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Messy diapers and sticky fingers all over your homework.  The teary 2-year-old who wants her sandwich cut into triangles—not squares!—and the ants-in-the-pants pre-schooler bopping out of bed (for the fourth time) when you’ve finally settled in. Don’t be fooled, babysitting is hard work.


While you may feel more like a traffic cop (“Sit there. Eat this. Don’t do that!”), good sitters should be a lot more—friend, teacher, chef, even bodyguard. Do you have what it takes to be successful?


For starters, you must enjoy being around kids. That doesn’t mean you have to adore sitting with little Tommy in front of sing-alongs, but parents hire sitters who like being with children. “It’s important to me that Jessica likes playing with my daughters,” says one parent, Mrs. Garrity. “My girls look forward to the time they spend with Jessica.  So I can look forward to enjoying my time out.”


OK, you say. You have the attitude.You’re ready to play cat’s cradle, or catch, make snacks for the “hungries,” and read The Little Engine that Could 33 times. But truth is, truly great babysitters aren’t just good with kids, they’re good for kids.  Babysitters are responsible for the happiness and health of their charges.


Finally, babysitters must be able to get along with their employers—the parents. Mrs. Jones may like her kids tucked in by 8 p.m., while Mr. Smith figures somewhere between 8:30 and 9:30 is cool (“whenever you can get the rascals down”).  Ms. White says the kids can have anything their little hearts desire for dinner, while Mr. Williams insists on tofu and veggies. All parents have different house rules. The babysitting biz requires you to be flexible.

POSTED ON 12/9/2009 12:00:00 AM

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