Why not solve the babysitter anxiety issue with a pre-planned special activity reserved for that evening? Talk it up (but not too much) and be sure it’s not something you’ve done before. It can be a fun craft project, recipe, or a new toy kept hidden away until that night. Here are a few ideas…
1) Make Play Dough
This is easy enough and your kids will love the process as well as the result. Try the cook or no-cook kind.
Cooked Play Dough Recipe
2 cups flour
3 tbsp cream of tartar
1/2 cup salt
4 tbsp oil
1/2 cup boiling water
Mix dry ingredients together. Mix oil, food coloring and boiling water in a separate container. Stir liquid mixture until cool enough to knead. Knead until smooth. If play-dough is too dry, add more water, a little at a time. If play-dough is too crumbly, knead in a small amount of oil. Store in an airtight container.
No-Cook Play Dough
4 cups flour
1 cup salt
4 tbsp oil
1 and 1/2 cup water
Mix oil and food color together before adding to dry mixture. Mix until pliable. Keep in container or plastic bag.
2) Make Lemonade
Whether you want to actually put up a stand is debatable, but making and tasting the lemonade is always fun. Depending on the number of children, you’ll need anywhere from four to 16 lemons. You can figure four per child. You’ll also need cold water, sugar, and a pitcher.
If you have a citrus squeezer, it’s much easier. Kids can do the squeezing on their own, though toddlers might need a little help. Once you’ve got an ample amount of juice in the pitcher, add some cold water and then start with spoonfuls of sugar. Have the kids taste the lemonade after each sugar addition. Note how much sugar it takes to make it palatable. (This could serve as a good lesson on the perils of juice in general.) Once it’s satisfactory, give everyone a cup full of ice, and enjoy the fruits of your labor! Lovely on a hot summer day.
3) New Toy/Game/Art Supplies
As the weather warms up, croquet is fun and easy for little ones. Get an inexpensive set at your local toy store and have the sitter set it up on the grass or even at the park. Toddlers and school-age kids will get a kick out of trying to get the ball through the small wickets. Just don’t let them use the mallets on each other!
A new coloring book and crayons or markers can go a long way. Don’t you remember the smell and lovely pointy-ness of a new box of crayons? Pick out a coloring book featuring his or her favorite character (Dora, Mickey Mouse) and you won’t go wrong.
Kids love anything with water. In the summer, fill the baby pool up and let kids splash. Or try a Slip ‘N Slide. In winter, fill the tub with bubbles and new sand toys (they work just as well in water) and let them go to town. Just be sure to instruct your sitter to be extra-vigilant when playing with water.
A new sitter can be fun and a nice break from the norm. Embrace it!