What questions should a babysitter ask before the parents leave?
There are so many things to learn when it comes to babysitting that it can be overwhelming. Especially when it comes to learning specifics about the families that you babysit for—no worries, though. I’ve come up with a list of the most important questions to ask before the parents head out for the night.
- Do you have a first aid kit? Where is it?
Before you babysit, you’ll want to make sure you know how to use the items in a first aid kit. As always, I highly recommend taking a first aid training course.
Personally, I have a miniature first aid kit that I carry in my babysitting bag, as well as a full first aid kit in my car. However, I always make sure to ask where the family first aid kit is so that I can quickly find it in case of an emergency. More often than not, you’ll just need an ice pack or a band-aid for random boo-boos, but you can never be too prepared.
- Do the kids need to take any medication before bed? How is it administered?
It’s important that you are at least aware of any medication the kids take. That way, you are aware that they need it and there is no cause for concern if you find (older) children taking medication. It prevents a lot of stress on your part, making it way easier to have fun while you sit.
- Do the children have any allergies?
People can be allergic to all kinds of crazy things, so you should definitely ask about any allergies the kids have. Some kids are allergic to bees and other insect, others are allergic to certain fruits, and others still have various allergies to other things.
- Is there any homework that the kids need to finish?
Kids seem to be so busy all the time, whether it’s with homework, sports, or practicing an instrument. Many elementary school aged kids are required to do a certain amount of reading/math/spelling each night, and those who are in band are also required to practice their instrument. Structure/scheduling can be very important to certain children, so it’s good to be aware of what their schedule on a “normal” night would look like.
- What types of snacks (if any) are the kids allowed to have before bed?
There is always one kid in the bunch who will swear up and down that they’re allowed to eat ice cream at 8:30 pm. Whether they’re actually allowed to or not is the question. So go ahead. Ask their parents what their children are allowed to eat. It is way better to be ahead of the game when it comes to this type of sneaky kid.
- What types of games do the kids like to play
If you want to score major cool babysitter points, you’ll already be planning to hang out and play with the kids. If you really want to score those points, you’ll already know what the kids like to play so you can just casually suggest it to them. They’ll be excited that you like the games they like, and you’ll get to have an awesome time. It’s a win-win.
- What are your rules about screen time?
Since children are constantly gaining access to more and more technology, it is so important to be aware of what the family rules regarding screen time are. Often time, kids are allowed 30-60 minutes of screen time day, and usually only after their responsibilities are taken care of. Again, there is almost always one kid who will try to convince you that they’re allowed to use their screens for as long as they want. It is much easier to approach this situation when you know what the rules are.
- What is your bedtime routine like?
Many families, particularly those with younger kids, have specific bedtime routines that they do each night. While daytime schedules are important, they do not even compare to the importance of bedtime routines—especially when the parents are away. A lot of children get nervous and upset at bedtime, but knowing what their normal routine is like can totally change the way that bedtime goes for the better. Always reassure the child that their parents will be home when they wake up, and of course, stick to the routine.
- Is it okay if I take photos with/of your child?
As a sitter, it is important to respect the privacy of the families that you babysit for. If you think you would like to post photos on social media (Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook,, Twitter, etc.) then you should ensure that the parents are comfortable with that. If they are not comfortable with it, you absolutely must respect that. Remember, as a babysitter, you shouldn’t really be on your phone in the first place, as you’re supposed to be hanging out with the kids. You would want to be the couch potato, would you?
- Is it alright for me to work on homework after the kids fall asleep?
Most of the time, parents are totally okay with their sitter working on other things after the children go to sleep. If I’m given permission to do so, I normally follow up by asking for permission to use the wifi, and the wifi password. Again, some families may not be totally comfortable with you doing this, and it is important that you respect their choices.
Are there any questions you think I’m missing? Tweet at @sitterme using the #SitterTipTuesday and let me know!