Chances are you’ve probably looked after little ones at one point or another during high school or college. I recently became a regular babysitter for a family during my summer break and it has opened my eyes to the importance of this experience. Babysitting exercises patience, kindness, and just about every bone in your body. Everyone should gain experience in caring for kiddos and here’s why.
Patience, Patience, Patience
Staying cool under pressure was always something that I valued. I prided myself on my patience threshold. But, babysitting truly challenged this characteristic.
You don’t fully understand patience until dealing with potato-chip scarcity fueled meltdowns or having three kids piled on top of you wanting to get piggy-back rides when they were meant to be asleep five minutes ago.
These experiences hold benefit beyond strengthening your endurance. When you’re small, everything is either the end of the world of the beginning of it. Every turn of life is exciting, confusing, or the end as we know it. This makes surrounding yourself with kids so refreshing.
Their perspective helps you realize once again the magic of life. The moments that test your patience make you see the beauty in the small things like an extra cookie after dinner. The enthusiasm of little tikes is undoubtedly contagious.
Witnessing a three-year-old’s view on the world also comes with the employment of deep compassion and understanding. Each moment is independent of the next. The idea of current dissatisfaction leading to future happiness isn’t understood quite yet.
Kindness in Understanding
We often forget the concept of ‘putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes.’ Caring for little kids undeniably puts you in another’s, much tinier, shoes.
You’re thrust into past memories of both incomparable excitement and its complete antithesis associated with the tiniest of moments. As an adult, seeing a butterfly isn’t an exhilarating occurrence, or often even noticed. But for little ones, it’s a door into another world. A magical place of pretty colors fluttering around.
Then the butterfly leaves, or we can’t chase it anymore, and all hell breaks loose. It’s the end of the world and a personal offense that this butterfly is leaving. It’s easy to just bark things like, “because I said so” or “stop doing that,” but these seemingly tiny issues are a big deal to this child.
If you were in distress or asked to do something and someone threw those commands at you, that wouldn’t go over well would it? Well, children are people too. They’re people now, not when they’re older, now. Explain to them why things must happen. Break it down. Evaluate your own logic in the process.
Using the aforementioned scenario, explain the butterfly has to go home, just like the child does. Answer their concerns, balancing reason and compassion.
Such moments of compassion and understanding extend into all other parts of your life as well. You become able to see the world from another’s point of view with ease.
All Hail Mothers & Fathers
After spending enough time with a child, you experience the full spectrum. The meltdowns, hugs, screams, kisses, boo-boos, and giggles. You question how parents can maintain a sound mind and functioning body, caring for children 24/7. Soon you wonder, do parents eat a full meal ever again once their children are born? Does non-animated TV exist anymore? Is there ever not a crumb on the floor or a remote smooshed between the couch cushions?
The small worries you thought you would maintain as a caretaker such as matching shoes or a spotless home readily become unrealistic. Every mother or father has now earned even greater respect than before. This is their full time gig, not just evenings and some weekends.
Caring parents are the real superheroes of this world.
Responsibility & Reward
Watching over small children requires responsibility on many fronts. You need to keep them safe, healthy, entertained, and live intentionally for they mimic all you say and do.
Every noise becomes a possible threat warranting possible protection. Walking through a parking lot has become more stressful than ever before, requiring a chain of linked-hands and eagle-eyes. Anything small is a choking hazard and the world has more sharp corners than you remembered.
Your words will certainly be repeated back to you, so watch what you say. Watch what you do even closer.
While babysitting comes with its stressors, it’s easily the most rewarding side-job out there. Developing relationships with kids and watching them grow and learn is amazing. You see the beauty in the world and what really holds value. Life’s excitement grows alongside your love for everything in it.