Babysitting on Break Can Keep Your Holiday Spirit Up
"It's a really easy job, and it's a lot of fun," says the 19-year-old Cornell University student. She says that although the responsibility that comes with babysitting can be stressful, it's can be a great job for students, especially when school is out."I don't want to really be working during my break," says Ufberg. "I want to be relaxing." And compared to other temporary jobs available during the holidays, reading to a 4-year-old or playing Wii with a fifth-grader can seem calm.
Babysitting is no cakewalk, but it may not be as harrowing as the other jobs out there now. Wrapping presents at the mall or manning the checkout line at a department store can mean long hours on your feet, a mob of cranky customers and a lunch break just long enough to grab a cup of coffee -- all dampers to holiday spirit.
And there's strong demand for sitters during the holiday season.
Shopping for presents, arranging family get-togethers and attending holiday parties are just a few reasons parents may need help.
"We actually see postings for sitters to come while moms are preparing Thanksgiving dinner," says Melissa Marchwick, chief brand officer of SitterCity.com. This season, Marchwick expects 50,000 job posts from parents in need and says New Year's Eve is the No. 1 night for sitters.
Melissa Hovey, a mother of two girls and frequent SitterCity.com user, agrees that the winter holiday season is a great time to use college sitters.
When elementary schools are on winter break, "so are [colleges] and universities" says Hovey, which makes it easier for her to find a student to care for her kids.
To meet the demand of childcare during school vacations, Ronda Reid, co-founder of CollegeSitter.com, plans to expand her five-year-old business. The site helps families living in 23 college towns find babysitters, but Reid wants to make it nationwide
"That would help college students trying to get a job over winter break," she says. Her expanded site will let sitters "list availabilities for two different locations." This setup will let students announce when they are free to work in their college's area and their hometowns.
So how can a college student get a one-time sitting job or turn occasional babysitting into steady work?
Set Up an Online Profile
This can often be done at no charge on several babysitting websites, such as Care.com, SitterCity.com,CollegeSitter.com and CollegeSitterConnection.com. Sitters can list their availabilities, preferred age group, rates and relevant work experience, such as being a camp counselor. "Sitters who provide references or more information on their profile might have an edge," says Reid.
Take a Safety Class
If you haven't already taken a course on how to save a choking child or treat a first-degree burn, now is the time to enroll. "[Get] the first aid and CPR training. Any Red Cross can provide that," says Marchwick.
Get a Background Check
Some sites require them, some don't. But any time you're working with kids, having one that you can produce on demand can't hurt.
Respond With a Unique Reply
Once you identify jobs you would like to pursue, Marchwick advises against writing a generic message when communicating with parents. "Make the response to postings personal," she says. "You'll rise to the top quickly."
Make Your Time With the Children Fun
After you've secured a job, plan activities for the kids that aren't limited to hours in front of a TV or computer. Choose "things that are active," says Marchwick. "Things that are educational, parents are really into."
Always be prompt and dependable. "You want someone who you don't have to worry about ... backing out at the last minute," says Reid, who has two children.
Have a Genuine Interest in Kids
"If you don't like kids, this isn't the job for you," says Ufberg.