Two times the trouble or two times the fun? If you’re a nanny for twins or have had experience babysitting twins or multiple children, then you already know how extra rewarding (and sometimes extra challenging) it can be.
No matter what it looks like, no two kids are the same and you shouldn’t treat them like they are. Whether you’re a seasoned nanny of twins or about to embark on your first job babysitting twins, we’ve got 10 tips to make your experience an enjoyable one—for all of you!
1. How Much Should I Charge for Multiples?
This is one of the most common questions caregivers have on this topic. Typically, the more kids you’re watching, the higher the rate will be. For instance, most sitters will add $1-$2 for each additional child. So if the going rate in your neighborhood is $16 an hour, you could consider charging $17-$18 for two or three.
The age or age range of the children in your care may also factor into your price. Toddlers and infants require more hands-on care, while older children can independently perform tasks like feeding themselves, getting dressed, and using the bathroom. For some sitters, more hands-on care with younger children may mean they set the rate higher.
2. Try to Meet the Kids Before Your First Sitting
It always helps when a child you’re babysitting is already familiar with you and the same goes for babysitting twins. See if you can arrange to come a little early to the babysitting job, or even stop by on a different day just to say hi and socialize with the twins while the parents are there. This shows the twins that you’ve been OK’d by their parents and establishes a foundation of trust and familiarity.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Give Them Nametags
Especially if they’re identical twins, and especially during your first couple babysitting jobs. Eventually, you’ll be able to learn which twin is which by associating their different personality traits with the right child. Plus, you won’t run the risk of disciplining Michael for running around naked when it was really John.
4. Start With the Right Activity
Choose a game or a craft that you can all be involved in. This is especially helpful to break the ice if it’s your first time babysitting a pair of twins. It will give you a good idea of how they interact with each other. Some good babysitting games to do with twins are things that involve taking turns like board games, and video games. You could also start with a game of pretend, or asking each child to show you their favorite toy, etc.
5. Minimize All Distractions
If babysitting one child presents certain safety issues, babysitting twins presents double. To babysit twins, you need to be extra-alert and full of energy. That means staying off your cell phone! Depending on the age of the twins you’re babysitting, they may or may not always be in the same room as each other. If you’re babysitting toddler twins and one wants to play in the living room while another watches TV, let them take turns pursuing their individual activities but keep an eye on both.
6. All Siblings Fight
Even twins. When babysitting multiple children who are acting up, separate them. Keep them separated until they calm down. Let one read a book while the other plays with toys, but always make sure they aren’t antagonizing or intimidating each other while your back is turned.
7. Don’t Play Favorites
Never completely ignore one of the twins if they’re acting out. They may actually need immediate attention or feel angry, upset, or jealous about something. Treat them like you’re there to hang out with them.
8. Keep Your Eyes On Both—Always
It may be near impossible to always keep the twins directly in front of you while you’re babysitting. But a good rule of thumb is to position yourself strategically so you keep both of them in your peripheral vision. If you’re doing something like changing the diaper of one twin, engage the other twin’s attention by asking them to help and hand you the ointment or a fresh diaper.
9. Always Exercise Kindness and Fairness
Regardless of how many children you’re caring for, it’s important to keep things fair when you can. Don’t give one twin a toy or sippy cup of juice if you don’t have one for the other. If there’s only one cookie left, it’s either shared or no one gets cookies. You can’t control all situations and sometimes there’s a teaching moment about not getting your way. But practicing fairness is good when it’s possible.
10. Use Naptime Wisely
When it comes to caring for multiple kids, a nanny’s work is never done. When they’re taking a nap make use of your downtime by getting snacks together or setting up the playroom with your next game. For babysitters of twins, downtime may consist of when both twins are watching the same program on TV, or when both are enjoying a snack together.