Most people think babysitting is just for high schoolers looking to make extra cash on the weekend and that there is no particular skill or talent involved. The babysitter just needs to be older than twelve and responsible enough to get the children to bed at a decent hour. Of course these elements are important, but babysitters are so much more, in fact, they can also be an important part of a child’s development. This is especially true if the child sees their babysitter with some frequency, like during the summer. If the babysitter’s only tactic for entertaining the children that they are babysitting is to sit them down in front of the television or to play video games then those children are missing out on some valuable learning time. This does not mean to say that a babysitter should create lesson plans, but rather that a babysitter should be willing to take the children out of the house; to the pool, take the dogs for a walk, ride a bicycle, or just into the backyard. This is true all year by the way, not just during the summer months; just remember that everyone needs to bundle up for the weather. Being outside is not only healthy, but it is also a great opportunity to learn about the world and to interact with others. In the event that you can’t go outside for whatever reason, or you run out of ideas, there is always the option to dip into the babysitter bag.
What is a babysitter bag? A babysitter bag is something we first heard about in a class to get a babysitting certification. Think Mary Poppins’ bag, but not magical, although to the children it may take on that quality. For them, it can become a sort of game, guessing what their babysitter might pull out of the bag next. This way, there is always have a back-up plan of things to do with the children you are babysitting.
The basics to put into the bag are small board games, puzzles, an ipod with kid friendly music so you can play freeze dance/tag or musical chairs, and some age-appropriate books. Remember to rotate these so that the children don’t get bored with the bag. From there you should put in some personal touches, especially if they are children that you have gotten to know throughout time. If there are little boys who love cars, maybe some hotwheel cars and trucks, or if there are little girls who want to be princesses maybe some costume jewelry. Another fun thing to do on a nice, summer day is to bring some tie-dye paints and cheap white t-shirts. Our personal favorite, especially if you are babysitting children in your own neighborhood, is to bury treasure and make a treasure map/puzzle. If there is a park with a swing-set nearby you could even bring eye-patches and play pirate once you find your treasure.
Just because Mom and Dad are out for the day, or night, doesn’t mean that the children need to stay home and do nothing. Remember, babysitting should be fun for the babysitter too because if the babysitter is having fun so will the children!