their family is comfortable with me going to the museum, zoo, park. I make it very clear beforehand that I need to be able to drive their children and might need a spare car seat. I also try to be honest about any sickness we have and expect the same in return. If you are not willing to watch sick kids, you need to let them know from the beginning.
My children have been raised around so many other kids, we have benefited in many ways. Several of the kids I watch have become my children’s closest friends. My kids look forward to the days I babysit, and it ends up feeling like a playdate. I have grown to love these kids, I appreciate the opportunity to see them grow and am grateful for the chance to be a part of their lives. A few of the kids I have watched for several years are now starting school, it is bittersweet to not see them anymore. Having to play with other kids has taught my children the importance of problem-solving and sharing.
When my oldest needs braces or my family wants spending money for a vacation, I make a point to explain to my children that the money we use for these things comes from my babysitting. I want them to understand how to be resourceful and create work for yourself. I never thought I would be “the babysitter,” but this part-time gig has allowed me to stay home for all of my children and get to know some other pretty amazing kids.