I’m a mom of four busy kids. My husband and I love to travel, but only when our bank account tells us, “Well, your house needs repairs, and you’ll soon be paying college tuition, and your kids like to eat, but sure! Take a trip and have fun! Things will work out just fine! Bon voyage!”
Over the past several years, we’ve splurged on a few trips to far-flung places and left our kids in the willing hands of my sweet in-laws. At least, they act sweet about driving 8 hours from their house to cook for and chauffer our active children. They’re really good sports, and I try to simplify the daily routine for them as best I can.
My mom and mother-in- law have incorporated some of the following ideas when they have babysat. Whether you’ve been asked to sit for a quiet evening or an entire week, here are some smart tricks to help everything go smoothly.
“Grandma’s Awesome Toy Bag” – Keep a special bag or laundry basket of your own toys. Make sure these toys are unique and cool! Collect toys, craft supplies, books, movies, or games that the kids don’t already have at home. Explain that these toys are special, and only appear when Grandma is babysitting. If you’re wondering what the best baby toys are, check out this post.
Jigsaw puzzle – Clear a space at the table and work out a puzzle. Large, intricate puzzles are great because they can be worked on over several days. You can find puzzles for any age level; they’re great for developing fine motor skills, problem solving, social skills, and self-esteem. Here are some fun puzzle ideas to try on your next visit, Candy Wrapper Puzzle 300 pieces, Marvel Avengers 500 pieces, and Tiger Family in the Jungle 1000 pieces.
Free stuff! – If you’re entertaining the kids on a budget, these ideas are worth looking into. Many public libraries loan out free passes to their patrons for local attractions, such as zoos, parks or museums. If your grandkid is an artist, use this free app (link http://www.americangreetings.com/creatacard) from American Greetings to help your grandchild create a greeting card that the company will professionally print and mail for you. All kids like to eat, and some restaurants allow kids to eat for free. Visit MyKidsEatFree.com for a list of more than 5,000 restaurants that offer free or discounted meals for kids when they are accompanied by an adult.
Craft time – Do you have a mini Captain America or animal lover running underfoot? Or maybe a tween granddaughter who loves dream catchers? Make a paper plate craft based on your grandchild’s interest. You can find 100 really easy and cute paper plate crafts here Paper Plate Crafts.
Bedtime planning committee – Sit down with your grandkids and outline their bedtime routines. What time do they go to bed? Do they take an evening bath? Do they want a story from a book, a funny story from their parent’s childhood, or one about you? Give them choices, and chart out the routine. If they’re part of the bedtime planning committee, they should be more willing participants.
Best of luck in your adventures in babysitting!