Ask Elle--Adventures in Babysitting

Monthly I answer a question from a reader seeking advice on just about anything. Have a question you'd like advice on? Email me or leave me a comment. 

This month's question is something I absolutely love & have tons of experience with: watching kids!
Johanna asks [edited for space], "Dear Elle, My sister is bringing her kids for me & my hubby to watch for the day. They're two boys, 5 & 7. I'm not really a 'kid person' and my sis knows this. I don't have stuff for them to play with. What do I do?"

  • Kid-proof the house. Is there anything that you don't want broken? Hide or move it. Is there anything sharp? If need be, get on their eye-level and see what they could get into. If you're watching them closely (and I'd assume you would be) you should be fine.
  • Plan meals/snacks. Usually the parent(s) will provide food. If not, find out any dietary restrictions/allergies and plan accordingly for meals/snacks.
  • Find out their schedules. Is there a nap involved? Will you need to bathe them? Do they need to take medicine?
  • Plan activities. Will they be bringing some toys? If not, here are some tips: Kids love to help. I've even had kids help me fold laundry before (hey, they loved helping me).I also recommend keeping cake/cookie/brownie mix on hand for the kids to help make. Yes, you can make these healthy. Have them help you set the table or help with the meal. I suggest help activities, craft activities, and lots of playing activities. This site has plenty of ideas.   
  • Craft with them. You'd be amazed how easily kids are entertained with glitter and glue. Whip out some tin foil, crayons or newspaper and stand back to see what can they can come up with. You don't need any special crafting materials: just see what you have around the house. 
  • Play with them. Remember, they're there to see you, not to be left in front of the tv. I know attention spans are so much shorter, thanks to the fast-paced phenomenon of computers & video games. However, in reality it doesn't take a lot to entertain kids. Play sports if they like that. Turn on the tunes and dance. Have a video camera? Put on a show! Make a fort in the living room. Play hide and seek. Read to them (no kid-appropriate material? Look for online versions of books). Play games--Uno is an easy game, for example.
  • Field trip. If you've run out of ideas, and you have permission/ability to do so, take a drive. Go to the zoo, aquarium, children's museum, park, drive to the country, a sporting event, or grab a meal.
  • Relax and have fun. I hope the time flies by and that you guys have an absolute blast!
I can't wait to hear how well it goes!
What would you tell Johanna when it comes to babysitting?

PS--Love Week is coming soon. I'm doing my regular posts (outfits, makeup, ask elle, parties, diy etc) but they'll be love-themed. Anything you'd like to see?


  1. I love the idea of answering advice, how fun!

  2. I'm not much of a kid person either, but ALWAYS got stuck babysitting...why is that? jehe

  3. Great advice.

    I really like the part about playing with them.

    Over the weekend my niece came over. We played & shopped and hung out. She just turned 5 and ofcourse she wanted to watch TV, she watched it with mini-me BUT we spent time together. It's all about making them feel important:)

  4. Great advice!! They need constant activities to keep them busy! When I hang out with my nephews for a bit, I am soooo happy when they finally go home. Not because I don't love them to pieces, but it's a big change of pace for me :)

  5. I love all your ideas:) Have a fantastic day, darling

  6. This is so fun! I wish I had a babysitter like you here!

  7. Good ideas! I agree the kids are there to play, not zone out in front of the TV. Crafts, games, indoor and outdoor time, or a trip to the movies with ice cream after should go over huge.


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