How to make money babysitting
Working as a babysitter at uni isn't just a fun part-time job to have – it also has the potential to do great things for your career, too.
Credit: Stephen Depolo – Flickr
Whilst babysitting is a really popular part-time job for teenagers, many students forget that it can be an excellent way to make money at uni too.
When on the part-time job hunt, most students will look for work in retail or hospitality, but whilst making money as a babysitter is often overlooked, it can actually be the ideal job to supplement your student loan.
In case you need some convincing, we've put together some info on how you can make the most of a student babysitting job – how to earn more, learn more, and use the opportunity to benefit your graduate career.
The perks of being a student babysitter
First thing's first! It's worth having a think about why a babysitting job would be a good option.
There are loads of perks that come with babysitting when you're a student, but many of the pros aren't so immediately obvious.
Have you thought about the fact babysitting is…
- Generally well-paid work that can be flexible around your uni schedule
- Great experience for your CV that shows you're a responsible, reliable worker who can be trusted
- An excellent opportunity if you’re looking to work with children in the future
- Encourages you to be a more punctual and organised person yourself (you can't be late picking up kids from school, you’ll lose the job)
- Allows you to potentially make good contacts with working people (their parents) who can vouch for your character – and so be a good reference when you start your graduate job hunt!
How to get started
Credit: Constant Progression – FlickrGetting your first babysitting gig can be tough if you’ve moved to a new city for uni.
Some families do prefer to go with people they vaguely know or who has been recommended to them, which can make getting that first foot through the babysitting door a bit more difficult.
However, it’s definitely not impossible! Here are a few ways to get the ball rolling:
- Create an online profile or blog that tells your story, saying why you love working with kids, mentioning if you have younger siblings or experience and include a couple of references if possible. Also attach a CV somewhere on the page.
- Make business cards and give them out – at schools, parks, playgroups (with link to your online profile somewhere)
- Start with people you know – it's a lot easier to get babysitting work with those who already know and trust you, so it's worth first asking around with friends and fam. You can then ask them for a glowing reference to get the ball rolling!
- Join online groups – Add babysitting to your LinkedIn profile and this will make you easier to find. Also try joining babysitting/child minding groups for your area on LinkedIn and Facebook
- Getting a DBS check can make finding a job much easier in a new city, but it can take a while to process
- Join an agency – It can be difficult to get accepted by an agency if you have no previous babysitting experience. However, a US agency called StudentNannies has recently launched in the UK, and they focus on hooking up families with uni students. Part of the deal is that parents also offer career mentoring and play a part in helping babysitters become more primed for the working world.
It's also worth checking out Care.com, who list a ton of babysitting jobs across the UK. Parents who are after an experienced sitter will usually specify in their ad, so if you're a newbie, it should be relatively easy to decide which jobs are worth going for.
Tips to earn more money babysitting
Whilst babysitting will generally pay pretty well, there are always ways you can up your game in order to make that bit more cash in your pursuits.
Payment can be a bit of a grey area when it comes to babysitting, as it really depends on your post code (you'd charge more in London than you would do in the Midlands, for example) your experience, and also the responsibilities involved in your role.
Are you preparing meals, doing homework and cleaning the house, or just relaxing and playing with the kids until mum and dad get home? Your hourly rate should reflect what's expected of you.
The current national average is just over £8/hour, but the best option would be to do some research of your own and decide on your own hourly rate. This regional comparison tool is a good place to start.
Here are a few ways you can cash in more with babysitting:
Offer to work full weekends
Staying overnight with the kids for a whole weekend is a great way to make big bucks.
If mum and dad want to go away overnight and they trust you to stay with them through the night – jump at the chance!
Whilst you obviously won't be able to charge an hourly rate in this case, you can agree a fixed sum beforehand that will be worth your while.
Do breaks and bank holidays
Similarly, making yourself available over holidays will not only be a life-saver for them, but you can charge more on these days too.
For New Year's Eve, charge double your hourly rate, and on bank holidays, time and a half is normally acceptable.
The key to earning big bucks is to make yourself available to look after the kids at times that are particularly tough for parents.
If they know they can call you out of the blue and ask you to come look after a little one who's woken up with the flu so they can go to work, they won't forget it (and they might even tip you for being so great).
Offer to work parties and events
Letting the family know that you're able to look after more kids for events like dinner parties is also a great way to make more cash.
For example, if they're having a big gathering or party at home, you can offer to keep all the children entertained (that's guest kids too) somewhere in the house so they're not running riot.
You can even offer to come to weddings or parties at other people's houses with them too.
Note that this is also a great way to impress other families with your kick-ass babysitting skills, so remember to take those business cards with you!
Ask for travel expenses
Make sure you ask for taxi fare for your trip home if you’re working later in the evenings. Taxis can work out quite pricey, and parents should respect that this is an additional cost involved in hiring you to work in the evening.
If they don’t agree to pay the fare, ask for a slightly higher hourly rate for night shifts as a compromise.
Tutor as an extra
One of the biggest perks of being a student babysitter is that your university education makes you primed for tutoring too.
If you're particularly strong in a certain subject that's of use to them, you could offer to do an additional couple of hours tutoring each week too – but you should always charge more for this.
Babysitter dos and don'ts
Finally, before you start your money-making babysitting mission, here are a few basic dos and don'ts worth being aware of.
- Engage with the kids – ask questions, take an interest and remember things they tell you.
- Clarify house rules before you start – remember that kids will be counting on you not knowing the rules so they can encourage you to bend them – this is just how kids work! Make sure you know the ins and outs of what is and isn't allowed before you're left in charge.
- Plan activities – sitting in front of the tv with them isn’t exactly interesting, and if they're bored – they will let their parents know one way or another. Try to think of fun stuff you can do with them so that they look forward to spending time with you (this will look great!). Board games, art, going to the park with friends – this stuff all counts for brownie points.
- Give parents a tidy house to come home to – while you’re in charge, you’re also responsible for keeping the house in check. You can't underestimate how important it is for parents to come home to a house that’s calm, clean and tidy when they've had a tough day.
- Report back – keep parents in the know with stuff you get up to with the kids when they get home from work. Parents will love to get an insight into how you engage with them, and telling them small details of funny things that happened or that the kids have said shows you’re paying attention and not leaving them in front of the TV the whole time.
- Sit on your phone – sadly, most children are used to having to fighting phones for human attention, and if they feel like you’re preoccupied, they may take the hump or act out. You’re being paid to hang out with them, so put the phone away and do your job!
- Cancel last minute – you can’t even imagine how much of a nightmare it can be for a parent if the babysitter cancels last minute. If you plan on keeping the job, always try to give as much notice as possible if you're not going to be able to make it.
- Do anything you're not comfortable with – if you don't feel confident with the kids having friends over, driving them somewhere or being responsible for them in a busy theme park, just say no. You need to be comfortable and confident so that the kids are as safe as they can be.
Are you a student babysitter and got some money-making tips to share? Tell us in the comments below.