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Babysitting: 10 Basic Tips for Grandparents and Others

Son Jared, and grandsons Dylan, Jordan, Timothy and Ashton
Son Jared, and grandsons Dylan, Jordan, Timothy and Ashton | Source

For the Love of Grandchildren

We all love our kids, and when we are fortunate to become grandparents, we simply adore our grandchildren. It's only natural, right? Of course, it is! So when we are given trust and the privilege of being asked to babysit them for a night or two we feel both humbled and excited. But what about ten days? Especially when it involves four boys 10,9, 3 and 18 months. That certainly becomes more like a challenge, especially if your youngest son is now 28 and moved out of home ten years ago.

Anyway, not being ones to shirk our responsibilities as caring grandparents, my wife Kathy and I recently took on just such a task while our son and daughter in law went to Fiji to attend a relative's wedding. Well, this certainly was a challenge but the ten days is up tomorrow and we have got through it (touch wood) virtually unscathed.

Here are some tips we have learned along the way. I hope they are helpful to other less experienced grandparents and babysitters.

Children love food..some food
Children love food..some food | Source

Babysitting: 10 Basic Tips for Grandparents and Others

1. Count the number of kids you will be looking after. Memorize their names if need be. There is nothing worse than misplacing one. Most returning parents are not impressed to learn Tommy went missing while they were away.

2. Make sure the refrigerator and pantry cupboard are stacked with foods the kids like to eat. Be sure that you ask the parents to buy the food or give you a list because what the kids say they like and what they are actually allowed to eat are often two different things.

3. Obtain recipes or instructions on how to prepare their favourite meals. I know grandma knows best in regard to cooking, but if they have become used to food being prepared a certain way you will soon get sick of hearing, "That's not how mommy makes it," or "That's yucky."

4. Ensure you are left with a detailed list of instructions: daily chores, routines i.e. bed and bath time, coming events, sports days etc. The last thing you want is to be accused of having disrupted the family routine. 4.a. In regard to daily chores. If you aren't provided with a detailed list, for Heaven's sake, don't ask each child what tasks they are personally required to do each day. Ask their brother or sister (if they are old enough) for a fairer guide, or you'll be told the bare minimum. They hate to think their sibling may be getting out of work and they aren't. Believe me, I am speaking from the experience of babysitting 10 and 9-year-old brothers. 4.b. When you first arrive to do the babysitting all the children will try to test you out and see how far they can push the boundaries. This is where the detailed list provided by their parents comes into its own.

5. Make sure there is a sufficient supply of children's Panadol, cough mixture, Bandaids etc as there always seems to be at least one child in the family with a cold or falling over and getting a scrape. If there are babies and toddlers you also need a stockpile of nappies (diapers). Believe me, you can't have too many.

I don't want to go to Day Care

— Jordan - 3-years-old

6. Leave the TV turned on most of the day on a dedicated children's channel, or have lots of kid's DVDs, or Internet programs. The few cents extra in electricity costs are worth it as it acts as another babysitter when you can't be entertaining all the kids at once.

7. Bathtime is interesting. Small children and toddlers seem to love baths and will eagerly line up for the chance for some water-play and splashing. Bigger children and teenagers always have something else more important to do first. Expect it to take at least an hour from the time they are first asked to take a shower until they actually achieve it.

8. Bedtime! Probably the most difficult thing to police, especially with young children. With the one and three-year-olds we are looking after it largely depends on how big a day they had, if they managed an afternoon nap, and basically how tired (or over-tired) they are, come the allotted bedtime. Bigger children require constant prompting, but blackmail often works. 8.a. In fact, blackmail works in many different situations. "If you eat your vegetables, or finish your dinner, you will get ice cream for dessert. If not, forget it!'"If you don't get out of bed and get ready for school, I will take you in your pyjamas." etc.

9. "I don't want to go to Day Care," followed by a sudden cough, "I'm sick," is something we experienced from the 3-year-old. You just have to be strong and take them anyway (unless they show genuine signs of sickness). When you try to drop them off at the Day Care centre they will probably scream and cry, "I want my mommy and daddy" or some such chant, but the carer/teacher said this stopped as soon as we were out of sight.

10. Encourage and reward manners and good behaviour. A smile, a hug, and positive affirmation promotes those desirable traits. This ultimately makes it easier for you the next time you babysit the same children.10.a. Above all, try to stay calm even in the most stressful situations. Do not lose your cool! Kids often think any attention is good attention, or that upsetting you is a win for them (a notch on their gun so to speak). This may be easier said than done - but try your best.

Spitting image of Dylan from behind
Spitting image of Dylan from behind | Source

if you want something done successfully, ask a busy person

— author unknown
Soccer player
Soccer player | Source

One Day to Go

Here we are, just one day to go to complete our babysitting duties. The finish line is in sight! Don't get me wrong, it was challenging but fun to spend quality time with the grandchildren.They really are good kids. Tomorrow we get to attend the final soccer game of the year for the biggest two boys, so that should be fun.

When their parents come home we have to return to our "Cackleberry Farm" and see how our dogs, cats, and chickens are coping. Our pet sitters also had a testing time with our dog Coco taking ill. I was prepared for a rushed trip home but her condition had improved dramatically the next day. We will only be home one night, then off to Toowoomba for Kathy to have an MRI scan on her knee. She apparently has damaged her ACL ligament and it isn't healing as quickly as the doctor would have liked.

Then it will be straight from Toowoomba Hospital to Brisbane to visit a dear friend who is now in palliative care. August was incredibly busy, but September is shaping to be even more "full on." I am surprised I even had a chance to write this, but I'm glad I did. They say, "If you want something done successfully, ask a busy person." Maybe there is something in that statement.

I read this book and then handed it on to my daughter

© 2016 John Hansen

Comments 63 comments

Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 3 months ago from Shelton

Count the number of kids I will be looking after hmmm?..LOl The tips are decent my friend.. I love the dummy photos.. and I bet after watching a whole herd of kids.. we all will end up looking like those photos.. thanks for the share :)


Jodah profile image

Jodah 3 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you for being the first to read this, Frank. Yeah, that first tip was a little tongue in cheek but there are some big families out there.


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 3 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia

Great hub for any grandparent who has had the joy of being on their own with their grandchildren when this is not a common practice. My two live two states away.

My mother used to say, send me the kids one at a time so I can get to know them. Because my grandchildren are shared custody kids, I don't get to do that. Vacation time is too rationed. But having them together but without either parent is a great getting to know them opportunity too. The problem is, I haven't parented full time in a long time, and I'm not used to little kids on a daily basis. I love them and I love having them with me, but I run short on stamina needed for two toddlers, then pre-schoolers, and now school aged children.

Great tips. I'll surely use them next visit!


Jodah profile image

Jodah 3 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Hey, thank you for reading this Kathleen and sharing your own grandparenting situation. My wife and I certainly know what it's like to be worn out after a week looking after four. This is the longest we have had to babysit for. We uestioned how we managed to bring up our own four kids....we were a lot younger and fitter then I guess.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 months ago from Olympia, WA

We only have two, John, both from one son....there are three other sons and one daughter who, thankfully, have not graced us with grandchildren yet. LOL I say thankfully because I need to practice on the first two and try to improve my skills before I move on to more. :)


Jodah profile image

Jodah 3 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Hey, Bill. You better get in plenty of practice on those two grandkids, because when the others start having them they seem to come in a rush :)


Carolyn M Fields profile image

Carolyn M Fields 3 months ago from the USA

Our only son is 19, and has no prospects for marriage any time soon. Nevertheless, I will tuck this away for future reference. They sound like excellent tips. Also, just from the one son, I can confirm, "Kids often think any attention is good attention, or that upsetting you is a win for them." So true.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 3 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Hi Carolyn, thanks for reading. I hope these tips do come in handy for you in the not too distant future. Thanks for confirming that statement too.


Ericdierker profile image

Ericdierker 3 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

My adult children have not graced me so. So what the heck I had another of my own ;-)

My mom having six children within 9 years, would pass out 6 treats after calling the name of all of us. One time at the Grand Canyon my middle sister was left behind and we only knew it because of the treats trick. All is well she just latched onto another big family until we got back.

Loved this hub, thanks.


Carb Diva profile image

Carb Diva 3 months ago

Oh John, you made me laugh (especially with the first instruction), but also a wistful sigh. I despair of ever having a grandchild to love (...or misplace?). Thanks for a good read.


Becky Katz profile image

Becky Katz 3 months ago from Hereford, AZ

I thank God that I had a teenager at home still, when I have been asked to babysit my grandchildren. I have 5 of them from 1 son. I would never make it. When I was babysitting the oldest 2, I made chili. When my son and d-i-l arrived to pick them up, I had to give them the recipe. Apparently Hayden does not like chili, but he ate 3 helpings and asked for some more when lunchtime came around the next day. Apparently mom does not know how to cook, because they all wanted to come back and eat with me again. They liked what I fixed.

I lived close to them until 2 years ago and about 1500 miles from all but 1 of them now. I had the 4 older ones frequently before that. I also lived by a pool that they could swim in daily. We all went down and my daughter and her friends would play with them and I just had to be there to keep an eye on what the teens were doing with them. Teens have no boundaries when they are playing with kids under 6.


manatita44 profile image

manatita44 3 months ago from london

Charming! Sounds like you were busy; yet had some fun. A refreshing of the memory required, it seems, in dealing with kids. You appeared to cope well. Parents or otherwise, they will always push their luck. Nature of kids, I suppose.

A long stretch for you, yes, especially if you like writing and working on the farm. Still, selfless service is good for the Soul (chuckle)

Some very useful tips and a great read. Best wishes to all.


Dana Tate profile image

Dana Tate 3 months ago from LOS ANGELES

I have not been blessed with kids so there will be no grand kids for me. I have many cousins and niece's and a nephew who thinks I am so cool. Unfortunately I do not have the attention span to babysit small kids for very long so they must be old enough to pretty much take care of themselves. This hub will be necessary for many grandparents especially grandparents who are new to the game.


teaches12345 3 months ago

Oh how well I know this scenario! I love your thoughts on grandparenting and how to deal with associated babysitting issues. This was enjoyable to read but so real to life.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 3 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Hi, Eric, good for you not waiting until your kids were ready to give you grandchildren...sometimes you can't wait for the light at the end of the tunnel.. You have to march down there and light the darn thing yourself. Funny to hear about your middle sister at the Grand Canyon too. Just proves my first tip has basis.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 3 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you, Linda. Glad I made you laugh, but sorry you don't think you'll ever have a grandchild. You never know.


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 3 months ago from Orlando, FL

Your grandsons are adorable!! My granddaughters live with me, along with their parents so I see them all the time. I am a carefree grandparent the type who spoils them and then gets reprimanded by their parents...my plan is for them to all move out. My plan isn't working! Enjoy those precious grandsons, they grow up just as fast as our children do.


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 3 months ago from The Beautiful South

Wow, four at a time. I cannot even imagine. I miss babysitting the little ones though and now there is no plans for anymore it is a little sad.

My first grandchild was always on a sugar high with her mom and when we got her for a few days it was like day and night when we gave her no sweets. She stopped being mean and a smart aleck and turned into an angel by day two or three. She was always funny though, lots of good memories.

Have fun making yours!


Jodah profile image

Jodah 3 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you for sharing that Becky. My closest son and family live an hour away, and another within a day's drive. My other son and daughter live in opposite ends of the country and we have to fly to visit. Good for you cooking something that Hayden enjoys, when it's something he doesn't normally eat.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 3 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks, Manatita. The babysitting is almost over but, believe me, the last two days have taken forever. I wish we could take a break.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 3 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks for reading, Dana. You are lucky to have nieces and nephews at least and I am sure they they think you are the cool aunt.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 3 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Dianna, so glad you can identify with the scenarios I describe. They should be real to life as I wrote this while still babysitting.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 3 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Hi Sunshine. You are lucky to have your granddaughters and their parents living with you, though I don't think I could handle it full time. I was already going grey but that has progressed alarmingly over the last week :) they certainly do grow fast though.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 3 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Hi Jackie, we have normally only had to babysit two at a time if it is more than just overnight. This was the first extended period looking after four. It certainly has been a challenge, especially the last two days. I know what a sugar high is like too :)


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 3 months ago from southern USA

Haha ...these tips are great, John! Your grandsons are adorable, and your son looks just like you - handsome.

My son, who just turned 28 blessed me with four grandchildren, two granddaughters and now two grandsons - 8, 6, 4 and 9 months LOL. He started young. My daughter who is five years older than my son does not have any children yet. I am so blessed that they all live not too far down the Interstate from us ...about 40 minutes. I can stop in to see them on my way home from work in the city if I want. They usually all come up every couple of weeks, except Charlie.

However, this very night and for the entire weekend, we have both grandsons and this is the first time sweet Charlie has come to stay up at Nanny's and PawPaw's house. He is always a happy baby. They are both fast asleep now. They play hard.

All of them certainly fill my house and life with so much joy. There is just something "grand" about the grandchildren.

10 days is quite a challenge, especially with such an age range.

God bless you and your precious family.

Happy and safe travels! It is Labor Day weekend here ...long weekend and many are traveling.


manatita44 profile image

manatita44 3 months ago from london

Yes, yes ... I sensed this. Also, this counting kids thing is a serious one. More useful for school trips one would think, but parents experience them all the time. Especially when shopping or walking the streets. They can even find their way to the police station. So true, Bro.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 3 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you for the wonderful comment, Theresa. You are certainly blessed to have your grandchildren close by and I wish you well babysitting this weekend. Have a great Labor Day weekend.


peachpurple profile image

peachpurple 3 months ago from Home Sweet Home

great tips, I think caregiver, baby sitter and grandparents should be reading this hub, good advice not to get panic


Jodah profile image

Jodah 3 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks for reading and recommending this to others, Peachpurple. Much appreciated.


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 3 months ago from USA

I only have one child myself and am usually the fun aunt that all the kids want to be with, but truth be told more than one at a time makes me nervous!


Glenis Rix profile image

Glenis Rix 3 months ago from UK

LOL. Top tips. I think I must be making the longest trip ever to babysit it February. UK to Singapore. Sitting one child only whilst Mummy is in hospital for caesarean.


Cynthia Haltom profile image

Cynthia Haltom 3 months ago from Diamondhead

I get this! I have 9 grandchildren with 1 more on the way. I can't tell you how many time I have babysat them.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 3 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

And so it should Flourish, babysitting more than one is not for the faint hearted.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 3 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Wow, that is a long babysitting trip, Glenis. My wife has flown from Brisbane to Darwin to babysit for the same reason also quite a distance.mthanks for reading.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 3 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Hi Cynthia. Well you certainly know where I am coming from :) Happy future babysitting.


BlossomSB profile image

BlossomSB 3 months ago from Victoria, Australia

Four boys for ten days! Now that really is an undertaking - not sure I would manage that these days. It must have taken some organising with your needing to abandon Cackleberry Farm, too! I dips me lid to you!


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 3 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

You've shared some useful and amusing tips for babysitters, Jodah. Taking care of four boys for ten days sounds like a major job. I'm glad it was successful!


Jodah profile image

Jodah 3 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

It certainly was a test Blossom. Kathy and I both said "never again".. Not for that amount of time. We are too old and cranky. We had a wonderful couple farm sitting, so all was good there. Great to be home, but we are off again tomorrow. Thanks for reading.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 3 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you, Linda. It was successful in that both us and the kids survived the ordeal :) not looking to do it again in a hurry however.


DDE profile image

DDE 3 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

A challenge indeed! Interesting and helpful.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 3 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks, Devika. I hope these tips do help others who may be new to babysitting.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 months ago from The Caribbean

Really good tips, Jodah. When I visit my son I stay for weeks at a time and expect that babysitting will be part of the adventure. Respectfully, I have doubts about your number six, not because of the electricity, but because after they watch their favorite shows, I want the challenge of occupying them with other activities. Bet you're a fun grand-dad!


Jodah profile image

Jodah 3 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Ms Dora, thanks for the great comment. If I was babysitting in my home number 6 would not happen. They would be spending more time outside playing with animals and exploring, but at their own home that is the way things are done. They don't sit and watch it continuously but the TV is on when they want to. I think I am seen as a fun granddad. :)


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 3 months ago from Central Florida

I haven't had the honor of becoming a grandmother yet, but hope I'm as good at it as you and Kathy are, John. Yes, kids will test you. I'll have to keep that in mind when the time comes.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 2 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

I am sure the time will come, Shauna. I was a grandfather by 40. So, Kathy and I have had plenty of practice but the babysitting doesn't get any easier as you get older. Thanks for reading.


ChitrangadaSharan profile image

ChitrangadaSharan 2 months ago from New Delhi, India

This is so interesting, cute and so informative at the same time! You have provided so many tips for babysitting not only to grandparents but many others who may be doing this very important job.

Looking after kids is no joke, they can be smarter than what we may think. In spite of taking so many precautions they might do something that wouldn't have occurred in your mind at all. With kids around one has to be extra cautious , always vigilant and alert for their safety as well as comfort.

Congratulations for a job so well done by you and your wife! Thanks for sharing this interesting and informative hub!


Jodah profile image

Jodah 2 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

This is a great comment, Chitrangada. certainly, babysitting is an important job and no joke. Kids are very smart and will often try and prove they are smarter than you. I am glad you feel this article will be useful to others who are contemplating minding children.


Surabhi Kaura profile image

Surabhi Kaura 2 months ago from Toronto, Canada

Wonderful hub, Jodah! Great tips here. I have a long road to travel yet (giggle). I can feel your love towards your children, as well as towards your grandchildren. What a joy to read this article. I was babysitting my nephews in Alberta. I played with them and did some art and colouring (as you have seen). I love kids. God resides in kids. They are so innocent... unaware of the burdens of life, and they enjoy every moment of life. One of my nephews read me a quote, "Life is like an ice-cream. Enjoy before it melts." So true, eh! I salute you and Kathleen for the wonderful upbringing. It's a very useful and informative article for the would-be grandparents :) Thank you... thank you.

P.S. I will read rest of the hubs tomorrow, my Sweet. I should sleep now. Yawning much... he he. Love you!


word55 2 months ago

Hey John, these were top ten greats. You must be some kind of baby sitting expert, lol. Keep up the good work.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 2 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Hey, Surabhi, good to see you here. Yes, you do have quite a road to travel before you become a grandmother...but at least you already get to babysit your nephews. They sound like great kids and I agree with the "life is like an icecream.." quote. So true. Have a restful sleep, and I will talk soon.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 2 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Hi,Al. Thanks for reading this and the generous comment. I should know a bit about babysitting, I have been doing it for more years than I can remember.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 2 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

Hello John. I am out of breath just thinking about taking care of a house full of children. So, high five, on your success with this. It must be a great bonding experience. You set the bar high. (And I don't mean out of reach of the children.)


Jodah profile image

Jodah 2 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Hey, Mike. I'm not perfect but I do my best :) yes, it is a good bonding experience. Thanks for the kind comment.


Vellur profile image

Vellur 2 months ago from Dubai

It must have been hectic but enjoyable looking after your grandsons. The TV is a life saver if you are tired. Getting them to bathe is even more of a difficult task. I hope Kathy gets better soon. Great pics!


Jodah profile image

Jodah 2 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

It certainly was hectic, Vellur. They say having kids around keeps you young, so if that's true it's all good. Thanks for reading and wishing Kathy well.


savvydating profile image

savvydating 2 months ago

Ten days is a lot of days when we're talking about four boys! But you did it. Yay! By the way, your son and grandsons' are very handsome.

I don't have grandchildren, but if I ever get any I'll know which hub I can refer back to. Or maybe I'll do like one of my aunts. When it comes to dinner time and grandchildren, she keeps it simple. "Here's what we're having for dinner, kids. Take it or leave it." Ha. I think she saves time that way, if nothing else.

Fun Hub, Jodah. I really enjoyed it.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 2 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks for the kind remarks, Savvy. I'll tell my son you think he and his boys are handsome...he'll be chuffed.

Your aunt's dinner time tip is a good one...however the youngest would just toss his plate on the floor if he didn't like it, rather than eat. Cheers.


Larry Rankin profile image

Larry Rankin 2 months ago from Oklahoma

Wonderful tips!


Deb Hirt 2 months ago

Great advice! However, check your last two paragraphs. Several sentences somehow ended up being repetitive.


Deb Hirt 2 months ago

resending--Great advice! However, check your last two paragraphs. Several sentences somehow ended up being repetitive.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 2 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you for that Deb, I have been through this so many times and never picked up that repetition. Much appreciated.


Lawrence Hebb 2 months ago

John.

I'd add 'padlock the pantry door ' oh sorry, thats for kids not necessarily Grandkids!

Loved this read.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 2 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Haha, that could be good advice too, Lawrence :) Glad you enjoyed this read.

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