I have been babysitting since I was eleven. I have learned a lot. I am going to give you all some tips on how to be an awesome babysitter.
1. Keep a calendar (google calendar works fine) and make sure everything is scheduled perfectly. Don't ruin someone's whole night by forgetting that they scheduled you to babysit.
2. Leave your house ridiculously early and arrive on time. Depending on where the job is, I leave a half-hour to an hour early. If I get there early, I park a few blocks away and play on my phone, or go to a nearby store and buy a coffee or something. Being on time shows professionalism, care and respect.
3. Ask lots of questions. Here are some examples:
For babies: When you put them in bed and they fuss, how long until you go back in? Do you rock the baby until they are completely asleep?
Once I sat for a family whose baby was used to being nursed to sleep. He wouldn't take a bottle and I put him down and he cried. I went in on and off, but it turns out that they held him and rocked him to sleep each night. I should have asked more questions to ensure that the baby was being taken care of in a way he was used to.
For older kids: Do you lay with them until they fall asleep?
Same thing. Sleep is an important thing that everyone has a different take on. There are some things that are not my preference to do with kids, but it's important to honor the child's routine and the parent's choices.
Ask when bedtime is, what time they should eat, etc.
4. Don't let them watch ANY TV at all unless the parents specify otherwise.
If the parents don't explicitly say that it's okay to watch a movie or show, I ask. "Are they allowed to watch TV? What is their limit on it?" This goes for other screentime, too. Get explicit directions about how much TV, iPad, etc they can do.
5. Ask about snacks.
Some people are more strict about their kids eating than others. Make sure to inquire - some parents let their kids snack all night, some have clear limits.
6. Honor the parent - even if it's something you wouldn't do with your own kids.
You see, I don't LIKE to bribe kids to eat healthy by offering desert at the end, or putting kids in time-outs or having to entertain babies at all times. I have my own beliefs. However, with babysitting, I am there to honor the parent's preferences, even if it's not mine.
This is within reason, of course. I will never physically hurt a kid EVER or say something mean to them. I also avoid time outs unless they are specifically requested. In an ideal world, parents would trust my professional opinion, but that's neither here nor there.
7. Do the dishes.
Yes, do the goddamned dishes. It's not that hard. The parents will be impressed. If the dishwasher is clean, unload the dishes and reload the dirty ones. If the dishwasher is dirty, make sure there are no gross dishes in the sink and load it up. Run the dishwasher if you can figure it out.
8. Clean up as much as you can. Not deep cleaning, necessarily, but tidy up the house as much as you can. Organize the toys, etc.
9. Stay off your damn phone until the kids go to bed. Like, maybe a glance here and there, but try not to use it too much.
10. Be polite, kind and have fun.