University of Illinois Extension
a guide to the business of babysitting
 

Good Business Practices

Business Arrangements

You have a job to do and someone is paying you for your time. This is not a time to invite a friend in or have a lengthy phone call. If you do need to call someone, limit your conversation to a few minutes. It is important to keep the line open for parents to call home, or for someone else who has an important message. You should never have visitors unless special arrangements have been made with the parents.

Leave the house in good order. If dishes have been used, wash and rinse them. Help the children pick up toys and games with which they've played.

Messages for the parents should be correctly taken. Parents should also receive a brief report about the children's behavior and any unusual happenings.

To prevent a misunderstanding, both the sitter and the parents need to make some business arrangements prior to babysitting for the first time. Some of the questions to discuss include:

What Would You Do?Financial Arrangements

What is a fair rate of pay? Check with others who babysit in your community. Talk with your parents.

Do you charge by the hour or the job?

Do you charge the same for every family and every job?

How do you state your charges and collect your money? The time to discuss the fee is when you accept the sitting date. After discussing the job, just say "My charge is _____ an hour." Your working time begins when you arrive and ends when the parents return home. Make a note of the time, figure the total hours and be prepared to give the amount. Most parents will ask "How much do we owe you?" Be prepared to say: "That is 3 hours at ____ an hour, so it is ______."

General Expectations

What is the expected time period that you will be babysitting? How many hours? Will it be a regular schedule — daily, weekly, or another time arrangement? How late can you stay? Will you babysit during the week or weekends only?

Will you be required to do any special tasks such as washing dishes or light cleaning?

How will you get to their home and back again? You should not have to walk home alone at night even for a short distance. You may not be comfortable riding alone with a particular adult and/or riding in a car that is being driven by an intoxicated parent. The best solution may be to have your own parents drop you off and pick you up again. Tell your parents immediately if a parent acts inappropriately with you. And do not babysit there again.

If you find that you are expected to do an unreasonable amount of work that was not mentioned in your arrangements, you may need to cross this family off your list.