Thursday, April 14, 2011

10 Things About Little Kids (Money Saving Tips Included!)

We are a month into our adventure in babysitting for the hubby's sister's grandkids. They are two and four year old little girls who are generally pretty good--as good as two and four year olds can be--but it has been quite the re-learning experience. Here's what I have learned so far:

  1. It doesn't take much to entertain them and certainly doesn't require a room full of toys to do so. We have made tents out of blankets, played cook with real pots and pans, been to the local park numerous times, read numerous books (from the library), and the older one has helped me make cookies (she likes to stir stuff) and clean (I put dry rags on her feet and she "skates" behind me to dry the floor as I mop).

  2. Grandma has a strict no TV policy. They never watch TV but do watch little kid videos from the library. Occasionally I'll let them watch 'Arthur' which is a really good cartoon on PBS (no violence, lots of information on good values, etc). That's probably why I haven't heard them ask for a single kiddie consumer item yet--because they don't get to see the commercials for these things so aren't brainwashed into begging for them.

  3. They aren't picky eaters. Both mom and grandma tell them that if they don't eat what's on the table, they can go hungry. As a result, they are really good eaters. This saves money, time, and aggravation (another kid I know will eat exactly three items total--chicken nuggets, Gogurt, and cheese pizza--if these things aren't in the house, the mom will literally run out to the store to get it). This makes for an annoying, picky kid who gets to control the parents. Not good.

  4. I have to control myself at the Dollar Store. It would be so easy to fill my basket with things they would like--there's so much cute stuff and it's ONLY A DOLLAR! However, I would eventually be broke and end up with a house full of junk. So I try to restrain myself and buy them each one small thing every other week.

  5. I have to control them at the Dollar Store. Note to self, leave kids home when going shopping. Eventually they will need to learn how to shop but taking kids by rack after rack of toys is enough to make anyone (me and them) crazy. With four adults in the house, there is usually someone around to watch them when someone else goes shopping.

  6. Some things are worth their weight in gold. The little one is usually pretty good (except for the fearlessness part where she will fling herself off of anything--slide, sofa, pool--whether or not someone is there to catch her) but the other day she was a total maniac, like call-the-exorcist kind of maniac. I went through the usual list--not hungry, not thirsty, not tired, and then figured out she had a couple of new teeth coming in. While I usually look for cheaper alternatives to whatever I need to buy, I had no qualms about buying teething gel at the local grocery store. It was something that couldn't wait and made both of us happy.

  7. A potty trained kid is a good thing. The little one has been potty trained since she was about a year and a half old. This is kind of a luck of the draw thing as some kids potty train very young and others make you wonder if they will ever get out of diapers, but the sooner the better (it saves the cost of diapers and the ick factor of changing them).

  8. Enrichment activities are also a good thing. I usually hesitate to buy toys, figuring they will be discarded and forgotten pretty quickly, however I don't have any qualms about paying for enrichment activities for kids. The older girl takes gymnastic and karate when she is home with her parents and has been enrolled in a local karate school since she came here. Lessons give kids things they can't just discard, namely, skills, the ability to set and reach goals, the opportunity to work with others, and many other things that they will carry with them into adulthood.

  9. If you give something to one, you need an identical item to give to the other. I know they need to learn how to share but at this age, they want exactly what the other has. If one gets something the other doesn't get, lots of crying and hitting ensues. Eek.

  10. Everyone gets to be on a schedule. For the hubby and I, who have basically thrown our schedules to the wind, this took a bit of adjustment, but it works much better when there is a clear schedule each day and everyone knows what comes next. They get their naps on time which means they don't get cranky, everyone knows when to come home for dinner which makes for a fun way to share a meal and encourages good eating habits, and we know exactly when to take them to the park for optimal burning of energy (and optimal response to nap time!).

Over all it's been a wonderful experience. All of our grandkids live far away from us so it is nice to have little ones around for a change. It is also our first foray into doing something so totally out of the ordinary for us--namely trading work for room and board which makes it even more adventurous.


  1. It sounds like you're having fun and that it's going well. Not all children of that age are as well behaved.

  2. Hi Jan, It is fun (and gives me a reason to go on the slides and the swings at the park!) and they are petty good kids (truth be told I was worried before we met them that I wouldn't like them--I usually like kids starting around age 7 and up--but I was pleaasantly suprised that they are pretty well behaved, complete with "yes maam" and "yes sir" when we say something!).

  3. Great list! Kids are so fun to be with! :) But patience is a definitely a virtue when it comes to kids! ;) lol!