Working as a babysitter at uni 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 really 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, most students will look for work in 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.
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.
For a start, babysitting:
How to become a babysitter
Getting 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 have 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 our top ways how to become a great babysitter:
- 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 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 first asking around with friends and fam. You can then ask them for a glowing reference to get the ball rolling!
- Join online communities. Add babysitting to your LinkedIn profile as this will make you easier to find. Also try joining babysitting groups for your area on Facebook
- Getting a DBS check can make finding a job much easier in a new city, but be aware that it can take a while to process, and that enhanced checks can cost money (£26+)
- 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 Student Nannies 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, 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.
Are babysitters and childminders the same thing?
In a word, no.
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.
In fact, legally speaking, 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, so unless you want to fall foul of the law, it’s probably best to stick to looking after children in their own home (unless they’re aged eight or over, of course).
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.
Are you preparing meals, helping with homework and cleaning the house, or just relaxing and playing with the kids? Your hourly rate should reflect what’s expected of you.
Childcare.co.uk lists the typical babysitting rate at between £6 – £8 per hour, but says that in some areas, such as London, the going rate is more like £11 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.
Here are a few ways you make more money 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 look after their children for the night, 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.
Do breaks and bank holidays
Making yourself available over the holidays will not only be a life-saver for the parents, but 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.
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 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 helpful).
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 (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 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
If you’re working later in the evenings, make sure you ask for the taxi fare for your trip home. Taxis can end up being 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, compromise by asking for a slightly higher hourly rate for night shifts.
Tutor the children too
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 – but you should always charge more for this.
How to be 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. Plus, you’re being paid to hang out with them – so hang out with them.
- Clarify house rules before you start – Remember that kids 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 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 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 will love to get an insight into how you engage with their children. Plus, telling them little details about funny things that happened what the kids have said 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 the children having friends over, driving them somewhere or being responsible for them in a busy place (like a theme park), 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.