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Page history last edited by RichiesPicks 10 years, 7 months ago

04 March 2004 THE WHAT TO EXPECT BABY-SITTER'S HANDBOOK by Heidi Murkoff with Sharon Mazel, Workman, January 2004, ISBN 0-7611-2845-X


I had two distinct careers as a baby-sitter:


First, there were those years during which I took care of my younger brother and sister while my parents went out on Saturday nights. Since we did not always get along when left alone together, I was required to remain down in the basement where my bedroom was located, while they were instructed to stay upstairs where their bedrooms were. (This system actually worked quite well.)


Then, there were those evenings that I hopped the back fence to go take care of the trio of Porter children, two of whom have since become high-profile attorneys following in their father's footsteps. Not only was I well-compensated and treated magnificently in exchange for what was a relatively easy gig, but Mr. Porter wrote a truly exceptional recommendation to accompany my college applications and, once, got me off scot-free after I was ticketed for driving after curfew several months before turning eighteen.


It is scary how much things have changed since me 'n Ann Martin (THE BABYSITTER'S CLUB) were teenagers in the baby-sitting biz. Back then the FCC had just begun expanding beyond the original thirteen-channel television dial format in the larger metropolitan areas. There were no computers, cell phones, VCRs, cables, nanny cams, South Parks or MTVs.


"Whatdaya want, Whatdaya want, Whatdaya want to do?

Try to think of something and I will too.

Whatdaya want, Whatdaya want, Whatdaya want to do?

Try to think of something and I will too."

--Peter Alsop


"Wanna do something really neat?"

--Chris Crutcher's big brother, John


If a young adult is interested in learning the wrong way to care for neighborhood kids or younger siblings, then I highly recommend reading SILENT TO THE BONE or KING OF THE MILD FRONTIER.


But if that young person would like to build a rep as a professional, safe, fun, and even educational baby-sitter, and make some bucks in the process, then THE WHAT TO EXPECT BABY-SITTER'S HANDBOOK is the book for them to read.


Providing practical information derived from the work of Piaget and Erikson without ever once having to mention them, this compact, well-organized guide will be equally beneficial to expectant teen parents, prospective aunties and uncles, and anyone else who is interested in the down-to-earth basics of child development and a wealth of information on keeping young kids happy, healthy, and engaged.


"It's mine but you can have some

With you, I'd like to share it,

Cause if I share it with you,

You'll have some too." --Raffi


Beginning with "The Parent Connection," and "What to Expect at Every Age," the author provides a solid chapter in the areas of "Feeding," "Playing," "Going Out," " Bathing," "Sleeping," "Behavior & Discipline," "Caring for Siblings," "Baby-Sitting Basics," and "Health & Safety." Within each of these chapters Ms. Murkoff details the particulars of the various ages and stages.


She concludes the book with "Our Children, Our Home: A Fill-In Section for Parents," which allows space for parents to list particulars about their preferences and their child's likes. For instance, in the "playing with" pages, there are lines for favorite games, books, and songs, as well as television shows and videos that are permissible for the child to watch, and play date guidelines.


"In ev'ry job that must be done

There is an element of fun

you find the fun and snap!

The job's a game"

--"A Spoonful of Sugar" from Walt Disney's Mary Poppins


I am particularly impressed by the amount of focus the author devotes to communication with both the parents and with the child. I am similarly pleased with the valuable Behavior & Discipline section. And, as a former childcare professional, I am delighted with Murkoff's repeatedly providing all sorts of strategies for turning routine moments into educational experiences for the child, whether it be activities that are part of feeding, playing, bathing, or cleanup.


"She sleeps through almost any sound

Even when its screaming loud and clear

But she wakes up and smiles at a friendly voice

If it whispers softly in her ear"

--Grace Slick, "China"


Undoubtedly there are untold numbers of childcare professionals and teachers whose careers begin when they take care of neighborhood kids after school or on Friday nights. Reading THE WHAT TO EXPECT BABY-SITTER'S HANDBOOK will provide these teens with the tools they need to make their early experiences safe, fun, fulfilling, and profitable, and could thus well make all the difference in the lives of these young caregivers as well as the kids with whom they are entrusted.


Richie Partington




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