How to make money babysitting
Working as a babysitter at university isn't just a fun way to earn money – it also has the potential to do great things for your career, too.
While babysitting is a popular part-time job for teenagers, many students forget that it can be an excellent way to make money at uni too.
When looking for a job, chances are you'll focus your search on retail or hospitality. Making money as a babysitter is often overlooked, but it can actually be the ideal job to supplement your living costs.
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 boost your graduate career.
What's in this guide?
Why should you become a 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 some of the benefits aren't as obvious as others.
Here are a few good reasons to become a babysitter:
- It's generally well-paid work that is flexible enough to fit in around your uni schedule.
- Babysitting provides great experience to put on your CV, showing that you're a responsible, reliable worker who can be trusted.
- It's an excellent opportunity if you're looking to work with children in the future.
- You're likely to become a more punctual and organised person. After all, you can't be late picking up kids from school or you'll risk losing the job!
- Becoming a babysitter can potentially help you to make good contacts with working people (the children's parents, obviously) who can vouch for your character. And that means they can be a good reference to list on your CV when you start your graduate job hunt!
How to become a babysitter
Getting your first babysitting gig can be tough, especially if you've moved to a new city for uni.
Some families prefer to go with people they at least vaguely know, or who have been recommended to them. If you've only lived in the area for a few weeks, this can make it a little harder to get your foot in the babysitting door.
However, it's far from impossible! Here are the best ways to get babysitting jobs:
- Create an online profile or personal website that tells your story. Say why you love working with kids, mention if you have younger siblings or babysitting 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 etc. (with a 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 asking your friends and family first. If they have some work for you, grab it with both hands and then ask them for a glowing reference to get the ball rolling.
- Join online communities and add babysitting to your LinkedIn profile as this will make you easier to find. Also head to Facebook and join some babysitting groups for your local area.
- Get a DBS check to make finding babysitting jobs much easier, especially if you don't have much experience or many contacts. It'll help reassure parents that you can be trusted around their children, but be aware that DBS checks can take a while to process and come at a cost, too (£23).
- Join an agency. It can be difficult to get accepted by an agency if you have no previous babysitting experience, but you should have a quick Google to see if there are any in your area. It's also worth checking out Care.com, which lists 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.
How old do you have to be to babysit?
Legally, there's no minimum age requirement for someone to become a babysitter.
However, as you might expect, most parents will probably feel more comfortable the older you are, as being older usually means you're more responsible and more able to deal with any problems that may arise.
And, while you can become a babysitter at any age, the parents or guardians of the child (or children) are still responsible for their wellbeing if the babysitter is aged under 16.
Are babysitters and childminders the same thing?
In short: no, babysitting and childminding are two different jobs.
Childminding tends to take place in the childminder's own home, whereas babysitters will usually go to the child's house to look after them.
And there are legal differences too. If you want to get paid to regularly look after a child under the age of eight in any place other than their home, and for any time longer than two hours, you'll need to be registered with Ofsted.
In order to become a registered Ofsted childminder, you must have pediatric first aid training, DBS checks, insurance, safeguarding training and be able to deliver the EYFS (Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum).
This all takes a fair amount of time, which is partly why (unlike babysitting) childminding is usually considered to be a full-time job and not a side hustle.
How much should you charge for babysitting?
While babysitting will generally pay pretty well, there are always ways you can up your game in order to make that bit more cash.
Payment can be a bit of a grey area when it comes to babysitting, as it really depends on your postcode (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.
Childcare.co.uk lists the typical babysitting rate at between £7 – £10 per hour, but says that in some areas, such as London, the going rate is more like £12 per hour. As such, 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.
How to earn more money babysitting
Here are the best ways to make more money as a babysitter:
Offer to stay overnight or for the weekend
Staying overnight with the kids, or even 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 look after their children for that long, jump at the chance!
Charging an hourly rate probably isn't appropriate in this case, so agree a fixed sum beforehand that represents a fair return on your time.
Work breaks and bank holidays
Making yourself available over the holidays isn't just a life-saver for the parents – it also allows you to up your charges.
For New Year's Eve, charge double your hourly rate. And on bank holidays, time and a half is normally acceptable.
Be flexible with your availability
The key to earning the most money as a babysitter 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 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 helpful).
Offer to babysit at parties and events
For example, if they're having a big gathering or party at home, you can offer to keep all the children entertained (including the guests' kids) so they're not running riot.
You could even make yourself available to attend weddings or parties at other people's houses with them too.
Note that this will also help you impress other families with your kick-ass babysitting skills, so remember to take those business cards with you.
Ask for travel expenses
If you're working later in the evenings, make sure you ask for the taxi fare for your trip home. Taxis can be 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, compromise by asking for a slightly higher hourly rate for night shifts.
Tutor the children while babysitting
One of the biggest perks of being a student babysitter is that your university education makes you a perfect candidate to become a tutor 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 of tutoring each week. If you speak a second language, this is a prime opportunity to make some money from it – parents are always keen for their kids to learn a foreign tongue.
But whatever you're teaching them, remember that you should always charge more for this extra service.
How to be a good babysitter
Here are some tips on being a good babysitter:
- Engage with the kids – Ask questions, take an interest and remember things they tell you. Children are used to having to fight phones for human attention, and if they feel like you're preoccupied, they may get the hump or act out.
- Clarify house rules before you start – Remember that children will assume you don't know the rules and will 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 children isn't exactly interesting, and if they're bored, they'll 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 you babysitting them (this will look great!). Board games, art, going to the park with friends – this stuff all counts for brownie points.
- Give the 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 after a tough day to find a house that's calm, clean and tidy.
- Report back – When the parents get back, let them know what you've got up to with the kids – parents love to get an insight into how you've engaged with their children. Plus, telling them little details about what happened shows you're paying attention and not leaving them in front of the TV the whole time!
- Be reliable and stick to your word – You can't even imagine how big a nightmare it is for a parent if a babysitter cancels at the last minute. If you want to keep working for a particular family, always try to give as much notice as possible if you're not going to be able to make it.
- Don't do anything you're not comfortable with – If you don't feel confident with something (be it the children having friends over, driving them somewhere or being responsible for them in a busy place), just say no. You need to be comfortable and confident so that the kids are as safe as they can be.
While you're waiting for your babysitting empire to start turning a profit, check out our bumper list of ways to make money quickly.