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TV-Free Babysitting Ideas for All Ages

Updated on June 19, 2013

No TV = No Problem

Have you ever completely run out of creative activities to help keep the kids you are babysitting entertained?! Aren't you tempted to just stick them in front of the TV and call it a day? Or perhaps you're a parent and you could use some babysitting ideas for how to have fun with your own children. Well, you've come to the right place!

Although I am not a mother yet, I have definitely had my fair share of experience with kids, and most of them have come through babysitting. There have been countless babysitting ideas I've tried over the years; some with greater success than others. Here I plan to share with you some that I think work the best for the large majority of kids. Working and playing with kids is something I truly have a passion for. In fact, I recently found a letter I wrote in kindergarten saying that when I grew up I wanted to be "1. a babysitter and 2. a teacher". I have been blessed enough to do both, and hopefully from my experiences I can share with you some good babysitting ideas to try out and enjoy with your kids.

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Outdoor Babysitting Ideas

When the weather is nice, there are no better babysitting ideas than those that involve taking the kids out for some fun in the sun! Not only will it be easier to keep them entertained, but there are some great ways to get their energy out if you’re hoping for a relaxing evening later. Many of these activities are free and require little preparation time. Here are just a few babysitting ideas for the kids to have a blast outside:

  • Chalk art on the driveway. Trace bodies and have kids color them in, play hopscotch, etc.
  • Blow bubbles and have the kids try to chase and pop them
  • Create a relay course with toys laying around for obstacles
  • Fill a water bucket and let kids "paint" with water all over the yard and outside of the house (great for younger kids)
  • Create a mini golf course and play golf using sticks and small balls
  • Throw the Frisbee. Either toss to each other or aim for different things in the yard
  • Take a walk around the neighborhood. You can skip, hop, ride bikes,...
  • Get the kids in swimsuits and run in the sprinklers (may want to ask parents first)
  • Have a water balloon fight. If you want to avoid getting wet, aim at targets rather than each other!
  • Hula hoop races (either against each other or just beat-the-clock)
  • Fly a kite
  • Play red light green light
  • Jump rope

Sometimes if I notice that a child might enjoy one of the above activities, but does not have the materials needed to play, I will surprise them by bringing over a pack of chalk, a hula hoop, or a Frisbee myself. Trust me, it’s worth the extra cost to keep them happily entertained! And you'd be amazed how many babysitting ideas I can find at the dollar store.


Indoor Babysitting Ideas

If the weather outside isn’t great, or if the kids are just tired of being outside, there is no need to worry. There are plenty of creative babysitting ideas you can come up with for indoor fun! These are some of my favorites:

  • Balloon volleyball - blow up a balloon and pass it back and forth trying to keep it from touching the ground
  • Indoor bowling - use cups, bottles, or toys as pins and a small ball to try to knock them over
  • Go on a treasure hunt - have kids take turns hiding different toys around the house for the other(s) to search for (you could even have them write clues or draw a map)
  • Build a fort with chairs, blankets, couch cushions, etc. - have fun with it and come up with a name, make a sign, and maybe even a flag for your fort
  • Have an indoor picnic - lay out a blanket and gather all the stuffed animals to join you
  • Perform a play - let the kids come up with their own, or go all out and write scripts. And don't forget sock puppets!
  • Make Play-Doh together - all you need is 2 cups of flour, 2 cups of warm water, 1 1/2 tablespoons of cream of tartar, 1 cup of salt, 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil and food coloring. Mix ingredients together, cook on low for three minutes, let it cool and voila!
  • Play "restaurant" - let the kids take your order and create meals using either pretend food, Play-Doh or small snacks
  • Create crafts from recycling items or other materials around the house (popsicle sticks, paper plates, plastic cups, cottons balls, etc.)

Educational Babysitting Ideas

The key to educational activities with kids is to do them without the kids catching on to the fact that you are, in a way, quizzing them. As a teacher, I sometimes get myself in trouble with this one by trying to get kids to do to many “school things” at home (sounding out words, telling me colors and letters, etc.). Some kids don’t mind at all and may actually get excited and proud when you begin asking them educational questions, but for some it can be quite frustrating. Not to worry though, because there are a few "sneaky" babysitting ideas for how to throw some activities with educational value in the mix while still having fun...take a look!

  • Use cups or a muffin tin to practice sorting items into groups based on color/size/shape
  • Make a book together by taking turns writing sentences. For younger kids, write and read a sentence, then have them color a picture for it
  • Make patterns with beads or colorful toys
  • Use sidewalk chalk to practice writing numbers and letters
  • Go on a "shape hunt". Cut paper into various shapes (have kids color them) and then send them on a hunt to find specific shapes.
  • Do the same hunt with letters and numbers
  • Create poems or songs together, alternating each line
  • Practice fractions by dividing Play-Doh cookies and pizzas into equal groups
  • Sort items together based on their beginning or ending sounds (ex: the ball would go with the bear, balloon, box, bug, etc.)
  • When cleaning up, ask for specific items before putting them away (ex: "May I please have two red blocks, the smallest ball, the animal that says moo, etc.)

Don't Sweat It

Coming up with and implementing good babysitting ideas is all about having fun with the kids and making them feel loved and protected. There will be rough days, but having your bag of tricks will make a big difference! I hope you enjoyed these babysitting ideas and have success with them in the future. Feel free to add comments with your own too - I'd love to hear what has worked for you!

Any other good babysitting ideas? Good stories?

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    • HaylieAnn profile image

      HaylieAnn 3 years ago from Alaska

      Love it! these are some great ideas!

    • profile image

      Sister of 5 3 years ago

      I'm just starting to babysit. This gave me lots of great ideas! Thanks for sharing!

    • profile image

      Kassie 3 years ago

      I'm going to be watching some new kids that I don't know like I know other kids ive watched. This was a big help for the longer nights.

    • BNadyn profile image

      Bernadyn 4 years ago from Jacksonville, Florida

      I enjoyed reading this, very helpful and useful. I'm a mom of two toddlers and I try hard not to have them in front of the TV all day so I'm always on the hunt for new activities to do with them. Simple activities like the ones mentioned here sound perfect to keep them busy. I like making the games and activities educational sometimes, too, especially right now while my son is home from school. He still needs to practice his numbers, shapes and letters. Pinning this for future reference!

    • profile image

      Kaylie 4 years ago

      These are really cute ideas, thanks for sharing

    • profile image

      yaya 4 years ago

      thanks

    • profile image

      Ariel 5 years ago

      Don't forget to clean up when parents are about to come home-if you have more than one child to babysit for, try naming a person queen or king of each room and they tell you what to clean or put away.

    • profile image

      Lovely 5 years ago

      Looking to start a babysitting business I'm 16 and this rlly helped.

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      Me 5 years ago

      Cool

    • bemily521 profile image
      Author

      bemily521 5 years ago

      Thanks so much for the comments! I'm glad you both found it to be helpful. And yes - Olympics is a definite exception! ;)

    • profile image

      SJmorningsun25 5 years ago

      Great suggestions! I haven't babysat in a long time, but I remember sometimes getting so frazzled and being completely out of ideas (especially since kids can get bored with doing any activity for more than 5 minutes!). Though I avoid the TV with kids, one of the most blessed babysitting nights was on the night of an Olympics opening ceremony! That's not TV, that's culture. :-) Voted up and useful! Thanks for sharing.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

      Excellent--and perfect timing for summertime! You've done a great job here with these ideas to make life better for kids and sitters alike.