A babysitter plays with a child and a dog

Pros and Cons of Being a Babysitter

Being a babysitter may seem like the kind of thing you do in high school for extra cash, but it can actually be a pretty good gig. Not everyone is destined for spending their days with children, however, or for the unsteady pay these jobs can bring. Here’s a look at the pros and cons of being a babysitter.

Pro: You get the fun part of kids—and then they go home.

For many children, having a baby sitter is a novelty. It’s different from working in a daycare or as a nanny; rather than being present every day for a set course of hours, you spend a few hours with different children on and off. In many cases, parents use this as a treat. This means you get to play with them, maybe put them to bed, but you aren’t required to watch them on a continuous basis.

Con: Bad kids are frustrating. Bad parents are even worse.

Some kids can be impossible to deal with, especially if you aren’t prepared for any physical handicaps or learning disabilities that they have. You may also have to deal with kids who are just downright mean or uncontrollable. Even more difficult to handle than impossible children, however, is having to watch kids that act a certain way because of their home life. Unfortunately, it isn’t your place to tell parents how to raise their children. You can choose not to babysit those kids anymore, but you can’t make judgements.

Pro: You can virtually make your own hours.

Okay, so this isn’t exactly true, you have to take the hours when parents need you to watch their little ones. But you do have the freedom to refuse. You can even set standard times (i.e. I only watch kids between 4pm and 10pm, Monday through Thursday). Babysitting can be a really great second job if you’re looking to make a little extra cash, or if you’re going to school but still trying to make money.

Con: Unless you have a lot of clients, it’s hard to make a living.

Yes, babysitting can be a good second job, but it’s not something you should expect to take care of a family of four on. It doesn’t come with insurance, holiday pay, or a pension. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median pay for all childcare workers is about $20,000 a year. Eventually, you can build up a pretty good client base, especially once you have parents telling other parents about what a great job you’re doing, but don’t expect a huge payday starting out. It can, however, be a great way to get experience for a more permanent position.

Pro: The requirements are negligible.

Generally, the requirements for being a babysitter are “plays well with others.” If you’re looking to get more serious in your babysitting career, you can become certified in a few different things. The Red Cross, for example, provides Basic Life Support certification for babysitting. You can also learn CPR, take a few dietary classes, and give yourself some basic training in childcare (again, great for future childcare positions!).

Con: It’s sad to say goodbye to little ones you’ve watched for a long time.

Kids grow up—it’s their job. It can be hard to spend years with a kid each week, only to have them grow up and forget about you. You can always stay in touch with families though, and there will always be other little ones to watch. One of the harder things, however, is when sometimes tragic things happen, and children can be taken too soon. This is an excellent reason to be extra careful when you’re watching kids, so that you make sure to avoid any such incidents happening under your watch.

Last Updated: January 11, 2017