Recently, I was roped into babysitting a friend of a friend’s kids while they were in the hospital having another baby, and I found myself terrified. Not of the kids themselves—though they were certainly little handfuls—but of dead air. Now I understand how radio deejays must feel when trying to fill the time, because it seems like there’s never enough to do. Kids have crazy energy and short attention spans, which you can intellectually know, but until you really experience it first hand you don’t KNOW what that means.
Thankfully these were cool kids, and the older one, Rebecca, helped me out. When they asked me if I had any fun board games (I didn’t, at least not for kids), I said “No,” quite sheepishly and prepared to be judged by 8 and 5 year old toughs. But they just shrugged. “We can just make our own,” Rebecca said. “We just need some paper, some crayons, some pennies, and some dice.”
Hallelujah for imagination! For the next half hour, we were busy designing our game board (after a few first drafts we decided it needed to be bigger and have more spaces), which ended up being circus themed (we had just watched Dumbo). Both kids contributed, and together we coloured the spaces and made the rules sheet. When we were happy with the game, we each picked a penny by remembering the year on it and then we began. The game held their attention for the next hour or so—long enough for their aunt, my friend, to come pick them up to go meet their new sibling. And they took it with them, with smiles on their faces.
It was FREE, easy, and very, very fun. Kids are great; keeping kids busy is even greater.