I figured I'd help out other sitters or new sitters by letting you in on a few of my Sitter Must Haves and my all of the exciting things I keep in my "Marry Poppins" bag :-)
My favorite bag is my large LongChamp Le Pliage. It fits a multitude of things in it while still looking cute.
Sitter Secret: It can get dirty or spilled on and still holds up!
Inside my bag always hold coloring books, colored pencils (my favorite), some candy, and movies for the kids. Once you get to know the family and kids, you can maybe bring their favorite candy bars on a special occasion or rent a RedBox movie that you know they've been wanting to see. While it does require you to spend some money, these are small investments that keep the kids happy and the parents calling.
I mentioned that I don't like to be the kind of sitter who leaves the kids to play on their own. I have a few tips to make that easier. Within reason, do what the kids want to do. If they want to color, color with them. If they want to go ride bikes, offer to walk with them so they can go farther than they'd normally be allowed. Most importantly, leave the phone in the car! Unless you've really got to call someone, there is absolutely no reason to have your phone on you and all it will do is lower your babysitter rating. Being involved with the kids and getting their approval will almost always end up getting you the parents' approval, too!
Now, my bag isn't only full of stuff for the kids! I always plan for nap times, bed times, or any other down times I might encounter. I'm always prepared with my Kindle, a notebook, notepad, and pens and pencils (and maybe some homework if I'm feeling really motivated!). Unlike playing on your phone, I feel that it's totally okay to read or write during a movie or, of course, a nap. You aren't giving off the image of being unavailable like being on the phone does. Always have some fall backs for those moments when you need to get away from the kids for a moment.
While I work, I find babysitting a fun and stress-relieving way to make money and get a taste of motherhood (which always leaves me wanting to have kids at an older and older age). It's a wonderful experience and it's awesome to get close with other families. I'm constantly thinking about how old I'll feel if I'm invited to their graduation parties or anything like that! I love being able to be a part of these kids' lives. Quite honestly, I'd consider being a nanny full time if the opportunity arose.
What are your tricks to being an awesome Sitter or Nanny?