Let’s be honest, a lot of us wanted to join the Baby-Sitters Club in middle school after obsessively binge-reading the first 17 novels in less than two weeks. Maybe it was the thought of being in charge of others (read: all-powerful), or maybe it was just because we were too young to be hired for other jobs, but there was always a certain charm to the idea of being a babysitter. Well, if you ever felt the same way, I have good news for you: babysitting isn’t just a job for middle school kids! It can be a great way for older people to make money as well, whether it’s as a full-time nanny or just a few hours a week. But how do you get yourself started in the childcare field?

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(Optional) Step 0:

Get certified. Although this isn’t always mandatory to get a babysitting job, it’s definitely a good idea to take a babysitting course before you get started. The Red Cross offers a specialized course that will teach you all about how to properly care for children of all ages, how to keep them (and yourself!) safe, and even basic first aid skills. There are a bunch of different courses offered, so take a look for one in your area and figure out what’s best for you. Having a certification like this will help keep you and your future clients much more at ease.

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Step 1:

Figure out what ages you’re comfortable babysitting. Frankly, kids can be terrifying at any age. With very young children, you may have to deal with things like diaper changes, and with older children you will need to keep them entertained while still enforcing the rules their parents have set for them. It’s important that you’re confident and comfortable, but remember that you can always change your mind based on how your babysitting experiences go.

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Step 2:

Decide how much you want to charge. This will depend a lot on your experience,your clients, and what exactly your job will entail. Do some research into how much other babysitters in your area are charging and charge within that range.

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Step 3:

Get your name out there. The only way to build up your client list is to advertise yourself. Apps like NearJobs are great for doing this. Make a profile for yourself, list babysitting as your specialty, and register your skills for local parents to see. You can also use the app to see babysitting jobs posted by others in your area so you can contact potential clients yourself.  Be on the lookout for special childcare situations as well like “a nanny for Christmas,” etc.

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Step 4:

Make a game plan. Once you have a babysitting job lined up, make sure you prepare yourself before you get there. Know what to do in emergency situations, what you’re going to do with the kids (like games, activities, or meals), and be mindful of any instructions the parents have given you.  Great babysitting games can be the biggest difference in terms of how your night goes.

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Step 5:

Get started! Have fun, get some great experience, and watch your bank account appreciate it!