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When I was a child, most of my babysitters were college-aged women. I loved spending time with them and was even a flower girl in one of their wed­dings. Now as a college woman myself, I value the oppor­tunity to return the favor for college families.

Hillsdale stu­dents: Babysit during your college years.

A lot of pro­fessors and staff have young fam­ilies, and they’d like a night out. Babysitting is an easy way to help them out, and a great oppor­tunity to get to know your pro­fessors, staff, and their families. 

The summer after my freshman year, I stayed on campus and worked for the college’s mar­keting department. I asked my pastor to spread the word that I would still be around and would have lots of free time if any fam­ilies in the com­munity needed babysitting.

Pretty soon, I was babysitting once a week for two dif­ferent fam­ilies, among other evening gigs. Some were big fam­ilies with older kids with whom I talked about books and played Lord of the Rings or other imag­i­native games. Others were babies as young as a year old.

Although I couldn’t babysit as much once the semester started up again, I kept one weekly job and picked up other occa­sional oppor­tu­nities. This will always be a special memory from my time in college.

Babysitting is a good break from campus life. It’s time in a real home instead of a library, dorm, classroom, or at a campus event. It’s time to con­verse with people of all ages instead of just people around your own age. It’s time to slow down instead of con­stantly rushing from one task to the next over­stim­u­lating event.

Babysitting is also a way to gain perspective.

Nothing tests your patience like chasing a 2‑year-old around and around their house, or explaining to a crying child that their parents will be back soon but not until after they go to sleep. It’s a good reality check for all of us trad-wife wannabes. Taking care of children is hard.

But taking care of children is also beau­tiful. It’s so much fun to laugh and play with a child, to teach them new things, and to witness them awestruck by things we take for granted — like dan­de­lions by a sidewalk on the way to the park.

And one more perk: Some­times you get paid to do what you need to do anyway. I’m writing this at 9:50 p.m. on a Sat­urday. Sounds boring, but I am enjoying the quiet, slower night to recharge and catch up on work. And I am getting paid — because I’m giving parents a night out and kids go to sleep much earlier than we college folk do.

You may wonder how to get started. Well, reach out to your church leaders and ask them to share your infor­mation with the com­munity. Or connect with other stu­dents who babysit — like me. I will be grad­u­ating in eight months and I know some great fam­ilies who need a few good sitters.

Rachel Kookogey is a senior studying rhetoric and public address. She is the Asso­ciate Editor for the Collegian.