As a self-proclaimed babysitter extraordinaire, I've had to come up with many new ways to keep kids occupied when babysitting over the years. Babysitting is a great way to make some extra money, and can even be pretty fun (depending on how well-behaved the kids are, of course!). Regardless of the temperament of the kids, its good to have some fun ways to keep kids occupied when babysitting under your belt.
1. Free Programs
One of the best ways to keep kids occupied when babysitting is to look up local free programs in the area. In the summertime especially, many local cities publish details of kid-friendly activities in periodicals or online that help keep kids busy and caregivers from going a little nutty! Last summer, I took the kids I sat for to story times, child yoga classes, and outdoor games, all for free!
2. Lemonade Stand
This may seem like a "been-there-done-that" kind of activity, but planning and executing a lemonade stand takes quite a bit of time, so it's a great time-filler for those long days of babysitting. Help the kids make the signs, set up the stand, make the lemonade (and goodies like cookies if you're feeling optimistic) and help them sell! This was such a big hit last summer and I honestly couldn't believe how much money the kids made. Lemonade stands teach kids responsibility, business (truly), and how to count money, and that hard work pays off.
3. Freeze Dance
One great form of entertainment for both the babysitter and the kids is to have a dance party and put some music on, but make a game out of it by pausing the music suddenly and having the kids "freeze". The object is to stay perfectly still and not lose balance or move any part of the body after the music has stopped, or else you're "out". Of course, if there's only two kids, you can keep playing and not actually omit anyone from the game, and instead administer points.
4. DIY Bakery
Kids love baking (at least every set of kids I've sat for.) Baking can be a lot of fun, especially if you teach the kids about the measurements and let them pour everything in so they feel like they're truly helping. Of course, as the babysitter, you'll need to step in for the more dangerous steps such as using the oven and handling hot pans, but leave the stirring, pouring, and spoon-licking to the kids.
5. Movie Night
Any old babysitter can put a movie on the television and call it a night, but make it a more fun experience by creating a fort out of blankets and pillows, making some popcorn and drinks (like soda floats or chocolate milk), and creating your own mini movie theatre.
6. Greeting Cards
One of the best ways to get the kids' creative juices flowing is to get out all of the markers, construction paper, stickers, and stencils, and have the kids make cards for their parents for when they get home later. The parents love it and so do the kids!
7. Tie Dye
This one can get pretty messy, so be sure to be on high alert throughout this activity. Kids should be equipped with either old clothes or smocks, and rubber gloves to protect them from the dye. Kids can either dye old white shirts, socks, bed sheets, etc., or you can pick up a package of plain white tees at the store. Be sure that the parents are OK with you dying items that the kids already own, and that you rinse the finished products well after they've dried so no dye rubs off or ruins other clothes when they're put in the wash.
Babysitting can be a challenge, but if you plan out activities ahead of time and make sure they're fun and interactive, the time will pass by much more smoothly. These activities are kid-friendly, tried-and-true, as well as inexpensive. Do you have any fun activities to do with kids while babysitting?