Magazine topic: 
Life around the world

Babysitting: harder than it looks

by : 
EmilyW

Most people assume that babysitting is one of the easiest jobs available for young people. Many imagine a bored teenager putting a few well-behaved children to bed at 9 o'clock and then continuing to watch television until the parents return home to hand over some money. Well, I can tell you how wrong that stereotype is.

As I only work three days a week in France, I decided that a good way to get out of the house – and earn some extra money – would be to look for a babysitting job. I looked after children a lot when I was at school, and I remembered it as being quite easy.

I now work all day on a Wednesday for a Ukrainian family with three young boys. I am there to look after them while their mother does errands and takes care of her six month old baby. However, I am also there to improve their English by teaching them songs and games in my native language.

Now, four months later, I get home at the end of the day absolutely exhausted! Babysitting is not a job for the lazy – or the weak. I expected perfect children who would behave well and listen to me all the time. Sadly, I don't think those kind of children exist at all. While my two boys are usually polite and calm, they are typical children and also like to fight, scream and throw tantrums for no real reason.

Being a babysitter requires you to take on a hundred different roles throughout the day. I have to be a friend when I play with the boys, but their teacher when I tell them to do something. When they hurt themselves, I have to be their nurse, and when they fight over silly things like sharing their crayons, I have to be a negotiator. When lunchtime rolls around I am cook, and then maid as I clean up after them. Finally, in English, if someone is very tolerant we say they have the “patience of a saint”. I think I embody this expression sometimes!

Despite the exhaustion involved in my job, I usually do enjoy it. Working with children is very rewarding, but I'm always relieved to leave them with their parents and come home to a quiet house at the end of the day!

Discussion
Have you ever babysat for younger siblings or someone else's children? Did you find it easy or difficult?