a little humor.
1. Become CPR certified. Remember those days when "babysitting class" was all the rage? We're a little bit beyond that, but it's a major plus to the parents knowing you're CPR certified.
2. Get down on the kids level. If parents see you not wanting to pick up their three year old, your chances of being hired are slim to none. If little Jimmy has a new Thomas the Tank Engine toy, you better act like it's the coolest thing in the world!
3. Clean up. The rule: the house should never be messier than when the parents left. If the kids go to bed, put the dishes in the dishwasher and pick up any left out toys.
4. Bring something for the kids to do. Depending on the age, this can be really easy or more challenging. Of course, this does not apply to babies! For little kids (2-3), I bring a favorite children's book. For 5+ I bring a fun "project" or "craft." Anything from pipe cleaners to picture frames they can color. (make sure you bring the proper supplies.)
5. Do not sit the kids in front of the TV. One of the family's that I babysit for only allows the kids to watch one TV show while I'm there, which helps you keep the kids playing.
6. Show interest in the family's life. Ask when the kids' birthdays are, ask about their Thanksgiving plans, ask what sports they play. Anything.
7. Come well informed. Be sure to ask questions like: what time is bed time or is Janie allergic to anything? It's important to know these facts! Also, make sure you know where bandaids are and what acceptable snacks are.