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Build your babysitting kit

A great babysitter always arrives to sitting jobs on time, smiling and 100-percent prepared. And for my super-sitter sweeties—that’s you!—that means toting along a DIY babysitting kit sure to wow your teeny charges…and their ‘rents. It’s time to get creative and dig into your own childhood to pull together a bag full of fun surprises. Who knows? A good reference (and some extra dough) could be sittin’ at the end of the activity bag rainbow!

Pick a bag, any bag

While any bag will do, we love the idea of heading to a crafts store to grab a plain canvas bag and some decorating tools. Think: Puff paint, fabric markers, patches and other fun decorations. Jazz up your bag, but be sure to keep it kid-friendly. Rhinestones are fun, but if they fall off, they could become choking hazards for tots.

Consider house rules

Before you start throwing things into your kit, you need to take a minute to think about the rules your charge’s parents have set down. If little Tina isn’t allowed to have sweets, don’t slip a baggie of homemade cookies in to tempt her. And if M&D would rather Johnny not play with soldiers and toy guns, skip the squirt guns and G.I. Joe dolls.

What did you love to do?

Kids are way more enthusiastic when they can tell you love joining in on an activity. And trust us, they can spot a faker across the playroom! Bring along picture or chapter books that you adored when you were learning how to read, or a particularly awesome child-appropriate movie you know they won’t have seen yet. Arts and crafts are always a hit, but if you’re more into watercolors than finger paints, bring along some watercolor pencils. A few old Barbies or your brother’s action figures won’t go amiss, either.

Personalize it!

The tots you’re taking care of will feel oh-so-special if they know you packed your bag especially for them—particularly if you sit for multiple families. Take care to tailor your stash to their preferences. Dress-up clothes for Amy, who loves pretending she’s a princess, will be a hit. But for tomboy Sally, something more outdoor-oriented, like a plan for a scavenger hunt or a pair of binoculars, might be more appropriate.

Mix it up

While some favorites do bear repeating, you’ll want to refresh your babysitter’s kit every so often, especially for frequent sitting clients. It could be swapping Monopoly Jr. for Trouble when you hang out with the board-game lover. Playing pretend? Challenge children to come up with different games using one dress-up piece, like a tiara, fairy wings or a black cape.

What do you pack in your babysitting kit, babes? Don’t leave it behind!

BY BRITTANY TAYLOR ON 7/1/2011 9:00:00 AM

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