Tag Archives: babysitting

What to Expect When…

21 Apr

Any parent will tell you that there is no way to prepare for the changes a child will make in your life. Being that I am not yet a parent, I cannot disagree but I do want to make a counter argument. There is a way, beyond reading “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” to help prepare. Babysit.

The kids I currently babysit for.

The kids I currently babysit for.

I have been babysitting since I was in high school. At first for my sister who is a year and half younger. Then for my baby cousins who are all currently under the age of 10 and eventually for friends of the family and neighbors. I would say that I’ve been babysitting since I was 15 or 16 so for about 5-6 years. There are some very important things I have learned over those years that I know I would not be ready for if I hadn’t babysat:

1. Be Creative

No matter what age a child is, the same trick usually won’t work twice. For the infants I have watched, you need to really think hard and get to know the baby before you can get them to stop crying. The same backrub, toy, or tickle spot usually doesn’t last longer than one or two times in a row.

For the older children, you better be sneaky when it comes to making them wake up in the morning or getting them to eat food. Promises work, but if you can’t follow through then you’re screwed. Find out their likes and dislikes because knowing exactly what to say or how to say it makes a world of difference.

2. Be Patient

Why do you need to be creative? Because caring for a child is frustrating. When you can’t get them to stop crying or do what you tell them to do, you can’t give up and walk away. Children have some of the strongest willpower I have ever seen and if you think they will stop screaming because you walked out of the room, wrong. They will stop screaming… when they fall asleep.

3. Be Flexible

Not everything about watching a child is bad. It can actually be quite amazing to see a child learn or to hear the innocence and naivety in their voices. One minute they can go from crying their eyes out to needing nothing more than a hug and a soft voice. One thing that we grow very good at as we get older is holding grudges. In my experience, children are much better at, not perfect, but better at saying sorry and moving on than adults are.

4. Pay Attention

Children are tiny and they are quick. You can set a baby down who knows how to crawl and the next minute look up to see them pulling themselves up by the coffee table, and being wobbly enough to fall into it. Infants, toddlers, children… are all smaller than you and WILL fit into places you no longer fit into. Their fingers can get stuck in things that your fingers couldn’t imagine and if you aren’t looking, they can get hurt.

Did you know that babies are born with about 300 bones that eventually fuse together to become about 206 when they are older? Imagine how breakable those tiny bones are. It’s one thing when the child you’re caring for won’t stop crying, it’s another when you are responsible for their cries. Understand that accidents will happen and be prepared to reach out to others when they do. You cannot afford to be embarrassed when a child is injured. They come before you.

5. Love, Unconditionally

I have had the privilege of knowing some amazing children in my life. Even when they meet me at a young age, they remember me. I can go months without seeing my cousins or friends of the family and still have children running at me when I walk into their home or talking to me when I’m on the phone.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve noticed that people you no longer see in school every day tend to not say hello when you pass on the street. Or a friend from high school you used to eat with every day won’t raise their eyes when you see each other at the mall. Adults think too much about what to say and whether or not it is appropriate. Children don’t care and they will generally always be happy to see you. They love freely no matter the distance or time.

I wish that every one who becomes a parent would have the ability to babysit at some point before their children are born. Most people don’t but I’ve learned more about how to love and care for a child by actually doing it than any book could teach me.

I’ve also seen many different family dynamics and watched the effect each one has on the child’s upbringing. By seeing different tactics and watching the response, I have a pretty good idea of what I want to do when it comes to raising my own children.

Best part? Besides the sleepovers that only happen once every so often, at night, I go home to my own bed! Because of that, I better appreciate my nights of uninterrupted sleep now because I have a feeling that once I have children I am going to dearly miss those nights.