Children are an inevitable part of life, especially when your siblings have got a head-start over you. When you’re called upon to chip in (and you will be), you’ll need these 20 helpful tips…
Parents, hand this guide to your siblings immediately. Siblings, if you’ve never had to take care of a kid, listen up: tired parents are a common occurrence when kids are in the picture. And when there are no helpers in sight, it falls to you, the auntie (or uncle), to take care of the kiddos while the parents grab a much-needed break. We’re not even talking short getaways to island destinations – we’re talking getting the kids to uncurl their death grip on their mum and dad’s clothes long enough for parents to actually eat and use the toilet. (Note: You’ll need to keep an eye on them long enough for your sibling to actually close the door!).
If being a babysitter for free sounds like way too much trouble and not at all what you signed up for, at least you only have to deal with it for a couple of hours. What about your poor, sad sibling who has to deal with this 24/7? That’s right, suck it up and hunker down for at least two hours of playtime. Here are tips to get you through the afternoon ordeal of fun…
How to be a good babysitter
1. Make the first move
When you rock up and spot the little one, say hi. Even if they don’t say hi back or breeze right by you and say hi to the rock beside you instead. You’re not relevant yet. Get used to it.
2. Be prepared to be invisible
At first, you’re going to be avoided like vegetables on a plate. You’re not always going to be thanked for doing something nice for the kids. Kids have a one-track mind. If they see the balloon, the candy or the toy, they don’t see you. But don’t be afraid to hold back on the treats if they continue to not notice you.
Learn on the job. The only briefing you get is when your sibling offloads the little one onto you while they rush to the toilet. Follow their instructions to the letter and never forget everything immediately – that’s not advised. And don’t trust the kiddo – they’re not allowed candy for dinner.
4. Don’t be afraid to make executive decisions
Sometimes the parents are too distracted with the First Adult Conversation they’ve had in weeks to answer your bothersome questions on whether the kid can have just one more. No more sweets means no more sweets… OK, just one more.
5. Pay attention and be impressed
When they say, “Watch me! Watch me!” they could be doing something you have been able to do for years, but it doesn’t matter. When you hear this phrase, you turn your head and be impressed. Don’t pretend, just be.
6. Be afraid… be very afraid…
Be afraid of the dinosaur when the little one roars in your face.
7. Get ready to sing along
Memorise the theme songs for all the kids’ favourite shows and be prepared to repeat or stop on command. You are now a record player.
8. Stop talking when they tell you to stop talking!
Your boring adult conversations are not as important as their need to push a toy car from one end of the room to the other while you watch. Learn this.
9. Give them your listening ear
Listen carefully to that babbling, it definitely makes sense (to them). If you’re stuck, look to their in-house translator (the parents).
10. Never mind the spit
Do not get mad when the kid blows raspberries in your face. A little spit won’t kill you.
11. Is it poo-poo time?
Ask if they need the potty, clearly and regularly. Call a parent for help if you need it (don’t delay on this).
12. Repeat the funny thing that you just did
As many times as needed.
13. Be pelted by objects
You’re a big girl (or boy), you can take it. But stop them if they give you a concussion.
14. It’s all about the shoes
Wear sensible shoes so that if the kids start to run, you can catch them.
15. Forget the chewing – swallow everything!
At family dinners, eat as fast as humanly possible. Your sister or brother will be starving and you need to take the kiddos off the parents’ hands before the food gets cold.
16. Give them your hand
When the kids ask to hold hands with you, give them your hand. Do not hesitate, just give them your hand!
17. Get ready to clean
Once you’re in the house, you’re the stand-in helper. Clean the toys, do the laundry, wash the dishes and babysit the kids. Just take orders, no questions asked.
18. Sleep and wake up
If the kiddos say it’s nighttime, you lie down and go to sleep. If they blast the recorder in your ear, you wake up. Simple as.
19. Reading is fun-damental
You can either read the activity book that has no words or read Daniel Tiger for the tenth time.
20. Good job, babysitter!
When the kids are all tuckered out and safely down for their nap, give yourself a pat on the back. You’ve done good.
Following this guide won’t just make you a good babysitter, it’ll make you the best sibling ever.