It seems, as a senior in college, all conversations somehow converge into talking about jobs. First jobs, past jobs, future jobs. One of my friends was telling me the other day about their office job. Their first job, they said, you know, apart from the babysitting and the interning in the past. You know what, there is a lot you can learn from babysitting. Why isn’t it counted as your first job. Here are things I learned from babysitting that apply to the workplace as well.
Lesson #1: You cannot reason with a 5-year old. There are only 2 ways to handle them: bribery or spanking. The latter is not socially acceptable in the States. In the workplace, never underestimate the power of…negotiation (it’s not bribery per se, but it has the same end goal)
Lesson #2: Always ask which kid is allergic to what, is allowed to do what and will respond how to what. Not all kids will tell you they’re allergic to this or that when you’re the one cooking, or sharing treats. Always ask questions. It’s better to be known as the newbie who asks a lot of questions than the new employee who broke the $50,000 machine because she couldn’t find the Off button.
Lesson #3: You don’t have to impress kids. By virtue of being older, you’re already cool. “Wow, you have a driver’s license? Wow, you go to college! You’re so amazing!” Granted, your first few months (or years) will be spent trying to impress your superiors, you’ll be doing it by “doing”, not “saying”. After having dazzled them during the interview rounds with your amazing accomplishments, they probably want you to shut up about it. No one will probably be impressed about your amazing days in college. Show them what you can do. Don’t tell them.
Lesson #4: Be interested and listen. If the kids you’re babysitting have known you for a while and trust you (and they’re the talking type…pre-middle school ages, sometimes later), they probably want to talk your ears off. Suddenly, that story about the thing that happened yesterday in Language Arts is the most interesting ever. Their version of the who-likes-you-who-hates-you is very fascinating. Even though it’s sometimes easier to tune them out, listen. Ask questions. Be interested. Kids notice. Working with others is more than the work being done. It’s also about the inter-relationships, it’s about the interrelationships, it’s about conversation and coming to agreement. Sometimes, people will open up to you…whether you’ve asked them to or not. Be interested. Ask questions. Watch the body language. Listen. You just might learn something about yourself, or the person, or the job, or future opportunities, or a once-in-a-lifetime chance…who knows.
Lesson #5: (This one is one of my mom’s favorite advice to give.) Always leave the place a little better than you found it. Watch the face of the over-worked mother or the couple coming in from a meeting/movie to see that not only are the kids tucked in, but the dishes are done and the carpet has been vaccummed. Even if they don’t pay you extra, they appreciate it. The workplace is about the little details. the presentation. How you leave your mark on every project/assignment/task. Even if no one ever tells you they appreciate it, trust that they do. At least, you yourself can take pride in it.
Those are 5 lessons from Babysitting. Go ahead, you can tell someone that babysitting was your first job. I probably will from now on.
What lessons have you learned from babysitting?