I began babysitting when I was around nine years old. I babysat for a Mormon family that lived across the street. At the time I started babysitting for them, they had 5 children. (They stopped at 8.) I was actually friends with the oldest, so really we were a team when it came to watching the younger ones. Nine seems pretty young...but my mom was right across the street and would come over, if we needed her, in an instant. And one time we did need her when the baby had a VERY messy diaper. Yikes. It was awful.
I babysat for them often until we moved when my dad's job relocated. I was 10. We moved into a brand new neighborhood with lots of families and lots of kids. And I became the neighborhood babysitter. When I was 13 I had a regular babysitting job two or three days a week after school. I'd go over right after school and stay until the dad got home around 9 o'clock or so.
I also babysat on the weekends for other families. Sometimes more than one family at once. I definitely kept busy. I always had money stashed in my tea tin. And quite a bit of it for a 13 year old.
The summer before 10th grade I wanted to make a little extra so I asked my parent's if I could host a day camp type thing in our garage a couple of days a week. They said yes, listed out a couple of hard and fast rules like no kids in the backyard, ever, because of the pool and clean up your own mess and gave me the go-ahead. I agreed, assured them I'd be responsible and Fun School was born.
I made flyers and mom took me to have them photocopied. I rode my bike around the neighborhood and hand delivered the flyers to all of the moms I babysat for...Fun School, Tuesday and Thursday from 10-12, crafts, games and snacks provided. $1 per hour. (What a deal, eh?)
I went to the library and got books full of kids' craft ideas. I made "lesson plans" and organized craft supplies. I covered a coffee can to collect payment. I planned snacks of cookies, popsicles, fruit or peanut butter on crackers and always a big pitcher of kool aid to be served in Dixie cups. Then when the time came I dragged the picnic table into the garage with the help of mom or dad, set up our supplies, hung the poster-board Fun School sign and I was open for business.
To my delight just about all of the mom's brought their kids at one time or another. The picnic benches would be full of little kids making things, singing songs and learning a little something and my coffee can would be full of dollar bills.
Depending on the craft I'd either supply what we needed or I'd have the mom's send a thing or two in with their kids. I'd hand write a note to send home with each child letting mom know what we needed for the next week...egg cartons, newspaper, yarn, popsicle sticks, tin cans, toilet paper rolls...whatever it might be. And the mom's were always willing to oblige.
We planted beans in Dixie cups and watched them grow. We made instruments using toilet paper rolls and dried beans. We made masks using paper plates.We made our own games...I remember a fishing game with paper fish, yarn and bent paper clips. We made pencil holders by gluing yarn around a tin can. We dyed macaroni and strung it on yarn. Whatever it was, they left with something creative every time.
Fun School is such a good memory...I'm grateful that my parent's trusted me enough to allow me to host such a thing in our garage. And I'm grateful to the parent's who trusted me enough to leave their children with me. I was talking to someone a while back whose children remembered coming to Fun School...that made me happy. It was a win-win...the kids had fun, the mom's got a break and I made a little money.
How did you make money when you were a kid?