♥ It All Started Back in the 1980's

copyright Andy Dean photography

I can remember back when I was 12 years old and I was just starting out my baby-sitting journey. I took my baby-sitting jobs very seriously, it meant a lot to me to be making my one dollar per hour at the time. Hey - that could buy alot’a candies and bubble gum at the corner store back in those days! (which I traveled to on my roller skates of course!)

But more importantly, it felt so wonderful to be trusted. ME! A 12 year old kid! Trustworthy. Trusted by these parents to watch their tiny little human-people and to take care of their children and change their babies diapers and make sure they were fed and safe and bathed and clean and picked-up after and put to bed on time and tucked in safely at night and checked in on every hour on the hour. I felt so grown. It felt like I instantly matured in one sitting session. I felt as if I became very “adult-like” over the course of one summer. Which made me feel even more responsible and made me want to try even harder to strive to do a really SUPER-dooper good job so the families would want me to come back to baby-sit more often! 

That’s how I became a regular baby-sitter! I was the "go to" baby-sitter for the whole neighborhood. I was the favorite baby-sitter that everyone would call to baby-sit on the weekends, holidays and every New Year's Eve! I didn’t have much of a social life as a teenager. I would always bring my school books with me to my baby-sitting jobs so I could do my homework and study for tests after the kids had been put to bed. No tv for me, no lounging on the sofa flipping channels or raiding their fridge. I guess I always figured that these parents were paying me for my time on the clock. So I may as well be doing something productive, for them. To earn the money they were paying me during that shift. After the kids were asleep, THIS baby-sitter would clean the kids bath area, gather all the bath towels and toss 'em in the laundry, clean up the toys and books and play areas, then head to the kitchen to tidy up, wash the dinner dishes, load and run the dishwasher! It was always my goal to be a bit of an over-achiever so the parents would come home and gasp with a huge smile on their face, bewildered at how clean their house was. I thrived on their reactions, I made it my priority to make their house cleaner than it was before they left! Eventually over time, as I got older I learned the value of lighting a scented candle for them and turning on some soft, soothing music to have playing when they walked in. I just imagined what a delightful treat that would be for a couple to come home to - whether from a fun, relaxing, romantic date night or a long hard grueling stressful day at work. Either way, the look of relief and smile of appreciation on their faces was always so rewarding for me, that I made it my “signature" Jen ritual.

I remember in 1981 or ’82, my mom’s next-door-neighbor lady friend Miss Betsy, she was probably in her late sixties then, long gray hair, rust colored eyes, a rough raspy laugh, scruffy voice, cigarette hanging down from her lip at all times… but she was the wisest woman I ever knew. Ever. Always quoting wise metaphors and spouting off advice and words of wisdom. Albeit unsolicited most times, I know now in hind sight that to have known her was an absolute privilege. The things I learned from that lady are ageless and timeless and priceless! Etiquette, lady-like manners, being attentive to other people’s feelings, empathy. Betsy, wherever you are now… thank you! It worked. It stuck with me…. and I am still spreading your words of wisdom and acts of kindness and putting out into the world the wonderful important things you taught me. I still continue to pass it on to the children and babies I care for now… some 40 years later!

Miss Betsy once gave me a very special book about how to be a baby-sitter. A baby-sitter’s hand-book if you will. It was an old, used and very beat-up book that she had used when she was a young girl, probably from the mid 1930’s or 40’s maybe. The words in this book were a little antiquated, slightly silly and definitely far fetched by the time I got to read it in 1981- '82. But I so enjoyed flipping through the old tattered pages of black-and-white photographs and pictures of Lucille Ball type looking ladies, wearing their pearl necklaces and perfectly ironed aprons. I remember thinking it was so outdated - their ideals back then and how far fetched and different things were back then from the times now. (1980’s) But I just felt so special and honored that Miss Betsy would give me this keepsake book that she had treasured and held on to for herself for decades as a memento of her baby-sitting days when she was a young girl. It was as if she was passing the torch.

Now here I was the new kid in town, the new baby-sitter on the block the wide eyed twelve-year-old girl who was ready to start her (unbeknownst to me at the time) lifetime career of taking care of other people's children. Had I known then that I was going to be a nanny well into my fifties, I probably would have read the book a little bit more thoroughly ha ha! I would certainly have kept the book. Sadly I have no idea what happened to it! 

But now, today in 2020 - it is my honor to be the one handing out my own old school, antiquated advice and ideals and tips on how to be a good babysitter. I hope this helps all the girls out there just starting out. All those hard working little ladies who want to be the coolest baby sitter on the block and make some extra money. Save your money girls, don't spend it all-in-one place as soon as you put it in your pocket! Don't go straight to the bubble gum store… don't go to the video arcade at the mall. (Do they have those still?) Save your money, hide it under your mattress like I did - until the rolled up rubber band-ed wad of dollar bills got to be too big so I stuck it in a Planter's peanut can. That's when my Dad finally insisted that I open a bank account and put my baby-sitter savings in a safe place.

So to all you cutie pies out there who feel ready to start YOUR babysitting career - even if it’s just a temporary summer job. Hopefully you can watch my youtube video series called: 

Tips and tricks and best kept secrets on How to be the BEST Babysitter EVER! Links coming soon. Stay tuned! Subscribe or comment below so I can send you updates!

For more information about newborns, babies, infant, toddlers: you might find my FUN educational youtube videos helpful:

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