New Years Eve Babysitting -- long

allyvera18December 26, 2001

Today I advertised on all of the mailboxes of my affluent apartment complex that I'm offering a New years eve slumber party for 8 children ages 2 to 12 from 8 pm to 8 am. I'm crossing my fingers that it'll go smoothly but I have some concerns. Since I'm a college student with no children, I have some questions. Okay, i'm charging $50 per child for 12 hours of babysitting including meals and lots of entertainment (I work with elementary students 4 hours a day so I think I have entertainment down). I thought this was a lot of money but my mom and her friends emphasized what a pain it is to find a babysitter on new years eve, especially an older and more responsible one and that they would have killed for this kind of service when they had young children. It's less than 5 dollars an hour, and the majority of the people who live here can definitely afford it. I'm also making extra hours available for $5 an hour. I set the flat rate because it will be costly renting movies and buying food and stuff and since I can only allow 8 children, I can't afford to only have a couple of kids for just a few hours (I am a college student after all!) However, I'm concerned that parents will want to pick their kids up after they get home (in the early am hours) which is understandable cause I don't think they'll want to wake up at 8 am to pick them up (which is why i'm offering additional hours) but then again, I'm afraid they'll want a reduced price because of that. So my main questions are: would you pay $50 per child for an entire fun evening with a very experienced, over 18 sitter? Would you not want your child to stay the entire 12 hours? Would you prefer an hourly rate? Is it wrong of me to set a flat rate like that? Should I remain firm when people want exceptions? My mom assures me that since we have a couple hundred people in our complex, finding 8 who are willing to comply with my conditions won't be a problem, but I have my doubts. I don't care if they pick them up early. Of course, i'd rather they have the kid stay till noon then have to wake a 4 year old up at 3 in the morning, but whatever the parent prefers. Oh yeah, i'm preparing questionares asking about contact phone numbers, allergies, info about any medication that has to be given, and any strict things the child is not allowed to do. Anything else I should ask? What would you want your babysitter to know for a 12 hour span? Thanks so much.

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I think $50 flat rate for New Year's Eve is a bargain. Don't let people quibble the cost with you if they want to pick up their children early (although anyone who want's to disturb a child's sleep by picking them up at 3:00 a.m. instead of disturbing their own sleep by going to get them at 8:00 a.m. has their priorities mixed up!). However, for people who have more than one child for you to babysit, you may want to say $100 for the first two and $25 for the third, or womething like that, or it does get kind of pricey.

You sound like an incredibly good babysitter and I'm glad you thought of the questionnaire. You may also want to ask about toiletting habits (some kids need to be reminded to use the toilet before going to bed, or during the evening--ask all kids under six to bring an extra set of clothes!); comfort objects (such as teddy bears, etc) that may help if a child becomes lonely; any special fears (some kids are afraid of unusal things); plus things they like--favourite books, games, TV shows. With 8 kids, don't be afraid to fall back on a video and snacks--it will be loud and boisterous.

I also think you should insist that the parents meet with you for an interview beforehand. Any parent who would deny a chance to check you out is negligent. This also gives the child a chance to meet you and see your place so it won't be completely foreign to them, and also gives you a chance to see if YOU can really handle this child's needs for 12+ hours. A single kid can sometimes be the work of 8--and that's not just a pain but can be dangerous if you need to look after 8 kids but one is demanding your entire attention. Good luck, and happy new year!

    Bookmark   December 26, 2001 at 1:35AM
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I think your price is fair. And the information you want is good, however...I would NEVER personally do or allow my children to particapate in something like this. I have worked in childcare and I know, where I was, it was not legal to watch so many children without being registered. I do think that you will easily find that many children. (I'm just voicing what my concerns as a parent would be.) Also, what will you do if one of the children needs emergency attention? You should go to the hospitol, but what about all the other children? I think this would be a great idea IF you get a friend to do it with you. And remember that you're planning on watching a very wide age range...what entertains a 2 year old will not entertain a 12 year old. I think Mom4boys has some very good ideas. Good luck!

    Bookmark   December 26, 2001 at 2:17AM
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I would come up with a contract of a sort and have the parents sign it. On the contract I would put information about drop off/pick up times, what's included in your price (just generally - meals, brief description of entertainment, etc), the fact that it's a $50 flat fee (plus any late pick-up charges and what that amount would be), etc. I would also get an authorization form from the parents in case any child needs emergency medical attention.

I agree that if you are going to watch a whole bunch of kids it's a good idea to have someone handy as a back up in case you do have to take someone to the hospital or take care of an emergency. It sounds like your mom lives in the apartment complex? Will she be around to be your back up person?

I would definitely pay $50 for a night's babysitting. The rate is very reasonable, especially considering the holiday.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   December 26, 2001 at 7:34AM
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I think that your price is fair, but I think you will be very, very lucky if all goes well. You are taking a big risk and it could easily turn out badly with that many, expecially if you have a wide range of ages.

What will you do if one gets hurt or sick? Trust me, it could happen.

And if your older ones are both boys and girls, it could get rowdy. Younger ones are going to get tired and cranky and want to go home. What then?

My DH and I sometimes keep three, 1 girl, 5yrs old and two boys, 6 and 10. They pick at each other, they don't want to watch the same programs. There is no way that 5 and 10 year old children can be entertained the same way. And we have had years and years of experience. Your entertaining elementary students for 4 hours in a school environment is one thing, but you will be faced with is something entirely different. I am not saying that it can't be done. It may work out well.

Cut it down to four, and forget about renting movies. You would clear almost as much and it would be a lot safer.

There is no way under the sun that I would attempt to keep 8 in a home environment. Nor would I have left my children unless there were at least two adults there.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2001 at 8:09AM
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I think your price is fair, but I wouldn't let my kids participate. I prefer for my kids to be in MY HOME when I go out. I would never let my kids be in a large group setting where there were not at least 2 adults present. I share the concerns of others regarding what would you do if someone got hurt or sick. Also-the younger ones may get upset once they realize that their parents expect them to sleep away from home. Again, some kids will do this (my 5 yo would LOVE IT) and others (my 7 yo would be upset) will not be happy about it.

If you are renting movies what age group are you aiming to please? A 10 yo boy and a 5 yo girl will have very different ideas of a good movie. What else will they do all night? I don't think your idea is a bad one, but you might consider doing this with another adult and planning different entertainment based on the ages of the kids.


    Bookmark   December 26, 2001 at 9:59AM
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I think that is a great idea. As a matter of fact, I did it before and I am thinking about doing it this year. But, the kids I kept were either referred through a family member or someone I knew. I do not think it is true that you cannot get the age groups to agree on a movie. I have my son (7) and 2 nieces (4,11) all of the time and there are plenty of movies that they watch together. Take your pick from the Disney collection.

Also, you said you had entertainment planned. I find that you can do a lot of silly things and crafts that all age groups like. For instance, I did a scavenger hunt for the kids Christmas Eve so that they would not bug me about opening gifts early. I wrapped things such as bank with money for ordering pizza, cassette tapes to record them doing karaoke to my Christmas cd, glitter/glue/stockings for decorating stockings, popcorn/popper to do it the old fashioned way, two board games and cookie dough. They had a ball!! My son loved getting the gifts but my oldest niece loved the hunt. I hid the gifts in different areas of the house and left clues to each gift with the last gift found. Example: for the bank - "to find the funds to stuff your face, search in Santa's landing place" it was hidden in the fireplace. The rule was they had to take turns reading the clues & opening the gifts and they could not go on to the next clue until the activity was finished for the last clue found. It entertained them for hours on Christmas Eve.

I think that the contract, back up sitter and questionnaire are all good ideas. I treated it like one big slumber party. Don't forget the sleeping bags.

If you know someone that received a large boxed item get the box from them. The year that I babysat for New Year's, I had made my son a jailhouse/saloon for his western theme birthday party (Nov 30th) out of a large cardboard box. It just happened to be sitting in the basement when the kids came over. They played with that box for hours upon hours. I cut out a front door and 2 side windows and posted wanted signs of my son and niece that I made on the computer on the front. The larger the box the better. You could have them help you decorate it and the cool thing is - you can trash it after you finish it.

What you are doing is very possible and the children will have a great time. You will just be very tired in the morning. LOL

    Bookmark   December 26, 2001 at 11:13AM
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Ok now i'm a little bit scared. Well, first off, my 18 year old brother will definitely, without a doubt, be here, and we have access to several vehicles in case an emergency does arise. I'm not certain, but my mom may be here all night, and she'll definitely be here from 2 am on but I have a feeling that'll be the easy part since the little ones may be asleep by then. And we're on great terms with the neighbors just in case we can't handle it alone. And the elementary school students I work in aren't in a school. It's an after school daycare program with a terrible structure so it's very chaotic, and lately i've been bringing my laptop and they are fascinated by the sims game and 6 kids at a time would pay attention. I don't think computer games would work though. I was planning on asking what ratings the kids are allowed, but I'll probably just keep it all G to avoid a big mess. We have 3 tv/vcr's so if there's no agreement on a movie, we can watch different ones. I was throwing around the idea of letting the kids make their own little pizza's (I would pre-bake the crust, then would just top it and bake for 5 minutes or so) and we would do that in groups. I thought they might enjoy getting a little creative, and I thought they would be more likely to actually eat something they made. Bad idea? The idea for a legal contract is a great idea. A lawsuit certainly isn't my new years resolution. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that no injuries will happen, but I know that it's unforseen with children. I've been involved with the red cross for years so i'm certified in CPR. We have ample first aid complete with harry potter bandaids. I'm not planning on going outside and all the sharp knives will be put away. The only possible physical hazard I can think of is the oven and I won't allow any child to be in the kitchen when I'm using the oven if I do use it. What about over the counter medication (children's tylenol, etc)? I would definitely never give it without permission from the parents, but do you think that's something I should ask? I know i'll be so tired but it's good cause I have a flight back to Chicago (where I go to school--I'm in LA right now) on the 2nd. Thanks for warning me of possible problems. I now know a little more of what to plan for. Thanks for your help!

    Bookmark   December 26, 2001 at 12:38PM
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Is your house child proofed? What if you don't get 8 kids-will be back out on the ones you do get? I'd never let my kid go to a strangers house overnight no matter how qualified they are so you might not get 8.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2001 at 1:17PM
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I forgot to mention...I have a 3 month old kitten. He LOVES to play with his toys and he's great with people, however I've never subjected him to 8 kids before. I'm screening for cat allergies on the first phone call, but I'm concerned about potential problems. He's teething, and sometimes he nibbles on you. It doesn't really hurt, but I also have a higher pain tolerance than a child does. He certainly never draws blood. I just don't want the kids going home to their parents saying my cat bit them because all sorts of problems can arise from that. I guess I can put him in the spare bedroom witha litter box and food and toys. I don't think he'd have a problem, and I think most of the kids would like to play with him, which he'd love, but I also realize its a potential problem. So should I just put him in a room? Anyone have experience with this kind of thing? I would just ask the parents but it's going to sound kind of weird..."Is it okay if my cat bites your kid? He won't draw blood and he's just playing" I mean what parent in their right mind would say it's okay? I'll probably just put him in the room. I think he'll be okay in there. I'm still going to screen for allergies though because of fur and stuff like that.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2001 at 1:18PM
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I'd tighten up the age range -- maybe do ages 3-9. Older kids can think up more mischief. Also you don't want parents worrying about gender issues, and 10-12 year olds could be a problem. Heck, I was babysitting at 12.


    Bookmark   December 26, 2001 at 1:39PM
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Even if I only get one child, I'll still do it because i'm not the type to back out of commitments. If I only get one family, I'll offer to do it in their apartment instead. I wanted to ask some questions to the people who would never allow their children to do this. I understand the whole stranger thing, but do you also allow your kids to go to slumber parties if you don't personally know the parents? Would it be any comfort at all if the caregiver was over 18 and located in the same apartment complex? I don't mean to sound rude but I'm just wondering for future reference. I never really thought about gender issues. That's a good point. After all, it is a co-ed sleepover. Hmm...maybe I can go change the signs. Although I'd hate to lose a family with 3 kids if the kids are 5, 7 and 11 or something like that. Maybe I can just ask the parents when they call if they have a problem with it, because the ages are stated clearly on the sign and I doubt they would call if they were bothered by it.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2001 at 2:04PM
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I would not allow my kids to stay overnight in a home where I did not personally know the adults in charge very well.


    Bookmark   December 26, 2001 at 2:12PM
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I would tighten up the age group too. A 2yr old child would be ready for bed at 8:00 and 12 year old ones are capable of staying up all night. 4-9 would be a better group.

I think that a lot of parents would be hesitant to let a daughter spend the night where there was an 18 year old male about. I would be. while you know your brother, they wouldn't.

One reason that there is a relutance to allow children to stay over night in a strange house is a common problem. There are references on this forum.....head lice. You may know for sure that your house is clean, but they don't know it. Nor do they know if you have guns tucked in bedside tables. Or if you or someone in the house drinks or does some kind of drug. There will probably be enough parents that don't think that far ahead for your plan to be successful.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2001 at 2:46PM
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I think your price is more than fair- but I also would never allow my children to spend an hour with someone I don't know well, much less overnight. You sound like a good sitter, but I just wouldn't be comfortable with it. Even if I knew you, I would be uncomfortable with the 18 year old brother, if I didn't know him. But, it seems to me a some parents I have run into aren't really picky when it comes to their kids and will let their kids stay pretty much anywhere. I have also found that these kids tend to behave worse than kids that have parents that are more protective.

I would keep the cat away from the kids- as much for the safety of the cat as the kids. You should also be prepared for children who get really upset in the middle of the night being away from home- I have had this happen with my kids friends who do know us well. Good Luck- eight kids is an awful lot to handle!

    Bookmark   December 26, 2001 at 3:16PM
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I don't think you asked for opinions on whether people would let their kids stay with you, so I'll refrain.

I think your idea is good. $50 is CHEAP for such a service - don't hesitate on the price and don't come down. Around here, you can't get a babysitter on New Year's for any price! Don't worry about accidents - in-home daycare providers watch 5-8 kids daily without another adult in the house!

Don't worry about children's medications. When parents call, ask them to bring any necessary meds along with WRITTEN instructions for dispensing.

Good luck to you!

    Bookmark   December 26, 2001 at 3:30PM
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I think the kitty needs to stay elsewhere for the night. It's just not safe for a kitten to be in a house full of that many children. Our kittens always got locked up when we had young company over, unless all was well supervised. (one on one contact)it's so easy to hurt a small animal, and you can just imagine how kids would fight over who got to hold it. Locking it up in the same house isn't going to work. it will cry and cry.

Vaccum and dust your house well after the cat leaves, and do make sure to tell parents that you DO have a cat, but it won't be there for the night. Kids with mild allergies shouldn't have a problem- kids with severe ones probably will, so parents need to know upfront.

I think the price is reasonable. I pay almost that much for an evening out. Don't back down or make exceptions to the price.(except for multiple siblings) Even if the parents show up 5 hours later, you've still given them a great deal.

I think the mini pizza idea is great, but probably won't work with that many kids. have take and bake ready, much easier and no mess. Maybe you could do your mini pizza idea for dessert- use rice cakes and spread with peanut butter, then you could cover them in sunflower seeds, raisins, chocolate chips, etc. that would be fun, and no oven needed!

I also think the 4-9 range is more appropriate. a little one would probably be very unnerved in an environment full of 7 other strange, older kids. 4-9 can watch the same G rated movies. Personally, I might avoid disney movies all together, as some find them a little too aggressive and scary for younger kids. Might try Franklin, Dragon Tales.. your public library ought to have videos you can borrow, free. Might be a good idea to let parents know what you *do* plan on showing their kids ahead of time, somewhere in your contract.

you could also play board games with a group of those ages, puzzles, do a craft for new years with beads and noisemakers..

of course it may not be that mellow. have LOTS of activities planned, expect chaos, and definitely have all chemicals/cleaning agents put away safely.

good luck!

    Bookmark   December 26, 2001 at 6:13PM
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Please let us know how this turns out.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2001 at 8:11PM
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Well my mom was convinced that people would be knocking down my door but so far no one has called. I guess parents are thinking more along the lines of how you guys explained. It kind of makes me sad because I was really looking forward to this. I love kids and I never get tired of listening to them talk or playing with them. I love the silly and profound things they say. And those 4 hours a day I spend with those kids are the highlight of my day. It's good that parents are being cautious with their kids. They're precious.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2001 at 11:01PM
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Hi Allyveral-wish you were my neighbour because you do sound like a great sitter. If you do get kids of different ages, employ the older ones for 25 cents an hour to help you watch and care for the younger ones. Now of course it is still 100% you that is in charge, but this gives older kids a mission and keeps them from being bored, even during entertainment for younger kids is going on. Plus, they really can be helpful and are immensely proud of their "earnings." Good luck!

    Bookmark   December 27, 2001 at 12:10AM
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If the parents knew you they might be more inclined to engage you as a sitter. I would try to make yourself available as a sitter for a few of the young people in your complex. If you get a good reputation with the parents during the year you would probably get a better response next year at New Year's Eve. When I said I wouldn't let my kids stay where I did not know the adults in charge it wasn't meant to be personal. You sound like exactly the kind of sitter I would love to engage on a regular basis.


    Bookmark   December 27, 2001 at 10:07AM
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I think your idea is great and the price too. I used to get paid $50 a night on New Years and that was 15 years ago. Too bad noone picked up on the idea. Maybe advertise in a paper early next year, give parents a chance to meet you. I know for many people this is a bad money year and instead of going out with and getting sitters they are staying home with the kids or going to friends and everyone is bringing the kids. We have only been out once in 4 years and it was so boring we have stayed home the rest and plan on doing the same this year.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2001 at 10:23AM
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If you were going to have a spare adult for the full time, and your customers were going to be in the same complex as you, you could offer "kid delivery" service after breakfast.

Also, you might actually do better w/ babies. Parents w/ older kids (I think--what do I know?) are probably worn out, and less likely to want to go out; parents who have little ones are usually still in that "going out on New Year's" mode.

And I think Mommabear is right, if the parents knew you a little better over the year, they might be more likely to join in. Did your flyer mention your qualifications?

    Bookmark   December 27, 2001 at 10:31AM
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My fliers mentioned that i'm a college student. I wanted to put my experience on there but my mom said I should only do that if people ask, but I'm starting to see that I should have stuck with my instincts. The problem with letting people get to know me is that i'm only in California for a month in winter and 3 months in the summer, and I'm in Chicago the rest of the time for school. I have a great reputation in Hyde park for being a good babysitter but no one in California really knows me. I was looking at getting licensed this summer for child care instead of working in a lab every summer like I usually do (good pay but terribly boring), but I was looking at the necessary qualifications and it might be a problem since I'm not there all year but I'm still going to look into it because that's something I'd love to do. I just have to talk my mom into it. She's eager to get me into the die hard working world. I guess it's fair of her since she is spending a small fortune for my economics degree. Oops went off on a tangent. Anyway, so far no one has called so it might not even work out at all. It was so funny, I wandered around the complex yesterday looking at my posters (I hung 15 of them, each with 10 little tab things you can pull off with the contact info on them) on all of the mailboxes and 1 tab out of 150 was taken and I was ecstatic lol. Oh yeah, I was thinking about that delivery service thing. I think i'll offer it if anyone actually calls and if not, i'll add it to the posters tonight. Thanks for your help, i'll keep you updated.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2001 at 4:28PM
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People usually line up their new year's sitter early.


    Bookmark   December 27, 2001 at 10:27PM
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If you don't get a call, you might change the poster to offer sitting in someone's home; then you at least could make some money, if not as much.

And big-time you were right about putting your experience on there. Your age is nice, you're not a teenager, but the experience would make a huge difference to some folks.

Do folks in the complex know your parents much better than they know you? They might have been info to include.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2001 at 9:53AM
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Everything has come to an end. Sometime early Friday morning between midnight and 8 am, someone tore down all 15 of my signs. It definitely wasn't the mailman, so i'm guessing management unless some tenant had a lot of time on their hands. Maybe I should have checked the rules about posting but it kind of bugs me that they would just tear down these things. It would have been nice if they had called me (my number was listed 10 times on each sign) and explained why they had a problem with it and I would have been happy to take them down or move them to a location which wasn't against the rules. It took me over 5 hours to make those and hang them up and i'm just upset. So no phone calls, and no signs, so it looks like i'm hitting blockbuster and ben and jerry's for new years. Not all that bad =) Thanks for all of your help and advice. I'll definitely keep it in mind if I ever decide to do this again.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2001 at 1:00AM
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So sorry Ally. That's a bummer for sure. But if nothing else comes out of this, there's at least this message from a stranger who means it--you are an incredibly mature young woman. I wish I'd been as wise and resiliant as you when I was your age. You have the wisdom to see an opportunity, take constructive criticism, ask for advice, and still see the bright side when things fail. Trust me, you are going to go very far in life--and you will be a wonderful mom.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2001 at 1:58AM
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Aww thanks thats so sweet. The reason I listened to all of you is because most of you have had experiences with your own children and children of others that I can't even imagine. I think it all fell apart for a reason. It was probably something that I wasn't prepared enough to handle.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2001 at 6:03PM
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You had a good idea, but it wasn't fully developed enough to work this time. Don't let that discourage you. You sound like a nice young lady and I am sure you will have other opportunities to babysit in your life.

Happy New Year.


    Bookmark   December 29, 2001 at 6:49PM
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As you look ahead toward this summer, you might want to check out the opportunities to work in your town's summer recreation program (if they have one--if not, ask around to see if there's one in another town). Our town offers great enrichment classes for kids ages 4 thru high school, it's a great opportunity to work with kids doing something you might not otherwise be able to do--we have elementary teachers teaching drama, juggling, something called Wiggle and Giggle, fun science, etc. I've been involved for the past 15 years and love the fact that while I'm actually a high school teacher, I get to teach cooking to elementary-aged students (Storybook Cooks is a fun literature-based class for the 5 & 6 year-olds; Kids Cook is gourmet Cooking for 3rd -6th graders). We--all of us, teachers and students--have a ball. And the pay is great--over $26/hour, so even working parttime, I'm making fairly good money.

Other good summer jobs for college students--working at a summer camp; day care centers often need extra help in the summer (and you'd gain valuable experience if you do decide to go off on your own in the field), the zoo, children's museums. Keep in mind that a 'real' job will look a little better on your employment history than babysitting or childcare will when you do finish school and go out looking. Another consideration might be whether or not your employer will let you come back to work during your winter break--DD's waitressing job ALWAYS lets the college kids come in when they're home on vacation. That's a nice 'extra' and means you don't have to scrounge each time you come home.

Good luck--I do hope you're taking up something to do with working with children. We need more caring, interested adults like you teaching our precious little ones.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2001 at 10:19AM
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I know it's all said and done, but I wanted to add in my 2 cents. Personally, I wouldn't allow my kids to go to a strangers home to stay the night. Heck, I wouldn't let them be with a stranger for 10 minutes. LOL! However, I run a daycare and you'd be suprised at the people who come over here for an interview look at my rate sheet, stay 10 minutes, ask NO questions and want to bring their kid the next day!! I just can't believe some people! However, you said these people live in the same complex, so I am assuming you are not a stranger to most of these kids! I think it's great that you were planning on doing this! It's really too bad that your plans got botched!! Maybe next year you could run an ad in the newspaper? I thought about doing this also, I told my daycare parents I would do it, but none of them took me up on it..and I was only charging $20.00!! But I guess that's the difference between LA and Indiana HA HA!! OH! One more thing, if you DO ever decide to do this again....MAKE SURE you get the money UPFRONT, don't wait til the following morning!!
Take Care & Good Luck!
You sound like an awesome person!!

    Bookmark   January 5, 2002 at 3:18AM
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