Angel Karen: "The universal language is playing"

Angel Karen with kids

It's time to meet Babysitting Angel Karen! We’re getting to know her in this interview, which is actually taking place while she’s babysitting. How ironic! Learn more about Karen, her experience, and why she loves babysitting so much.

Hi Karen! So, you're babysitting right now?

“Hello! Yes, I just put the baby to bed! He went straight to sleep, so it should be quiet for a little bit. If not, I will let you know, haha.”

Fantastic! Can you tell me more about yourself?

“Sure. I’m Karen Kilwake from Kenya, and I have been living in the Netherlands since 2021. I came here for my Master’s in Development Studies, with a focus on Children and Youth. When I just arrived here, a friend said, ‘I know just the perfect thing for you, since you love children!’ and introduced me to Charly Cares. She was so right!"

"I have always had a passion for working with children. In Kenya, I have also always worked with children. When I was a little younger, I worked for Compassion, a charity that helps children in poverty. There I worked as a volunteer during vacation programs. I also worked for an organization that helped orphans and gave training to young people on how to work independently in society. Just before coming to the Netherlands, I was also working as a Child Protection Officer."

Karen babysitting two kids

Lots of experience; sounds good! How do you like babysitting in the Netherlands now?

Karen babysitting family

“Now I babysit for some English-speaking families, but when I started babysitting, it was for a Dutch family. That was quite interesting because the two girls did not speak any English. However, they actually picked up some English, and sometimes we just used a translation app when we really needed it. I also babysit for an Arabic family; these children also cannot speak English with me. We use a translation app sometimes too, and that works just fine. It has been really interesting to experience different languages. But I learned: the universal language is playing. When you’re playing, language doesn't even matter that much, and you can have so much fun together. As long as I can see that the kids are happy, I’m happy too.”

That’s so interesting. And do you still meet new families?

“I babysit every Friday for a family where I used to come 3 days a week. Now that the kid has grown, he goes to daycare, so I babysit there once a week now. But I found enough other families: one on Monday with 2 young kids, another one on Wednesday with 2 older kids, and then there are 2 more families where I babysit regularly after school until they come home from work. But sometimes they ask me to babysit on weekends too, which is fun!”

What do you enjoy the most while babysitting?

“My absolute favorite thing to do is art, like painting and drawing. But it depends on the age; when I’m babysitting young kids, I love doing little memory games or playing with blocks. When the weather is nice, I prefer to go to the playground, animal farm, or walk around the city. Another one of my favorite activities is going to the children’s book museum because there is a play area, and they can meet other kids.”

Angel Karen at child's book museum

Sounds so fun! Do you also have experience with parents booking a babysitting for the very first time?

“Yes, they usually want to have a trial booking first to see if the kids and I will get along. But that’s also a challenge, I think, because kids often just need some time to get used to someone. I think you need to spend some time playing and laughing so they see they can trust you. I had that experience with the kid I’m babysitting right now. He was crying so much the first time I came here. But now, we are best friends! He smiles when he sees me, he’s happy all the time. So I understand parents want to try it out first, but you can’t always judge it by the first time.”

Thank you so much for this, Karen. Enjoy babysitting today!

“No problem and I sure will!”

Are you our next Angel in the spotlight?

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