If you are not disabled you may think that a person like me cannot babysit. Well, that is where you would be wrong. A person who is disabled can absolutely take of children. They just have a harder time with some things and may do some things differently for the safety of the child. I am going to take you through a series on how a person with Spina Bifida can do different jobs, and today we will start with babysitting.
Know your strengths and weaknesses
When you have a disability, it’s important to not volunteer to babysit a child you physically cannot handle. I personally will not volunteer to babysit a child that is either an infant or toddler because I am not comfortable with it. Why? You have to keep a closer eye on them and picking them up is a lot harder for me to do and I can’t run quickly after them in an emergency.
Babysitting an older child around the ages of seven or eight requires less physically and more socially. Sometimes the hardest thing with children at this age is entertaining. This is why I would focus on kids this age.
When I am babysitting my priority is the safety of your child. I will never do anything that is dangerous. It’s one thing to put myself in a dangerous situation but it is something else to put someone else’s child in a dangerous situation. That is just selfish and irresponsible.
Some people with a disability will let your kids play outside but I am not comfortable with it.
There are so many indoor activities that are fun without needing to have the paramedics on speed dial. No, that does mean giving your kid the TV remote and watching television all day that is just laziness.
Some activities are crafts, story time, or playing with barbies or legos. I’d make sure there were plenty of options to redirect them with for the times they were bored or wanted to go outside.
The only time I would maybe consider letting them go outside is if they were older and well-behaved. I’d also make sure it was a fenced yard with no pool so I didn’t have to worry about anyone drowning. Chances are if they did fall in I wouldn’t be able to save them. It’s just another scenario of needing to understand what you’re capable of to ensure everyone’s safety.
Picking up a child is sometimes an important part of babysitting. When not done correctly it can cause injuries. If you walk with crutches, I wouldn’t advise you pick up a child while standing up.
Many people with crutches own a wheelchair so I would recommend, you bring that to house you are babysitting at. If you can’t pick that kid up in a safe way you shouldn’t be babysitting. If you are unsure of how to hold a child properly my advice is maybe take a childcare class first that teaches safety.
You need to keep a careful eye on young kids so they don’t do anything dangerous because kids will be kids. It’s especially important when you’re disabled and can’t move as quickly as an abled person. If you’re watching a child that is learning how to walk make sure there out that can cause them to fall and hurt themselves. If that happened it would be your fault because you are in charge.
When you have to take care of something, like making a meal, it can be difficult to keep an eye on the child. What do you do? You put them in an area where you can see them that way you know if they are doing anything dangerous. When my sister was little she put a key in the electric socket she only did once it only takes one time for something unfortunate to happen. You always have to keep an eye on young kids because they will do dumb stuff.
As long as the proper precautions are taken disabled people are just as capable of keeping kids safe as abled people.
Cooking and Cleaning
How does a person with Spina Bifida actually cook a meal? We might cook something for your child using the microwave depending on how comfortable we are using it. If the microwave was too high up we would probably stick to making a sandwich or salad of some kind. Another option is to prepare the meal at home before going to the house you’ll be babysitting at so you’ll be ready beforehand.
I personally don’t like to use the stove unless it’s absolutely necessary. When I do, I take the necessary precautions. I have taken three cooking classes, so I am very familiar with safety in the kitchen. Some disabled people aren’t comfortable with that, which is totally fine. My rule of thumb is don’t do something if you aren’t comfortable with it. That is how accidents happen.
Cleaning can be a challenge. For things like toys, you can turn it into a game to encourage kids to clean up after themselves. As far as cleaning up messes from the kitchen or bathroom, it helps to ask the owners where the supplies are ahead of time to make sure they’re in an accessible location for you.
Cleaning may take you longer but leaving a bunch of mess for the parents is rude and might lead to you not getting rehired. A good tip for cleaning is to clean as you go. Don’t try to do it all at once. You’ll get too tired and young kids will make it difficult. Young kids tend to take stuff out as you put them away, so cleaning as you go is a good strategy.
Not every disabled person is able to babysit this way, this is just how I would do it. The most important thing is safety always comes first! You are in charge and if anything happens to that child you will be held responsible. If anything does happens, you need to take responsibility. Accidents do happen but avoid situations that put yourself or the child in harm’s way.
If you have questions while you are babysitting you can always call the child’s parents and I am sure they will answer your questions. If you have any questions regarding babysitting while being disabled, please leave them in the comments below!
Life with Spina Bifida is a personal blog that is all about my life with a disability, chronic pain as well as encouraging hope and positivity for those who are suffering. You are not alone!