I come from a family of 7 kids and I was the 2nd oldest so I often had to babysit my younger siblings. These pictures of our family trip to Montana are where my mind goes when thinking about this. Yes, that is me with a baby on my hip. I feel like I always had a child on my hip. I liked it that way though, I have always loved children. I was never paid to babysit my siblings, it was a part of being in a family-we each contribute and help out where we can. I don’t pay my kids for babysitting either as again, we each contribute in managing home and family. My kids get a small allowance just for being a part of our family though, as we want them to learn how to manage money early.
When I got to babysit outside my home and be paid for it, I was THRILLED. My mom taught me how to be the best babysitter out there. I had a babysitting box (one of those from the church distribution center that, growing up, we called the “primary box”. Sure wish I had a picture of that to show, I’m sure it would be fun to see. By the way, they don’t sell those at the distribution any more. When we were putting my daughter’s together we wanted to get one but found out they stopped selling them). I filled the box with different things to keep the kids busy. Also, for one of the families that I was always babysitting for, we created the “Babysitting Fairy”. The Babysitting Fairy came when I had to put kids to bed. If they obeyed and were good for me while I babysat then the fairy would come after they fell asleep and leave little treats/toys for the kids to find in the morning. My mom also taught me to clean up after anything I did with the kids AND take it a step further and do a little extra clean-up if I could (do dishes, help the kids clean up their room to surprise their mom, etc).
Maybe times have changed or maybe my mom was just the BEST to teach me what she did, but I feel that Young Women today, don’t know what it means to be a great babysitter. When my kids were younger I was really lucky to have my mom or close family watch my kids MOST of the time but every so often we had to call upon a young woman to watch our kids. I had a hard time paying a girl to come sit with my kids and watch TV, pretty much doing nothing. I was willing to pay more if I found out that she actually played with my kids and went beyond just keeping them alive. That didn’t happen very often. In talking to a few of my friends about my expectations, wondering if they were too high, I found out that one of them would set out a list of her expectations and how much she was willing to pay for how far they took it. Something like this: she would pay $1 per child per hour for the basic- keeping them safe and putting them to bed. Then she would pay $2 per child per hour if they add these things to the first list- keep the TV off and play with the kids, feed them dinner, clean up after dinner, clean up anything they played with and put them to bed. I was never that bold but wish I had been.
Well, I now have a 13 year old and have taught her what I was taught. We put together this babysitting bag that she takes each time she babysits.
Putting together a babysitting bag could be a great Young Womens mutual night activity, even if it is just making the bag ( get a canvas bag and let them decorate with iron on vinyl using a cricut machine OR with fabric paint/markers etc.) Talk about ideas for things to put inside when they get home and also talk about what makes a great babysitter such as: Don’t spend the whole time watching TV, don’t talk to your friends on the phone, play with the kids, keep them safe (you could even learn basic first aid), clean up after yourself, etc. The great things about this is that if they give 3 hours of free babysitting while the parents go to the temple or a church meeting they can pass off the additional value experience for Good Works:
__6. Spend at least three hours giving service outside your family. Ask your ward or branch Relief Society president or a community leader for suggestions for service. For example, you might take care of children while parents attend the temple; collect, make, or recondition toys or games for a nursery; accept an assignment to clean the meetinghouse; or perform errands for or read to a home bound person or others in need. Record in your journal the reactions of the person you served and possible goals for future service opportunities.
There were many times when my kids were young and my husband was bishop and I needed to go with him to a meeting or when we wanted to go to the temple or even just the adult session of stake conference that it would have been so wonderful, and really would have meant a lot to me, if a Young Woman had offered to watch my kids free of charge. I don’t know why I stressed so much about getting and paying babysitters but I did, especially for things like meetings.
So go out and find a fun bag to use. We got this one at Seagull Book. I recently saw some fun ones in the dollar section of Target that were $3-$5.
Here is my daughter’s bag and what it is filled with now.
Things that we try to keep the bag filled with are:
- A game-one she thinks the kids don’t already have as it is fun to play with new things
- A book or two- again ones she thinks they may not have
- A simple craft or art project- anything from a coloring book or sidewalk chalk to making crowns or bug catchers. My daughter likes to get on pinterest and find something she thinks the kids would like to make and then collects all the things she needs, assuming they have none of it at their house.
- Something to get them moving- bubbles, music to dance to, jump rope, fun ball, parachute.
- A movie they may not have at their house- the movie is usually for the end of a long babysitting period to watch before bed or if they have done everything else in the bag and are bored. My daughter has also done a theme to her bag that goes with the movie as well. One time she took Brave and while watching the movie they made mini bow and arrows with q-tips as the arrows.
- A treat- whether it is for the “Babysitting Fairy” to give or just something to bribe them to be good:)
- A book for her to read or something to do after kids are in bed.
We go to the dollar store or the dollar section of target to find fun things to put in her bag but really with 5 kids living in our home we have lots of toys and games to rotate through. It’s always fun to play with someone else’s stuff right?
Have fun with this! It sure makes a difference for the people the young woman serves as well as for the young woman herself. Having all these things to do makes babysitting time go by faster and it sure is more fun that sitting around watching TV the whole time.
SEE THE HAPPY!