Tips for Babysitting Kids and Pets

By Kaitlin Hurtado on October 30, 2021

When it comes to babysitting, there’s always one thing you can expect — the unexpected. Every family is different, and every family will have different needs from their babysitter. If you’ve had experience babysitting for several different families, you are already well aware that every babysitting experience is unique. One family may expect you to clean around the house as you watch over your children, another may expect you to shuttle children around to their various extracurricular activities, or in some cases, they’ll ask you to babysit their kids as well as their family pets.

If you’re an animal lover, it may sound like a sweet gig – you’re getting paid to do your job and spend some quality time with cute kids and animals. However, being tasked with babysitting kids and family pets at the same time can be an unexpected challenge. While kids can already be full of unexpected surprises, pets will also come with their own surprises, from bathroom incidents to behavioral issues. If you are going to work a job where you are expected to babysit kids and pets at the same time, keep reading for some helpful tips to make your job easier.

Photo: Pexels

Understand the relationship between the kids and pets

Before you begin babysitting, it is essential that you understand the relationship between the kids and pets. Do they spend plenty of time unsupervised, or are all interactions supervised by an adult? If the kids you are babysitting are on the younger side, they may not fully grasp how to interact safely with animals yet. If that’s the case, you are likely going to have to spend more time keeping a close eye on any interaction between the two parties.

Is the animal a new addition to the family — are they trained to be around the child or left on their own? The easiest job would be watching over a well-trained dog that can be left unattended for hours, however, that’s not always the case. The dog may not be fully trained or may require your attention while you are babysitting the kids. Make sure you communicate with the parents so you are aware of any issues or house rules to be alert of.

- Are the dogs crate-trained? Is there a certain schedule you need to adhere to?

- Are the dogs not allowed in certain spaces (on beds and couches, in the kitchen, etc.)?

- Can the dogs get treats from you or the kids?

- Is there any training or behaviors you are expected to reinforce?

Warm up to the kids and the animals

As with any babysitting job, the children may not warm up to you right away. The same thing can apply to any pet. In fact, you may be dealing with kids and pets that are both wary of a stranger in their home while their parents and owners are away. Try to establish yourself with both parties. It may take some time or a few babysitting shifts, but remember that you may encounter some behavioral issues as they regard you as a complete stranger.

Plan activities that allow you to keep an eye on everyone

This may be a bit tricky depending on how much the children and pets can interact, or what house rules are in place, but try to plan activities that allow you to keep a close eye on everyone. It may be easy to have the kids watch cartoons on the TV while the dogs run around in the yard, but having everyone in separated spaces will leave either the child or pet unattended and open the door for some problems. That being said, make it easier for yourself and plan it so you can keep an eye on everyone.

If you’re babysitting for a family that has an outdoor space, your job will be easier. The dogs can have their own space to run around under your watchful eye. You can set up an activity for the kids, from swimming in the pool to creating a mini arts and crafts station outdoors.

If the family you are babysitting for doesn’t have ample outdoor space, plan a trip to the neighborhood park or take a walk around the neighborhood. This may not be the best idea if you are babysitting younger children who aren’t able to walk on their own, or if you are watching multiple dogs that you need to leash up. However, if the kids are older and you’re watching a well-trained pup, why not take the opportunity to keep both parties entertained while you can keep a close eye on both?

Babysitting kids and pets at the same time can sound like quite a daunting job. Not only are you expected to watch over the kids and keep them safe and entertained, but pets throw an entirely different element into the job. With these tips in mind, you can better equip yourself to keep an eye on the kids and pets.

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