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Advice Area
Advice from the Girls
KRISTY'S COLUMN: HOW TO TALK TO CLIENTS
We've learned that dealing with adults requires a certain amount
of decorum. Of course, I had to learn that the hard way. Follow
my tips and your clients will always call you back for more.
  • Don't chew gum while talking to the client.
  • Be polite and respectful.
  • Don't become overexcited while talking–it shows a lack of maturity.
  • Always apologize and take full responsibility if you've made a mistake.
  • Make up for any mistakes quickly and thoughtfully. Some good ways to apologize:
    • A hand-written note
    • Baked goods
    • Offering your next sitting session for free
  • Ask the client important questions to assure them of your responsibility.
    • What are their emergency numbers?
    • Where do they plan on being that night?
    • What special needs do their children have?
      (Bed Times, Food Allergies, Special Rules?)
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CLAUDIA'S CORNER: SAFETY
If you play it safe you'll never run into a major problem while sitting. Here are some things to remember so you and your sitting–charge can stay safe.
FIRST AID KITS
  • Always bring one of these on the job. Make sure that all the materials are fully stocked and functioning.
  • A proper first aid kit will include the following materials:
    • First-aid manual
    • Sterile gauze
    • Adhesive tape
    • Elastic bandage
    • Antiseptic wipes
    • Soap
    • Antibiotic cream
    • Acetaminophen and ibuprofen
    • Spare prescriptions currently used by sitting-charge
    • Tweezers
    • Safety pins
    • Scissors
    • Calamine lotion
    • Alcohol wipes
    • Flashlight and extra batteries
    • Oral Thermometer
Avoid risky behavior
  • Observe your surroundings. Do you see any potential for danger?
  • For example, are there any sharp edges where your sitting-charge could get hurt? If so, you may want to avoid playing in that area.
Keep all doors and windows locked.
If there's an alarm for the house, know how to arm and disarm the system.
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MARY ANNE'S MANUSCRIPT: EMERGENCIES
From serious injuries to possible intruders, anything can happen on the job. Here are some tips so you'll know how to handle yourself in the event of an emergency.
Emergency Numbers
  • Always know the list of immediate contacts in case of emergency.
Dialing 9-1-1
  • Remain calm.
  • Listen carefully to the operator's instructions—they are there to help you.
Opening Doors
  • Always ask who is at the door.
  • Visually confirm the person’s identity through the door’s peephole or by opening the door with a chain lock attached.
  • If there is still uncertainty, do not open the door, and call for help.
What counts as an emergency?
  • Anything that can't be handled on your own.
    • One time I was sitting for Jenny Prezzioso,
      a three-year-old, when, after taking her
      temperature, I discovered she had a fever
      of 104! I knew this was out of my league
      and phoned all the necessary emergency
      contacts, and, eventually, 9-1-1 for an ambulance.
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STACEY'S SCOOP: MONEY
Even if you love math there's still some important things to remember when it comes to handling money.
Always have a calculator
  • Dealing with money is an important calculation.
    Remember to use this tool to make certain your
    calculations are accurate.
Maintain organized records
  • Anytime you earn new money take note of the
    day, the client, and the amount.
  • Anytime you spend money note how much
    you spent, what you spent it on, and the day
    you spent it.
  • Following the two steps above will help you
    remain fully aware of where your money comes
    from and where it is going.
Take note of your best customers and worst customers
  • There's only so much time in a week. When you know the difference between well-paying clients and not-so-great clients, you'll know where your time is best spent.
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DAWN’S DISH: BEDTIME
Bedtime can be one of the most challenging times for any babysitter. That’s why I’ve come up with a few tips that will help you get even the most stubborn sitting-charges into bed and fast asleep.
Read a bedtime story.
The promise of a bedtime story can help sitting-charges get into their pajamas and into bed. You should pick a fairly long story and read it in a calm, quiet voice. Don’t pick anything too adventurous or exciting; you are trying to relax the kids and lull them to sleep.
Ask the parents about their usual bedtime routine.
Following the usual routine (and sticking firm to it!) will help sitting-charges know it is time for bed.
A little bribery never hurt!
Bedtime is often the point when your sitting-charge realizes that Mom and Dad really are out for the night and they may become scared or tearful. Reassure them that their parents are just out having a nice time and they will be back very soon. A little gentle bribery often works—help your sitting-charge imagine how proud Mom and Dad will be that they went to bed without a fuss and were so good and well behaved.
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Horror Stories
Rowdy Rascals By Claudia Kishi
I'm used to sitting for Mrs. Newton. Her son, Jamie, is such a cutie and totally well-behaved. So why am I writing about this as a horror story? You can blame Jamie's cousins. Mrs. Newton had called me in only to sit for Jamie, but she failed to mention three of Jamie's cousins would also need to be watched that evening. This was already too big of a job for just one sitter, and things would get much worse after Mrs. Newton left. Jamie's cousins purposely give sitters a hard time–apparently, it's how they have fun. As soon as I tried to get a fun activity going, the three cousins immediately broke loose to scream and jump around the whole house. Fortunately, I remained calm and began reading a story to poor, well-behaved Jamie. As I completely ignored the three cousins, they slowly became bored (mostly because I wasn't reacting) and joined in listening to the story one-by-one. Even though I found my way out of the situation, it's one I refuse to do again, unless Kristy or one of the other girls comes along.
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Hissy Fit By Mary Anne Spier
Pets are a part of baby-sitting you just learn to accept. Normally, I don't have a problem with them—most pets are total sweethearts, unless of course, that pet is Watson's cat. Boo-Boo must be the fattest cat I've ever seen. Even Watson agrees that it belongs in the Guinness Book of World Records. However, my problem with Boo-Boo wasn't his weight, but his attitude. He's a darling around people that he knows, but if you're a stranger, he will hiss and swat with claws seeking blood. As if his demeanor wasn't bad enough, my absolute nightmare was when Boo-Boo managed to run at lightning speed through Watson's yard into the eccentric neighbor's flower garden. For a cat whose belly drags against the ground, he's a fast one! Eventually, I was able to recover Boo-Boo, but that wasn't without a good scolding from the neighbor. If you need to deal with pets like Boo-Boo, I highly recommend you don't let them out anywhere they can cause extra trouble.
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