As you all know, I have a son. I stay home with him. Finding ways to entertain him is usually pretty easy. I taught preschool for 10 years, so I have a decent stash of ideas to fall back on. But, momma alone isn't always the best playmate. The Little Dude has lots of cousins, but they all live just far enough away to make getting together on a regular basis kind of a pain. Also, losing my job back in April meant that we are now working with a smaller budget. So, how could I manage to stay home with LD, keep him happy, but still work? Babysitting!
At first, the idea was to just bring in one child, LD's age, for 2-3 days a week. We found a fit pretty quickly, and while my little guy has a bit of a love/hate relationship with our new friend, it's working well. So well, in fact, that I'm looking for another child to watch. 3 children, in my opinion, isn't really a preschool. But adding my sister's 4 daughters to the mix in the afternoons makes it a preschool! My sis and her family are moving by us-as in, the same apartment complex. We're all pretty excited about it. Big Dude and the bro-in-law are totally brothers from different mothers, we all get along great. However, the move, while necessary for them, will strap them financially. Childcare for 4 kids is EXPENSIVE. So I'm babysitting on the barter basis.
Since I'm adding 4 kids with no increase in income to offset it, I'm having to be very crafty and frugal about it. But, since I'm coming from a teacher background, I have high expectations. I want the best for the kids. So, I did a little research. There's so many blogs out there with DIY ideas! I came away really inspired. Next, I polled my friends on Facebook for ideas. They really came through for me - Hayley suggested blanket tents, cooking projects, and the splash park at Bicentennial. Bonnie of The Not So Modern Housewife gave me one that sounds awesome. Open the dishwasher, dump some "ingredients" inside the lid, let junior mix it up and play, then shut the door and run the washer to clean it up! BJ reminded me of sock puppets, Laura had some game ideas, as well as lunchtime fun like an indoor picnic or a pizza topping buffet. Sabrina seriously educated me about educational games with beanbags, and music by Hap Palmer that kids can act out. Connie reminded me about the simple joy of decorating a shoe box. Her daughter, a former student of mine, used a shoebox to make a tzedakah box (a box used by children in the Jewish faith to save money for a charitable donation). Aren't these ladies awesome?
The Big Dude (who may or may not realize that he agreed to help with a bit of this!) and I will be having a crafty weekend. We're converting one side of our boy's train table into a chalk table. I also hope to make a dual-sided felt board with play pieces, a geo board, and a light box. I also have been working on some file folder games, and I have recipes ready for play-doh, bubble mixture, watercolor paints, and sidewalk paints. A large plastic tub with a lid will become a simple sensory table. I'm raiding the closet for dress up clothes, and the scrapbooking supplies for art materials. Some shimmery material swatches are now being used for music and movement activities. I could go on and on...but I do plan to post pictures and instructions for some of the bigger projects. If you have kids/watch kids/teach kids, these could really be some great resources for you!