Sometimes I keep children at my home and other times I stay with them at their home. I'm finding the latter to be the best option right now.
Right now my home isn't the most exciting place for little munchkins, unfortunately. It's a very grown up place with lots of breakable things and practically no toys.
This can help little people get bored very quickly, even if they've brought their own toys. I've observed that when children get bored they begin to roam and meddle--no matter how well-behaved or well-trained they are. Another thing I've observed about children and meddling and misbehaving is that usually they do it when they want/need attention.
Children need and thrive on attention. They need you to talk to them and to listen and pay attention when they speak to you. They need to know that they are important to you.. Many times simply stopping what you are doing and giving them attention will deal with the problem.
A lot of the boredom issue can be avoided by being prepared. Here are some suggestions I've found helpful in babysitting and watching children.
- If possible, take them outside to play or go for a walk. This helps them burn off energy and get exercise. If you want, you can turn it into something educational by making it a nature walk. You can observe and talk about different bugs and plants you see.
- Crayons, coloring books and just good 'ole plain paper can keep children occupied for a while--especially if you sit down and color with them. I remember when I was small how much fun it was to have a "big person" color with me. It was so much more fun than doing it alone. Making a card for Grandma (or whoever) from construction paper and glue is lots of fun. If you have safety scissors, most kids enjoy just cutting out shapes and gluing them onto paper.
- I try to always have a "fun" snack or meal planned. Usually what makes it "fun" is that I let the kids help me prepare it. Cookies are fast and easy and something children love to help make.
Make eating fun! :) Picnics are awesome, if the weather allows. One thing I did when I was younger and babysitting was to play restaurant at mealtime. You can let an older sibling be the "waiter" or "waitress" and have them take the "drink orders". You can even let the kids make "menus" to use. Kids love doing that kind of stuff.
One time I was babysitting for a family and the mother had set out Ramen noodles for lunch. They had a low coffee table and we decided to play "Japanese" restaurant for lunch. The kids all put on kimonos (bathrobes!) and we ate lunch sitting on pillows around the coffee table.They had so much fun that for the next several times I came we had to play Japanese restaurant for lunch.
- I realize that you can't always stop your world and play when you are babysitting children in your home. If I have kids in my home and I have things to do (such as laundry) I try to let them help me. Little kids usually find it very fun to fold wash cloths and pair socks. By doing it together, they are kept busy and you are able to get things accomplished. Children love to help and feel like they are a part of what you are doing. (Be sure to thank and praise them for helping you.)
- I generally try to use videos as a last resort only. They do work well at naptime to help little ones settle down, but I try to use them only when necessary.
EOA Link-up #17