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Babysitting 2.0: we mean business!

Ready to haul in some major cash? It's time to upgrade your sitting skills, sistah.

Pack a killer babysitting kit

Our sitters' must-haves? Take a peek ...

* A few of your favorite childhood toys

* A first-aid kit with cute Band-Aids

* Stickers and craft supplies

* Homemade snacks (get parents' approval first)

* iPod plus Bluetooth speakers for dance parties

* Monster spray for bedtime (go to girlslife.com/ iti for how-to)

Sittin' for the sibs every so often is fine, but let's face it: your once-in-a-blue-moon family job is chump change compared to the dough you could be making. Wanna pad your piggy and turn your love of little ones into a big-time babysitting biz? We asked some of the country's top super sitters (aka your fellow GL girls) to spill the scoop on their secrets to success.

GET THE GIG

Your activity bag is packed, your brain is loaded with games and you've got the tantrum-taming thing down. The only thing missing is, uh, the job. But not for long. Let's get you hired!

So you're a total newbie, huh?

If the closest you've gotten to taking care of anything is feeding your fish when your parents work late, it's time to downshift your aspirations for just a little while. Volunteer to watch a sib or cousin for a few hours while Mom goes to the store.

Or, ask a neighbor or family friend with kids and see if they'd be willing to take you on the cheap (or even for free) as a mother's helper. Explain you'd like to begin babysitting, but want to start small. In this situation, a parent would stay home, but leave you to take care of the tot. You'll get experience and confidence with a safety net.

Finding new families

Ninety-one percent of the super sitters we polled watch kids outside their families. That means you've totally got this. All you need is fortitude, a professional demeanor and a big smile. A business card can help, too.

"I go to the houses of moms I know and give them a small stack of my cards," says Stephanie G., 14. "That way, they can hand them out to friends looking for a new sitter."

Cassie G., 15, makes the neighborhood rounds when her business slows down. "I always give people my information, even if they aren't looking for a new sitter at the moment. I want them to have my number handy for the future," she tells us.

Grace A., 14, even designed a detailed brochure for when she goes places loaded with potential clients (think: church events and block parties). "The parents are always impressed," she shares.

Go high-tech

Many of the sitters we surveyed use Facebook to message friends of friends with kids to let them know of their availability.

Tessa B., 16, occasionally posts status updates when she's searching for new clients.

Grace even made a website for her business using Google Sites. "I put the web address on my business card, which shows I'm professional," she says.

There are also a bunch of websites you can create a profile on, complete with your skill set and rates. The pick of the litter? Ritchell B., 14, loves Care.com.

Get more from what you've got

As you settle into your school sched, make the people you already sit for aware your availability is opening up. If they're happy with your services--and if they're asking you back, you know they are!--they'll want to hook you up with more hours.

As you pack up post-gig, enthusiastically and politely say, "Just so you know, I don't have tennis practice on Friday afternoons, so if you need someone early that night--or know someone else who does-- I'm available." Easy.

LET'S TALK MONEY

Gabbing about greenbacks can feel a little taboo. But when you get right down to it, you're not babysitting for the fun of it--you're in it for the Benjamins. When it comes to banking that bank, here's where to start.

HOW TO ... make yourself marketable

There are tons of tiny but important things you can do to make parents want to hire you over the girl down the block. Start with a babysitter training and first-aid/CPR class--62 percent of the sitters we talked to have taken them and they help you get gigs.

Then consider other skills you have to offer. Do you know how to cook (or at least boil water)? Have you worked as a junior camp counselor? Can you speak another language? Do you tutor kids in reading and math? Are you a Sunday school classroom helper? Do you play the piano?

These experiences can make you an excellent candidate, so let 'em shine on your resume--or drop a few humblebrags during your initial interview.

HOW TO ... set your rate

Tons of newbie babysitters go into their first job having no clue what kind of moolah they should be asking for, so they let the parents decide. With that strategy, you're at the mercy of your client--some will fork over the big bucks while others will be comparatively stingy.

Avoid going in blind by asking friends who babysit in your area what they charge per hour. Fifty percent of the sitters we surveyed earn between $7 and $10, with some earning more and others less. Ask upfront, and if the parents aren't comfortable with the number you provide, let them come up with something that suits their budget.

HOW TO ... ask for a raise and get it

You're worth it, superstar sitter. How to hop on the mo' money bandwagon ...

Rule #1: Don't ask too early. "Wait a while and prove you rock at the job," says Chinedu I., 16.

Rule #3: "Ask politely," Kelly A., 14, and Megan Z., 15, urge. Try this: After your next gig say, "Thanks so much, Mrs. Smith! If you have a minute, I'd like to discuss increasing my hourly rate from $8 to $9."

Rule #3: Build on experience. "When I babysit for a new family, that's when I increase my rate," says Missie M., 17.

HOW TO ... get more money for more work

More than half of our sitters score extra cash when watching more children, caring for pets, working playdates, cleaning or if parents are late.

Blythe S., 11, charges $5 more per hour for parties. Taylor T., 14, tacks on flat fees for pet care, cooking dinner or laundry. And if parents return after the arranged hour? Mikayla G., 15, adds on an additional $10.

Just one thing: Make sure you outline any surcharges with the parents upfront, so there's no confusion about payment at the end of the night.

ON THE JOB

Babysitting isn't all board games and bedtimes. Nail these must-dos to keep clients happy--and snag another job.

Set up a trial run

Sitting for a new-to-you family? You don't want to walk into their house just a few minutes before the adults dash.

"Before you sit, see if you can come hang with the kids while the parents are still home," advises Mikayla G. "This way, you can ask questions and get a feel for the rules and home life."

This is just as much for you as it is for them. "You may not like the kids, or the house could look creepy," cautions Katherine W., 14. "It'll affect your job if you're not comfortable with something, so definitely make time for it."

Ace the first impression

"The parents are just as important as the kid," says Sami S., 16. "Even if Junior loves you, if Mommy doesn't, it's over."

Holly M., 13, is all about wardrobe. "No cleavage, no short shorts, no minis! Wear shoes comfy enough to play tag in."

And here's a great parent pleaser from Meagan D., 16: "Make sure you're communicating. Ask if the child has any special needs and what you should be doing while the parents are away. Make sure they know what you need, too. Do you need to be driven home? Do you need to be home by a certain time?" It's all about trust--on both sides.

Leave on the right note

Sure, you entertained those kids all night, fed them, bathed them and had them in bed right on time. But even if the whole night was totally awesome, how you leave things at the end of your gig is just as key.

For starters, keep the place super clean. The last thing you want is for the parents to walk into a disaster of a house, so tidy up as the night progresses instead of leaving it 'til the end.

And once everything is in order and the kids are zonked out? It's totally fine to turn on the TV while you wait for the parents to return, but they'll be uber impressed if you appear a bit more studious. Here's a sneaky tip: Set your phone alarm for 30 minutes before the 'rents are due back. When it chimes, snap off the TV, do a quick once-over of the area, gather your things and then pull out some homework or a book to read quietly.

As you leave, "never forget to shake their hand, say thank you and look them in the eye," says Grace A. That's the mark of a true pro.

Quiz it!

Not quite sure if babysitting is your thing? Head to girlslife.com/iti to see if you've got what it takes for the job.

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HEADS UP!

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Do it!

Visit redcross.org to find a babysitter training class near you. In-person costs $85 while a basic course online runs about $25. Either way, it's a great investment.
COPYRIGHT 2014 Girls Life Acquisition Corp.
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Author:Taylor, Brittany
Publication:Girls' Life
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2014
Words:1673
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