Summer Jobs: Child’s Play

The Tab’s guide to making money looking after kids.

babysitting Blue Tutors Camp Lokanda Delaware Sharky and George

Looking after kids is varied and fun, but exhausting work.  Though traditionally it has always been work for women, more and more families, especially those with sons are keen for men to help out.  According to the Office of National Statistics in 2009 there were 192,000 house husbands, compared with 119,000 16 years before representing the relaxing of traditional family values.  Put simply, looking after kids is often readily available cash in hand work it would be worth us all having a think about.  

Babysitting or nannying

Pros: With notes put into your hand on the doorstep there is no worry of tax for those high earners.  It is flexible as you can accept the jobs you want and most of the time you are being paid to watch tv. 

Cons: Kids will be kids, and while for fleeting moments you will love the little scamps more often than not it's a long day spent cursing your fertility and googling tranquiliser guns.  And being a 'bad babysitter', just doesn't get you asked back.  

It is very easy to arrange yourself while all the agencies I came across demand a minimum of two years full time experience.  Dealing with a baby cousin at the occasional family party doesn't count.  I checked.  

After years of practise at convincing mothers I am responsible, fathers I am worth a ludicrous hourly rate and children I am fun, none of which are strictly true, here is my How To Guide

Ways to make sure you get the call

1) Make leaflets and put them in every letter box – both round the corner and a ten minute walk away.  The photocopying costs will soon seem like a distant memory.  Crucially, don't just use any leaflet:

-Describe yourself as a Cambridge undergraduate and say you have lots of experience. 

-Make it look like you have made an effort – cut out a picture of a teddy bear, dig out some sequins, write it by hand, colour bits in – whatever to make it stand out.  The camper, the better.  

-Propose you can help with admin, filing, cleaning, gardening and anything else you can think of while your there.  Every family has odd tasks they want doing and you want to make sure they contact you whatever it is. 

-Any special skills? Mention them.  Anything you were good at once and could blag knowledge of to a seven year old? Mention it.  Driving is obviously helpful but so is music, painting, sports and a whole lot of other things.  

2) Yes, target rich areas of course.  But, don't be discriminate.  I say this not because I to be politically correct but because anyone with children might need childcare. 

3) Find other ways of getting your name 'out there'.  Scour the internet for local websites.  Apply to people who have advertised on Gumtree looking for help in your local area, even if you can't make the dates, they might remember your charming email sometime in the future.  Advertise in local newspapers.  Ask local schools and nurseries if you can put posters up or if they can send round an email to parents.  I've been surprised how often they say yes.  

Then when your mobile starts ringing be delightfully charming and take the job if you possibly can.  The odds are they won't call you back if you don't say yes the first time. 

If the kids want you to come back, the parents will call you back so be fun.  Yes, endless games are exhausting but you only have to do it enough times to make sure you are on speed dial.  

Sound a bit too much like hard work? Here are some companies that will help you find placements.  


Sharky and George is a company that organises children's parties and are looking for entertainers. 

Pros: They are looking for anyone charismatic, energetic and responsible, especially men.  The pay is an almighty £15 per hour, and they pay for travel time and the shifts you do flexible.  

Cons: The interview process for a paid job as class clown is tough.  They only offer work in London.


Blue Tutors help you find a job tutoring younger students. 

Pros: Everyone of us is eligible having begun degrees and completed A-levels or the equivalent.  You can choose what lessons you give as clients approach you and the pay starts at £15 an hour. They are trying to expand all over the country, although the company is based in London, so that's where interviews will be.  

Cons: To be listed on the site you have to teach a sample lesson and they are quieter during the summer holidays than the academic year, but you can carry on during term time once everything is set up.  

To apply click here


If you want to jump on a plane as soon as May Week ends, Camp Lokanda upstate by near by to New York State are looking for staff from 20th June to August 15th.  

Pros: As they say themselves on the website, 65% of staff return so it must be fun. You spend your days playing sports with the kids and then get transport to the staff's evening activities. 

Cons: Strict no smoking policy, curfew and other demands of responsibility.  You have to live in dorms of American kids aged 8-13. 

For more information or to apply, click here.


Campus Children's Holidays

A Cambridge student started this charity, which sends students to help out on 'activity weeks' with childern referred to it by Liverpool Social Services

Pros: Very hands on, lots of variation throughout the week and the kids are utterly mental, in the best way. Plus there's facepaint, lots of it.

Cons: Unpaid, though food and accomodation are paid for. Also a literal 24 hour/day job as you sleep in the room next to your kids and if you can't go to sleep until they a) go to sleep and b) stay asleep. Hence no sleep.

For more info see the website here, or join the mailing list (it's a university society).