Embodiments of innocence, children can be anything from extremely shy, to naughty bold. Curious and yet untainted by the world, these little packets of energy can bring a smile to anyone’s faces. With today’s nuclear family scenario, it so happens that both parents end up working leaving their kids to a nanny, or temporarily to babysitters. If you are attempting to take care of a tater tot, you will observe that attached to their parents, most kids will raise a huge hue and cry when they discover their parents are not around, and take time to bond with you, but there are certain things you can do to keep their mind off their parents and engage their energy, which would otherwise most likely cause you a headache, if he/she is anything like Dennis the menace
10. Cook with them
Cooking necessarily does not have to be something difficult and dangerous; it could just be a simple act of making a very elaborate, multi filling, multi layered sandwich, ready to eat items such as a home made pizza, or burrito which only requires some heating in the micro oven. Salad dressings, or baked goods such as cakes, brownies and cookies are another thing to make together since nothing excites a child more than sweet dishes. Making lemonade, fruit juices and desserts like jelly, ice creams and sundaes is another way to go, to keep the child engaged to making something that he/she would later eat. Of course it is going to be a little messy and requires more care than usual, since kids in the kitchen will be exposed to dangerous items such as knives, but it’s a good bonding activity which will keep them occupied for long.
9. Drama and dress up
Every child’s life more or less revolves around either Disney if it is a girl, or Pokemon, Doraemon and the likes, if it is a boy.At the risk of sounding sexist, the above classification applies in general, though it may not be the norm. Either way all kids would love a game of drama and playing dress up to get a chance to impersonate their favourite cartoon character or superhero. Make believe could also include any scenario such as a mock wedding,doctor-doctor, playing house or tea parties with dolls, playing soldier wars, or kings and queens of faraway lands, or anything that the child’s imagination can wonder off into. A little costume change, some mood setting and character establishment, and you are all set to support the child in his or her ‘once upon a time’.
8. Fun activities
Kids are very active, and that’s adorable until they start running around the entire place exploring everything, driving you absolutely crazy! You can use this excess energy to keep them engaged doing something fun and constructive like dancing and singing, or playing indoor active games. Turn on MTV and crank on the bass, and watch the kids surprise you with their moves, or play games such as simon says, musical statues or if the house is big enough, find a cupboard or underside of a bed to hide in while the kid looks for you in excitement in a classic game of hide and seek. It will probably sap your energy as well but it is worth it to return to your childhood.
7. Fort building or camping
I remember, as a child i would take all the umbrellas in the house and cover them with the blankets, to make my fortress of solitude to play. Its easy, its safe and a whole lot of fun! Making make believe forts out of umbrellas , old cartons or boxes, piled up cushions and chairs and a couple of blankets could not only keep the child’s mind off his parents, but might actually make him/her tired enough to go to sleep, i.e.. take a fort nap, so to speak. If the child is too old to play make believe, then camping outdoors in the backyard or a tent in the living room to generate a camp like atmosphere could make things lively. You could have marshmallows, switch off the lights and exchange scary stories in torch lights and gorge on snacks and chocolates, i.e. in short camp food.
6. Board games
When x-box and mobile phones had not been a part of every toddlers vocabulary, we had checkers, dungeons and dragons, scrabble and many other board games to entertain us at home during a rainy day. Doing new tricks to roll the dice to get a specific number or using schemes to defeat the opponents tokens, board games have always been important part of a travel luggage. Maybe snakes and ladders, ludo or monopoly will not be as world changing as Jumanji, but they are definitely great pastimes. With several new board games centred around recent cartoon characters, kids have a wide variety of games to choose from, apart from the old classics. Non violent and purely dependent on chance, most board games make for the perfect way to keep children mess free yet engaged, and if you want them happy let them win!
5. Rent a movie
With so many good animation movies like ‘up’, ‘tangled’, ‘shrek’, ‘wall-e’ , etc., there is no dearth of the kind of movies you can watch with kids to keep them engaged. Movies or simply watching any television program or with advances in television technology allows you to watch educational programs as well. A nice warm Disney movie with loads of popcorn and a little cola would make for the best spent afternoon or night. With two whole hours of quiet clean entertainment, no fuss, no mess and no work except the making of popcorn, watching a kids movie is by far the most simple and effortless way to keep a kid captivated and happy.
4. Video games
One of the greatest inventions, the video game addiction is not just limited to children but extends to adults as well! It has become a religion for some , with organized tournaments and non stop games. From racing , to war games, there is a wide variety of games available today, some of them becoming popular enough to be turned into movies! With development of x-box technology possessing motion control system called kinect, allowing for real time motion which is mimicked by game characters by sensors, video games have come a long way from Mario. Tennis, dance, riding, fighting, guitar stringing, you can play any game with the child to keep his attention depending on his/ her preference.
The oldest trick in the book, every child’s heart can be won over by a good storytelling session, (preferably with a a happy ending). Storytelling need not be limited to just bed time sleep inducers, they can be used to keep a child’s attention for a certain span of time at any time of the day. Simply sitting together on the couch or using puppets for that extra touch, storytelling does not require any specific setting or location, you just need a good happy story, good expressions and a little patience to solve their queries. you can make things interesting by reading out from a book ensuring they read with you too, encouraging reading habits. A little preparation just earned you a peaceful afternoon with the assumption that the child would eventually go to sleep.
Fresh air and other kids, what more could you ask for to keep a child engaged? A quiet, nice stroll in the park or a bike ride, a game of cricket, football or catch, there are a plethora of activities that you can do outside. If there is a sandbox nearby with lots of other kids then you might just wait nearby while the kid plays his heart out. Apart from just a visit to a park, you could take an educational trip to a museum, or go to a fair with rides and games, or to an amusement park, the zoo, to the beach, for a movie or for a lovely picnic. If there is a swimming pool nearby, you could just go for a swim together, or for swimming lessons.
1. Arts and crafts
One of the best ways to keep any kid occupied, arts and crafts just require colourful papers, glue, glitters, scissors, paints, cardboards and chart papers. You could leave them to make a pretty drawing or a card or go the extra mile and teach them to make something- like a first aid box or a jewellery box out of an old box, finger painting, cotton balls decorations, origami if you know it, and anything from M.A.D. If all else fails you will always have plan B- the evergreen unfailing boats and planes, which you can later float in the bathtub or fly! Play-doh is another activity most kids love! Apart from the initial investment, the only disadvantage to this otherwise amazing creative pastime, is the clean up afterwards- of not only the place, but also the kids in case they are too young.