Saturday, October 29, 2011

Introducing Your Pet to Co-op Kids

If you have a pet, take special precautions during babysitting shifts at your house. Your own children are accustomed to your pet, so it's easy to forget that not all children know how to treat animals.

The American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry recommends that young children (ages 4 and under) should be monitored at all times when they're around animals because children of this age have poor impulse control.

When children come to your home, tell them not to touch your pets at first because they don't know each other yet. Have the children sit down and let the pet walk over to them. Give each child a small treat to offer the pet.

If your pets are uncomfortable with the noise and bustle of a babysitting shift (and many are), keep the pets away from the fray until your babysitting shift is over.

Salt Dough

Kids like to make this dough themselves. Tackle this activity on a day you feel energetic during your co-op shift because you'll have some cleaning up to do afterward. It's worth it, though, because playing with homemade salt dough keeps kids busy for a long time.

4 c. flour
1 c. salt
1 1/2 c. water

Combine ingredients in a bowl. Knead until it is smooth and not sticky. Make items such as beads, cookie cutter cutouts, and Christmas ornaments. Place the molded objects on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until the dough is dry but not brown. Then paint with craft paints or felt-tip pens. Cover with shellac for a more permanent finish.

Yogurt Fruit Dip

Some kids are much more likely to eat fruit if they have something yummy to dip it in. This fruit dip takes just a few minutes to make. Make it before your babysitting shift, and bring it out when everyone starts to get cranky. They'll perk right up.

8 oz. cream cheese
16 oz. orange yogurt
2 Tbs. brown sugar
1 tsp. lemon juice
8 oz. crushed pineapple
3/4 c. flaked coconut

Beat the cream cheese with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add the yogurt, brown sugar, and lemon juice and beat until smooth. Stir in the pineapple and coconut. Serve with fresh fruit.

Behavior Tip: Advance Notice

Sometimes we forget that young children need more time to adapt to new situations than we do. If you have several toddlers during a babysitting shift, remember to give them advance notice 10 minutes prior to a transition, and you will find that your babysitting shift goes smoother.

For example, if you're planning on taking the children outside for a walk, make an announcement ten minutes before you plan on leaving: "We're going to be going for a walk outside in 10 minutes. It's so nice outside!" Let the children continue to play, and then mention the walk again a couple of minutes before the walk: "It's almost time for our walk, so let's put these toys away and get our shoes on."

When kids have some time to adjust before transitions, they don't feel caught off guard or out of control of the situation, and they're much less likely to throw tantrums. If you are caring for children with Asperger's or autism, this is especially important because transitions can be quite difficult.

Remember to give the kids in your care advance notice, and everyone will be happier and calmer.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Peanut Butter Bread

2 cups flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 cup sugar or honey
1 1/4 cup milk
2/3 cup peanut butter

Lightly mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. If using honey, cream it with the peanut butter in a separate bowl. Heat the milk until lukewarm, then add the peanut butter and blend well. Add the wet and dry ingredients and beat thoroughly. Pour into a greased loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes. When the bread is cold, make thin slices and spread with honey or jam. This slices best if baked a day in advanced and refrigerated after cooking.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Homemade Finger Paint

You can make this finger paint before your babysitting shift, or you can let the kids help you make it. Either way, they'll be counting the days until their parents let them come back to your house.

Finger Paint

1 cup flour
1/4 cup salt
7/8 cup cold water (1 cup minus 2 tablespoons)
a few drops of food coloring

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and enjoy!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

What is a Babysitting Co-op?

What is a Babysitting Co-op?
A babysitting co-op is a formalized babysitting program that is established among people who know and trust one another. People who participate in a co-op might know one another through activities such as preschool, your neighborhood, church organizations, play groups or other activities such as these.
Usually, co-op members already have existing friendships, know and trust one another and share similar values/parenting philosophies.

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