Babysitter Checklist & Ideas

Babysitter checklist & ideas for staying sane while babysitting? Learn how to keep children occupied while their parents are away.

At first glance, babysitting seems like an easy job. You get to play with children! But what happens when those children are the sort to drive you insane and are intent on destroying everything in sight before their parents come home? Here I have compiled some ideas to help you out.

Keeping Them Busy

A child who is involved in an activity of some sort will not be smashing lamps or drawing on the walls and they are easier to keep track of. Depending on the kids you are looking after, you will want to select physical activities or quieter ones.

Scavenger hunts are big hits with children of all ages. For little ones, you can draw simple pictures of what they should gather, for older ones, write out the list. Have them gather everything on the list in a set amount of time and return to you to see if they have everything. (Hint: don't put anything on the list you don't want to touch!). Reward them with a small treat of some sort for their efforts. This activity is best held outdoors where you can survey the entire yard at once.

Bring some coloring books along with you and even a new box of crayons. If you have children of varying ages, it can be difficult to keep them all happy, this will allow the younger ones to color while you deal with the older ones. And you never know, I've seen twelve and thirteen year olds sit down beside their much younger siblings and join them with the crayons!

Grab a games book next time you're at the library. Old favorites such as Duck, Duck, Goose are great if you have lots of children to watch, and some smaller ones like Blind Man's Bluff can be played easily with fewer people. Get some ideas from the book and bring them along on your jobs.

Hide and seek is a popular game that everyone knows how to play. Set limits so you won't be searching for hours for a missing kid. And even when little ones keep hiding in the exact same place, pretend you don't know where they are and act surprised to find them behind the couch . . . again!

Bring along a kid's tape, something fun and lively, like Raffi, or Sharon, Louis, and Bram. Turn the music up and start dancing around the living room. It will give them a chance to run off some energy (especially on wet days) and you can just lie down when you wear out and let them dance around you or on you!

As a very last resort, you could bring along a video the kids have never seen before. Check with their parents first, since the reason they hired you was to take care of their kids and to keep them entertained. It's always better to actually do stuff with the kids. For one, they will always like you best for having fun activities, and two, you won't be rotting their brains.

Getting Them Into Bed

Bedtime is the worst time for a babysitter. This is when the kids decide they don't have to do anything you say, because you aren't Mommy or Daddy. It can be very frustrating.

Offer a reward to the first person in their pajamas, the first person to brush their teeth and the first person in bed. It can be something small like a balloon for the next day or a small handful of raisins. I don't reccomend giving food as prizes except in extreme cases, though. Especially not after they brush their teeth, but if there is nothing else, go for something yummy, but healthy.

Tell them that you will read to them only if they are in their pajamas by a certain time. And stick to your guns. Although it will be hard, don't give in to their pleas and complaints. And next time they will be much more likely to get into bed.

Bedtime stories are a favorite. You can bring along your own books for a fun variety or read their old favorites. Make a point of reading to them only once they are in bed so you don't have to deal with getting them into bed later. If you have children sleeping in several different rooms, gather them into the most difficult child's room with their blankets and have them cosy up on the floor or bed until you are done reading.

Tell them that they can only have three call-outs. A call-out is a stall, like asking for a glass of water, or silly questions. After three, ignore them.

You might consider bringing some soft music, like Enya along and playing it once the children are in bed, to soothe them to sleep.

Make sure you ask before the parents leave, what the proper routine is for bed. Children are creatures of habit and if you break their routine, it can really disrupt bedtime.

Good luck!

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