Teens in the Real World
  Food Allergies in the Real World  


Let's face it. Money doesn't grow on trees, or out of your mom or dad's wallet, for that matter. If you are looking for ways to earn a bit of spending money, chances are you've considered babysitting. After all, it's flexible, it's fun, and there is no uniform or hairnet required!

But what if you have a food allergy? Not to worry — the tips below will help you get started out on the right foot.

How many children and what age range can you handle?

You may decide that you should only babysit one child at a time or only babysit children over a certain age.

What hours are you available?

Think about whether working certain hours will be more likely to have an effect on your food allergies. For example, if you plan to babysit during dinnertime, you may need to bring your own food with you. You'll also want to be sure you won't have to cook or serve the food to which you are allergic. Perhaps you'd prefer to babysit in the evening, after meals are finished.

Their house or yours?

Decide where you will be most comfortable babysitting. Some teens just starting to babysit feel more comfortable if they "practice" at home first, with an adult nearby for support, if needed. If you decide that you'd like to offer babysitting services from your home, make sure that you talk it over with your parents first.

Will you be babysitting alone or with a friend?

Some teens choose to work in pairs when babysitting. If you decide to do this, choose a friend that knows about, and understands, your food allergy. Ideally, your friend should know how to recognize the symptoms of a reaction and how to help you in the event that you have a reaction.

Ask Questions

If it helps, keep a notebook and write down important questions to ask, so you will not forget anything. Some ideas of questions to ask include:

Emergency Phone Numbers

Some teens keep their emergency contact information listed on a laminated, business-size card. Keep copies of such a card next to the telephones in the house. Make sure you also keep the address and phone number of the house you are staying at next to the phone, as well.

Practice Makes Perfect

Consider a "practice" round or two with the family before babysitting solo. You may want to arrange to spend a few hours with the family on the weekend so that you can learn one another's needs.

Sign Up for Additional Training

Check with a local community center to find out if it offers babysitting classes. The Red Cross offers a babysitting course designed to teach young people how to supervise children and handle common emergencies. For more information, visit their website at www.redcross.org

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