- Family and Parenting
Fun Barbie Babysitting Games
I'll be the first to admit that I'm not a natural with kids. Despite my Red Cross babysitter training, lots of help and guidance from my parents, and plenty of experience watching other babysitters doing their thing, I was very nervous when I first started watching others' kids.
Heck, the first time I formally babysat, the evening ended in police getting together a search team (complete with search dogs) after I took my infant charge for a walk that lasted just a bit too long. Talk about humiliating.
After a couple more babysitting gigs and some trial and error (with an extra side of error) I realized that caring for others' kids can be fun- especially once your find out what their favorite toys are and make up fun games to play with them!
Playing with Barbie
Barbie is (and perhaps always will be) a classic toy, and a common favorite amongst young girls. Most girls I've looked after have had a decent Barbie collection, and they love playing with them.
Designing fun Barbie babysitting games can be a great way to draw out a shy child, get chores and other tasks done in a fun way, and generally make the hours speed by.
Here are some cool babysitting games you can play with Barbies that have worked well for me! The fun thing about these is that Barbies can be substituted for pretty much any favored doll, action figure, or stuffed animal, so even if the kid you're watching loves Transformers, these games still work.
Once you get started with these, you'll come up with a bunch more ideas for games of your own - all I'm saying is they're much better than many other (disastrous) babysitting ideas I've come across!
Imaginary Road Trips
One of my favorite things to do as a child was to create a pretend boat, mobile home, plane, or magic carpet, load on my most favorite toys, and go for long trips around the world.
Why not take your babysitting buddy on a similar adventure? Ask your charge where he or she would like to travel to most, then build a pretend ship or bus or plane and go there!
If you have a lot of time, you can build an actual fort for yourselves and pretend to go along with your Barbie posse. If you're looking for a more short-term trip, just toss Barbie in a Barbie car, plane, boat, or homemade (but smaller scale) conveyance and enjoy the vacation vicariously.
You can spend hours exploring the house via Barbie's car - turning hallways into vast expanses of highway, living room rugs into lakes and oceans, and bathrooms into multifaceted amusement parks. Have fun with it! All you need is a bit of imagination, and chances are the child you're babysitting can loan you some if you're a bit short.
While some might not call this a 'game' per say, I say constructing homes (or better yet cities, empires, and universes) is a great babysitting game to play!
Building homes, neighborhoods, and towns is particularly easy to do with Barbies because so many kids have Barbie houses, cars, and other products that make miniature urban development a total breeze.
Engaging in this sort of activity is a great way to get to know the kid you're babysitting. I've babysat some children who only want to construct relationships between dolls, whereas others just want to dress them, or arrange their homes, or construct cities, cars, and freeways for them (others just wanted to throw them). By seeing what your charge chooses to construct, you'll learn more about what makes him or her tick- relationships, structures, problem solving, or something else entirely!
Build a Fort!
Building a fort is great for Barbie lovers since most Barbie owners only get to put their dolls into sepcial constructions.
Building a fort using some chairs, pillows, couch cushions, and blankets is special because it involves constructing a special home for all parties- Barbie and her pint-sized human pal. Building forts is better for longer babysitting shifts, since they often take time and involve more cleanup, but they're really fun to create in the late afternoon, as once it gets dark, forts gain a special magical aura that nothing beats. After all, a small fort in the middle of a dark living room enables one to feel as though one is out camping pretty much anywhere!
If you don't think dress up is a compelling game, I challenge you to take a look at some fashion magazines and reconsider your stance. The process of assembling, arranging, and accessorizing outfits is incredibly entertaining (and addictive0, and playing dress-up with Barbies is a lot less of a hassle and mess-maker than playing dress-up with life-sized children.
You can turn Barbie dress up time into a more structured game by helping your charge set up and run a runway show. Kitchen counters make for excellent runways, and if you want to be extra creative, you can challenge your little friend to construct custom couture using paper towels, toilet paper, or wrapping paper, or old scraps of fabric.
Barbie Games for Specific Events
One thing I've always found challenging while babysitting is handling potentially troublesome tasks and events, such as travel, social events, and mealtimes. Here are some Barbie babysitting games that can keep children occupied and well-behaved in these potentially trying scenarios.
Traveling with kids is no small feat, and because going from one place to another can be so chaotic and uncomfortable (not to mention boring), it comes as no surprise that kids often misbehave. Offering a fun game to play with a favorite toy is an excellent way to keep a kid occupied while traveling- and to help her understand everything that goes into a complicated trip as well!
If you would like to teach a child how to adequately prepare and manage a trip early on, you could make a more prolonged game of prepping for and managing travel by having your charge manage his or her favorite toy's travel. Before the trip, have the child explain to the Barbie (or whatever) where you're going and what wil happen. Encourage your child to pack (either literally or in a pretend manner) all the supplies that toy will need, and during the trip, encourage the child to make sure the toy watches its luggage, buckles its seatbelt, and has its tickets in order. You can make things extra fun by snapping pictures of the toy during the travels- they will make for a very fun photo album!
On several occasions I've been asked to watch children at a special event so their parents can focus on the 1,000 other things that require their attention. Bringing Barbies along to these events is a great idea, since usually kids are just squished into itchy clothing and given nothing to do but stand back and look pretty.
One very fun thing to do at large events is get all the kids together and have them re-create the event that is taking place in doll/toy/Barbie form. If it's a wedding, have them re-create a little Barbie wedding. If it's a birthday party, have them make their own mini-birthday in the corner, and steal a little bit of cake for the lucky doll. These games make great photo ops, and also make kids feel less like little marionettes (since it gives them something to dress up and order around), which helps to reduce irritability.
I was a dreadfully picky eater as a kid, so I know how uncomfortable meal times can be. If you're caring for a kid who never gets excited about meal times, one thing you can do to spice things up is to set the table for two- the kid and her/his favorite Barbie!
Dolls, toys, and other action figures are typically aspirational figures to kids, so having Barbie eat the same thing as the child you babysit might make this child feel a bit more interested in eating! It doesn't work all the time, but it worked for me as a kid, and it just might work for your little charge as well.
What are YOUR favorite Barbie games?
Did you have Barbies as a kid- or play with other sorts of dolls or action figures?
What sorts of games did you play with your Barbies? Did you ever play Barbie games with other kids whom you babysat when you were older? What worked and what didn't?
Share your favorite Barbie games, activities, and babysitting tricks in the comments below!