Summer is in full swing, meaning that summer jobs are now taking up the majority of your time that you would otherwise be using to binge all of the Netflix originals you missed during the year (not that I'm complaining about the cash flow coming my way). Most of my friends work as lifeguards, waitresses, or babysitters. Personally, I fall into the latter category. I have been a babysitter for what seems like forever and I have learned what works and what doesn't for keeping kids entertained during the dog days of summer. Movie time, swimming in the pool and bike rides in the neighborhood can only entertain the kids you spend hours with for so much time. Here are my tips, tricks, and hacks to keeping kids of all ages entertained for hours.
Whether they are fresh out of the womb or 12 years old, bubbles will entertain any kid. Granted, the older they are the less time they will spend blowing bubbles and chasing after them. However, every kid will appreciate the magic of bubbles and you get to spend more time outside working on your tan. Do yourself a favor and always carry bubbles on you.
2. Obstacle Courses and Relay Races
Again, this can work for almost any age as long as they can walk. You can most likely set up an obstacle course inside or outside with things found around the house or yard. And you can easily add or take things out to change the course keeping kids entertained for hours.
Personally, I spend way too much time watching cooking shows, especially Chopped Junior. This got me thinking. If these kids on TV can create Michelin star worthy meals, why can't the kids I babysit do it too? So, I created my own version of Chopped. I choose 3-5 ingredients from the kitchen and give the kids a certain amount of time to create a meal for me which I then eat and judge. Pro tip: choose ingredients that you won't be scared to eat and always clean the kitchen up after.
4. Target Practice
All kids, especially boys, love playing with Nerf guns (if they have them). If they do and you want to avoid the possibility that they will shoot them at you all day, I recommend this activity. Grab boxes (I usually use cereal boxes) and set them up around the house or outside. Let the kids build a fort to hide behind and have them shoot down the targets with their nerf guns.
If indoors, grab some duct tape/painters tape and make big circles and little circles all over a carpeted area (If outdoors, hula hoops work great). Give the kids bean bags or stuffed animals and have them toss the object from different places to try and get them in the ring.
6. Science Experiments
Utilize Pinterest to find recipes for homemade playdough/slime or exploding volcanoes to shake things up from just baking cookies in the kitchen
7. The Nap Game
For the younger kids that are easily deceived, this game is perfect. When you're feeling a little tired and need a break from playing, tell them to play the nap game. Their challenge is to put you to bed. They'll grab blankets and pillows and then they have to "read" you a story just like you do for them when it is their nap time.
8. Ball Pit
This one requires a slide and a baby pool, so make sure you have all of these elements before proceeding. Essentially, you set up an empty baby pool at the bottom of the slide and fill it with balls of any shape and size for the kids to slide into, adding a new element to outdoor time.
9. Your Childhood Games
Some of the games you used to play as a kid probably have been forgotten and not passed down to the kids that you babysit. My kids absolutely love playing MASH (mansion, apartment, shack, house) which is a game that I played in elementary school to ~predict the future~ and have since taught to all of the kids I babysit. Cops and Robbers, Mother May I, Ghost in the Graveyard, and Red Rover are all fun ones to bring out as well.
10. America's Next Top Model
For girls of all ages, this is always a hit. Give them a category such as beach, formal, or sports and then give each girl 5 mins to create the perfect outfit. They then can choose a song to walk down the runway to. They'll model their respective outfits and then you can give them scores as if you were a real judge.