Babysitting vs. Nannying Jobs: What to Expect

By Amanda Cohen on July 10, 2018

Many of us have babysat during our lifetime. Whether you make it your full-time summer job or just a quick way to make some cash during the school year, you’ve either fallen absolutely in love with the little rascals that you look after, or you can’t wait to get the heck out of there. Let me just get to the point here… read this article if (1) you love babysitting and you are looking to make childcare your career, (2) you never babysat before and are looking to get the lay of the land, (3) the family you babysit for asks you to take on the job of nanny as opposed to babysitter, and (4) if you are looking for a summer job and/or a post-graduate job.

I am here to tell you about the similarities and differences between nannying and babysitting and what your overall expectations should be for both of these childcare positions. The biggest distinction between babysitting and nannying is that babysitting is more of a part-time position, while nannying is a full-time, career position. Regardless if you want to be a babysitter or a nanny, both are extremely rewarding, difficult, and require you to be very responsible. Now that you know the general distinction between babysitting and nannying, let’s get into the nitty-gritty.

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If you are looking to make some extra money and love children, you should definitely look into babysitting. When thinking about the expectations of babysitting, it really depends on family-to-family, but you can gauge the expectations of babysitting using the following criteria: (1) number of children, (2) age of child/children, and (3) time of day in which you will babysit. If you are babysitting an infant and/or a toddler, you need to expect to run around a lot and stick to a very strict schedule when it comes to eating and naps.

If you are babysitting kids between the ages of 1 and 6, you will be on your toes a lot and you will have to watch these kids like hawks. You will have to play with the kids and, if there is an infant, you will have to hold the infant and help the infant if he/she is crying. If you are babysitting kids 7 and older, you will still have to be vigilant, but not to the same extent as you would with younger children. You will still have to feed them and watch over them, but you won’t really have to worry about them putting small objects in their mouths.

Let’s now talk about time of day. If you’re babysitting the kids in the morning and early afternoon, you will either have kids who sleep in, in which case your life is made a lot easier, or you’ll have kids who wake up early and will be rambunctious. You will need to make sure the kids have breakfast, a snack, and lunch. If you are looking after an infant, you will probably need to put them down for a nap.

If you are babysitting from later afternoon into the evening, you will follow a similar schedule, but the evening will definitely be more relaxed and you will need to make sure that you get the kids ready for bed. If the kids are younger, expect to read them a story or two and be sure to check on them a few times. If you are babysitting an infant, consider rocking him/her to sleep and follow the parents’ directions on how to best get the baby to go to sleep. When I babysit infants, I check on them very regularly (just in case).

Okay, you learned a lot about babysitting, but let’s talk about nannying. Nannying is a full-time job (it’s a career). Parents hire nannies to stay with their kids the majority of the day, if not all day/night. Your responsibilities are similar to babysitting, but you will be expected to be more mindful of the cleanliness of the house/apartment as well as the kids. You may have to drive kids to and from camp or school and take them to after-school activities.

Babysitters aren’t usually expected to drive the kids they look after around to various activities, but sometimes you may have to pick up the kids from school or camp. Nannies are usually with a family from the early beginnings of kids’ lives until very late in the lives. Sometimes, nannies are also trained housekeepers, which definitely helps with making some more money. The more you do for a family, the more you will get paid. Nannies are paid much more than babysitters because they have much more responsibility and are usually with a family for a very long period of time, while babysitting is usually temporary.

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Well, there you have it. The differences between babysitting and nannying as well as the expectations. However, the expectations and payment truly vary from family to family, so be sure to sit down and talk to the family you’re working for so that there are as few surprises as possible when you are with their child (or children). I loved babysitting and highly recommend babysitting and/or nannying if you love child care.

I am currently a junior at the University of Michigan.

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