The proudest statement the oldest child of siblings can make when they are babysitting is " MOM LEFT ME IN CHARGE!" That kid is the boss. The head honcho. The captain of the ship! At least until mom (or the responsible caregiver) gets home. But just because they are the oldest child, doesn't mean they know how to be in charge while mom is gone. Although we assume the oldest knows what they need to know, here is a short checklist of things to discuss with your oldest kid to succeed at babysitting their siblings.
- Make sure your child has a working phone. Way back in the old days ( aka the 1990s) it was common for homes to have landlines. Now that landlines have done the way of cassette tapes, it is important for the child to have a way to contact you and/or 911 in an emergency. Even if it is just a pre-paid flip phone for emergencies, get them a phone. Have all contact numbers pre-programmed on the phone as well to make things easier. Remind them to always keep the phone fully charged.
- Earthquakes are natural disasters that happen without warning. If the children are home alone and disaster strikes, do they know what to do? Make an emergency plan and set an alternate meeting location.
- Know the house rules and follow the house rules. No snacks before dinner? No TV until homework is done? Whatever those house rules are when mom ( or the responsible caregiver) is home, are the same rules that apply when the big sibling is in charge. Remind the kids, " with great power, comes great responsibility!"
- If a teenager is taking care of the baby, make sure they know how to change a diaper, prepare a bottle and take the baby's temperature with a thermometer. Remind them to also have plenty of patience. Babies can't talk so they may cry a lot.
- Relax and have fun with your siblings. Yes, sometimes your little brothers and sisters can be annoying, but other times they are cute as a button. Playing games with them, reading them stories, or watching tv together can be a fun bonding experience for the both of you.
For extra credit, kids can take a babysitting 101 class with the Red Cross. They will learn all of the basics of babysitting, CPR, and first aid. This will not only help the family, it can become a paid side gig!