Jobs are as important for our characters as they are for real people. A character’s career might be their dream job or one they’ve chosen due to necessity. In your story, they might be trying to get that job or are already working in the field. Whatever the situation, as with any defining aspect for your character, you’ll need to do the proper research to be able to write that career knowledgeably.
Enter the Occupation Thesaurus. Here, you’ll find important background information on a variety of career options for your character. In addition to the basics, we’ll also be covering related info that relates to character arc and story planning, such as sources of conflict (internal and external) and how the job might impact basic human needs, thereby affecting the character’s goals. It’s our hope that this thesaurus will share some of your research burden while also giving you ideas about your character’s occupation that you might not have considered before.
Overview: A babysitter will watch over children while their parents are away from the home, ensuring the children are safe, cared for, and that they follow the rules of the household. Children may be awake or asleep during the time the babysitter is in the home, which will dictate what sort of activities a sitter will engage in. Typically a sitter will play with the kids while they are awake (playing games, watching movies, taking the kids to a local park, etc.) as well as prepare easy meals, read stories, and get the children ready for bedtime. Occasionally they may be asked to perform a few menial chores (washing the dinner dishes or straightening up a playroom after the children go to bed). Babysitting is typically done by responsible teenagers or those of college age to supplement other income such as an allowance or a part time job.
Necessary Training: This type of work can be done without any training or certification, although there are programs available that teach youth their responsibilities when babysitting and to guide them in a series of possible situations to help them problem-solve and know what to do in emergencies. Many parents insist their sitter does have a babysitting course under their belt and be a specific minimum age to mind their children. Most provinces or states will also have a legal age for babysitting (or at least provide guidelines for when a child can be left without parental supervision, which may also have a limitation on the span of evening hours alone). Typically parents will interview a potential babysitter and get a feel for who they are, their experience, their attitude toward kids, and whether they have completed a babysitting course or have any first aid training before hiring. Depending on location and availability, some parents may struggle to find a sitter and so may need to offer greater financial incentives to obtain someone to watch over their kids, or they may engage a retired neighbor into child-minding.
Useful Skills, Talents, or Abilities: basic first aid, charm, empathy, enhanced hearing, enhanced sense of smell, gaining the trust of others, haggling, making people laugh, reading people, swift-footedness, throwing one’s voice
POSITIVE: Adaptable, adventurous, affectionate, alert, calm, charming, confident, creative, diplomatic, easygoing, friendly, imaginative, independent, mature, nurturing, obedient, observant, persuasive, playful, responsible, spontaneous, spunky, tolerant, whimsical, wise
NEGATIVE: controlling, know-it-all, paranoid
Sources of Friction: kids who don’t respect the babysitter’s rules or authority, kids with parents who are lax with discipline and so act spoiled, demanding and entitled, discovering something disturbing (such as signs of abuse, illegal activities, or drug use within the home), learning a family secret through something a child says, house guests who show up unannounced, trying to reach a parent in an emergency but being unable to, one of the children growing violent, kids sneaking out or trying to run away, kids trying to do something dangerous such as starting a fire with matches or playing with a kitchen knife, parents who don’t come home when they say they will (disrupting the babysitter’s schedule), parents who underpay, the babysitter’s friends who show up unannounced and expect to hang out (without securing a parent’s okay first), parents who demand a list of chores are completed upon return, parents who have grounded the kids from certain activities that will make the time pass easier (No TV, no computer time, not allowed to play outside in the yard, etc.), an emergency (an injury, a power outage, a lost child, a break-in, etc.)
People They Might Interact With: parents, older siblings of the kids one is babysitting, neighbors, police
How This Occupation Might Impact One’s Basic Needs:
- Esteem and Recognition: a character who is in a different financial situation than those one is babysitting may struggle with feelings of inferiority or shame when comparing what one’s family has to what another family’s has, especially if the babysitter is close in age to one of the children in the house)
- Love and Belonging: A character who lacks strong family connections (perhaps a turbulent home life) may struggle being around a family that contains tight, loving bonds, as being exposed to a nurturing close family only increases the contrast to what is missing in one’s own family
- Safety and Security: If the family the character is babysitting for lives in an area where the home may be targeted (either because it is in a high crime neighborhood or the wealth of the neighborhood attracts a criminal element) they may be in danger if someone attempts a break-in or home invasion
Common Work-Related Settings: backyard, basement, child’s bedroom, kitchen, living room, nursery, patio deck, playground, run-down apartment, teenager’s bedroom
Twisting the Fictional Stereotype: In fiction and film, babysitters are often female, but this is a job either sex might be drawn to in order to make some extra income, so if you have a male character needing a bit of extra funds, consider this job for something fresh.
Visit the other Occupations in our collection HERE.