Babysitting includes a lot of responsibility, especially with hyperactive kids. Some ideas that can help manage its different related aspects are as under:
Making Cooking Fun
It's best to arrive early before the parents leave, so that you get the proper details about the baby and the households. Depending on the time you are required to babysit, you may be called upon to do a number of jobs for the child or children. If you happen to be taking care of them during mealtimes, or if anyone feels hungry while you are in control, it would not be a bad idea to cook up something for them. If these are school-going children, you could make this a play activity; use their help in kitchen, and take their feedback on what they enjoy at the snacking time.
However, make sure that you do not allow them to handle hot pans or liquids, and that they are dressed in proper clothes. It is better to not have them in loose fitting or easily inflammable clothes. Always make sure that the handles of the pans are turned inwards on the burner, so that there is no danger of anything being knocked over. Knives, choppers, and other such materials should not be used as far as possible during cooking with children. An elder person, or an adult should operate the microwave, as well as the gas burners. Cords of appliances should also be tucked away, preferably out of sight and reach.
Feeding the Right Way
Once the cooking is in place, feeding is the next activity you have to be careful about. Kids need to be fed, even school-going ones. For toddlers, cut the food into bite-sized pieces and put them in a plate, with a spoon handy. However, some children like to try eating with their hands, so let them. Remember, you are not required to make a gourmet meal, so no creamy, messy stuff. Keep the food dry and healthy to avoid unnecessary messes. Don't let very young children eat small things by themselves; things like candy pops, popcorn, or even grapes can cause them to choke and panic. This could really mean trouble. So, be careful. When feeding an infant, be prepared for messy throw-ups; almost one in five children eat largely by throwing up half their food. Use a bib, keep a large mound of napkins handy, and then, have fun. Feeding babies can be a sweet experience for the babysitters.
However, it is a good idea to have a visit with the family, to see the way the child is used to being fed. After that, be prepared before you fix up the child for feeding. Keep the required equipment, cups, bibs, plates, napkins, and everything else ready before you start.
In case a bottle is needed for juice, etc., make sure that you take proper instructions on bottle preparation from the parents before you start. Also, be clear on the quantity of formula the baby is supposed to be given. There should be no change in the feeding routine. Make sure that you ask about the temperature of the bottle or formula beforehand. Do not panic, and stay calm. It's indeed not rocket science; the baby can sense your panic. If you are relaxed and enjoying feeding the baby, she will enjoy eating, too.
If you have no prior experience in feeding babies, it will be wise to attend a feeding session with the child to learn how exactly the baby has to be held and treated. Some kids enjoy listening to good music while being fed; some need to be cuddled. What is imperative is that the baby has to be held up on the shoulder and burped after the feed, or be ready for more gas and vomiting, even irritating colic.
For slightly older preschoolers, solid foods are good, but some may like it mashed. In any case, cut it into bite-sized pieces. But, at all ages, be ready for a mess at feeding times.
Of course, as a babysitter, you will require to help the children with toilet needs in absence of the parents. In case of toddlers, you should be able to change the diapers and clean up. For small preschoolers, this may be toilet training time. So ask, when they want to go, and then take them to the pot. They may need your help; provide it. As for any other cleaning, there should be no need to bathe the child or children unless you are specifically instructed to. If you are, ask about bath time rituals the child is used to. What temperature water, favorite toys, and favorite post-bath snack he/she prefers... everything.
While playing with kids, take care about the toys being used. Their size, their material, and also, the game should be child friendly. Stuffed animals are on their way out of a child's closet in most families because of the various hazards of having fake fur, nylon, and polyester allergies, and even loose eye-buttons. So, try to follow the family tradition in toys. Similarly, toys with sharp edges and electronic toys should also be avoided. Battery-operated toys can be used, provided that the child is under supervision. This list should also include toys with cords or long strings.
Playing outdoors should also be a supervised activity. Make sure that the children keep a safe distance from rapidly moving swings, and at all times, ensure that the child is of the correct age for that particular activity or swing. In case it is a toddler, be careful of which swings he or she can enjoy.
A good babysitter can plan good games in the outdoors on the lines of a planned picnic, too. Pretend games for school-going children, physical activity games, and even pointing the great outdoors, all ensure a useful time sending exercise, even while outdoors.
It is essential that the babysitter learn in advance about the child's sleeptime essentials, the favorite activity for calming, favorite toy, and even the favorite book or story. The child will feel relaxed with familiar activities, especially if she is not the one who feels asleep with exhaustion.
To make a young child sleep, use the routine things with the assurance that when he/she wakes up, Mom and Dad will be home for him/her. In case of a toddler, you will be required to have a calming routine; usually, a soft song, or lullaby, or just holding on the chest and patting the bottom rhythmically can serve the purpose. It helps calm the child, relax, and make her feel secure. Sleep follows soon after.