Activities for the Kids [& You]

Finding activities to keep the kids busy is not always easy…it rarely is.

As a nanny I find it important to find activities that keep the kids stimulated and active no matter the weather. Planning activities and outings all of the kids enjoy makes the day more pleasant and memorable. It allows the kids to be creative, spontaneous and to learn what they’re interested in on their own terms.

Here are some activities that keep the kids entertained and add a little spontaneity to every day plans:

Painting

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Experiment with paint colors, adding water/glitter to the mix, using different surfaces as a canvas. Yes, painting is messy. That’s part of the fun. Plan ahead with an area and clothes that you don’t mind getting a little dirty!

Build a fort

Use a closet or closed off area for the kids to create a secret club. Hang a string from one end of the room to the other and drape blankets, capes or old sheets on it. This makes the ‘fort’ a private area, but allows room to play, add books or toys, pillows to lay down, etc. Add string lights and turn the lights off for a little extra fun!

Movie Marathon

Definitely a rainy day activity. Pick a few movies that interest each kid. I always find it difficult to watch one movie without one kid being upset with the movie choice. This is a major treat to have this much screen time, but great for a crumby day. Add some popcorn and slush to make the experience more enjoyable.

Spa Day

Create your own, easy to make face mask. Use honey and oats, avocado or banana as simple ingredients. Cut up cucumbers for eye masks and soak the kids’ nails in water before pampering them with a manicure or pedicure.

Cooking Challenge

Recreate your own cooking challenge. Be the judge and provide 5 ingredients out on the kitchen counter. Each child needs to create their own plate/dish using any of the ingredients provided. Judge them on taste and appearance. Depending on age possibly let them use the microwave. Examples of ingredients I use are apples, peanuts, chocolate, crackers, etc.

What’s in the Bag?

This game could keep the kids busy for hours. Take a bag that can be closed and put an object in it. Allow the kids to stick their hands in and attempt to guess what the object is. Whoever guesses their object correct gets to keep it. Occasionally put in treats for a fun twist on the game!

Dance-off

Give the kids 15 minutes to create their own choreography, either in teams or solo. When they’re ready let them pick their song of choice and let them go crazy!

Farm/Petting Zoo

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Connors Farm is an all around fun experience for the kids. Depending on the season they offer fruit picking, hay rides, obstacle courses, etc. The have a cool tree house/fort area with an industrial sized slide! Most farms have these types of activities and allow the kids to interact with some of the farm animals. Buy a cone full of animal food and let the kids feed them.

Splash Pad

Check out your local splash pad. Beverly, MA has a beautiful park with a splash pad and playground. When the weather is warm, the town turns the splash pad on during park hours.

Arcade

Salem Willows in Salem, MA is the perfect place to bring the kids. This outing usually is not a long one. The kids each get $3-$5 to spend on arcade games, but get to pick out prizes after winning tickets. They offer food options and rides for the kids too!

Chalk

With a large group of kids, draw a big circle for each kid in the driveway. Let them release their creativity on their own and fill the circle with whatever drawings they want. Add water to the chalk to make it more paint like and vibrant.

Bike Ride

Let the kids ride their bike, making a different kid the ‘line’ leader as the ride goes on. One kid chooses which direction to go then they switch off, bringing you to new areas and making the bike ride a little spontaneous and different each time. Stop at a random destination for a picnic!

Beach

A beach day is pretty self-explanatory. Bring treats and toys to keep the kids occupied. Collect rocks and shells from the beach to bring home and paint later in the day!

Library

Most libraries have a kids club which opens up the possibility to playing with news toys and meeting other kids. Let the kids pick out as many books as they want and read a few while there. A lot of libraries offer museum/park admission tickets. Always stay in the loop and check your local library before spending full price on an outing.

Museum

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Check out your local/nearest museums. Based on the location, plan a morning or day trip to a kid friendly destination. The Peabody Essex Museum does not always have a lot of kid friendly exhibits, but it does have a kids craft section and occasional kids classes in the lobby. Keep an eye on its continuously changing exhibits for the best time to bring the kids.

A few other special outing ideas that are self-explanatory are trampoline parks, indoor parks, amusement parks, farmers markets, local pools and splash pad.

 

Working as a nanny is hard work.

Yes, it is hard work.

It started out as a part-time job to get me through college – offering a flexible schedule and enough money to get me through a week [without having to beg my parents for money]. I knew I was qualified, growing up in an in-home daycare environment and taking on the responsibility of an occasional date-night, but man did I underestimate the time and commitment that goes into taking care of someone else’s children. What started as a part-time job has become a permanent position since graduating – one that has taught me a lot about life.

The question that I hear the most since graduating is “Where are you working?” – I cringe when I know it’s coming. My response: “Oh, I’m just a nanny.” I know what I do is hard work, but explaining it to people who have never done it – is impossible. I hate that I belittle the position, but outsiders don’t take is seriously and I’ve given up trying to explain. The honest truth is that being a nanny rarely gets the respect that it deserves.

Managing ridiculous schedules, dealing with unwarranted attitudes and getting touched with mysteriously sticky hands are sadly all a part of the job description, but there is so much more that goes into being a full-time nanny. What I do is important and real. I can only hope that I have as much of a positive impact on the children, as they do on me. Everything that I do is affecting their development and that’s not something that should be taken lightly.

It’s a job that offers A LOT of love and growth. Nannying – even though it won’t be my forever job, has made me a better person and prepared me for future careers and life endeavors.

I learned patience.

I have learned to pick and choose my battles. You learn that there are many things that cause temper tantrums and there are ways to sometimes avoid them.

You want to wear your pajamas to school instead of real clothes? – Go ahead. As a nanny you learn to not get hung up on the little things. Yes, I am human and things piss me off, but every day with the children develops my patience level a little more.

 I built relationships.

The relationships I built with the children I nanny for are special. They are not angels all the time [no children are], but I have developed a strong trusting relationship with them and I enjoy having a significant influence in their life. Not all nannies get so lucky, but finding a family that you feel connected with makes all the difference. By this I mean not just the children. I have found a home-away-from-home in the family I work for. They’ve made the transition from graduating college and moving away from home an easier one. Nannying like any job, allows you to meet and network with some personable and pleasant people.

I found my inner child.

Working with children opens vast opportunities to enjoy the little things in life that most people forget about while getting older. I secretly enjoy watching movies from my childhood and heading to the aquarium just as much as them. Sometimes its important to focus on fun and working with children makes this attainable.

I matured.

At 22, I’ve felt like I have matured beyond my years. I understand the responsibilities of caring for other humans, having their life in your hands, managing schedules, putting others before myself, etc. Nannying has given me the opportunity to start my life post-graduation, save the money to move and live comfortably in a transition that is scary and unknown.

I have a realistic insight on parenting.

I learned how I want to raise my children. I have a wildly accurate view of what it takes to be a parent, the good and bad. I have been exposed to the best and worst parts of parenting and I get to go home at the end of the day. I get an insight of the sacrifices that are made and how important of a role of a parent is.

Where to Brunch?

Salem, MA

Ugly Mug Diner

The Ugly Mug offers a menu of classic diner options with a twist & a lengthy list of adult beverages and coffee – where can you go wrong? The menu has an item to satisfy every brunch craving & more. From The Elvis waffle [topped with peanut butter cups, bacon, bananas & whipped cream] to the Huevos Rancheros breakfast burrito [loaded with eggs, cheese & avocado mousse] – everyone will be satisfied – if you doubt me, check out the menu. This diner is by far the best place to brunch in Salem and the only downside is trying to beat the constant brunch crowd.

Gulu-Gulu Café

This Café focuses on lighter food options, hard-to-come-by beer, coffee & spiked drinks. The quirky menu includes a slim assortment of savory crepes, breakfast sandwiches & baked goods. These light choices are perfect to eat while enjoying the Café beverages and weekly events. If you’re looking for a little bit more than a bite to eat – Gulu-Gulu Café is the right place to be. Stay up-to-date with the cafes upcoming events.

The Ledger

This recently transformed 19th century bank is a destination to see. Keeping old downtown Salem vibes intact – The Ledger brings to light an exceptional culinary experience that hones in on the true nature of historical Salem. The high-end restaurant provides seafood options, as well as traditional breakfast plates [pancakes, French toast, daily donut] & and you can top it all off with an apple pie mimosa or bloody Mary. Is your mouth watering yet? If you are interested in a brunch of exclusivity & style – then The Ledger is the spot to be.

Where’s my passion and how do I find it?

Post-grad slump.

Is finding your passion as easy as taking control of your life and following your heart or is it easier said than done? Months out from graduating and I’m seriously struggling through a career crisis. Chances are if you’re reading this, you are too – or maybe not. I’m faced with the question, where does my passion lie?

I’m aware that a career search isn’t offered to most on a silver platter and that it usually requires an immense amount of time and determination. But – it feels like hours on end have gone into searching [job titles, keywords, or companies] into employment seeking platforms and there is little to no progress to show for it. I’m done reading entry-level positions that require 10 years of relevant experience [not possible] and I certainly don’t have the energy to explain my lack of direction to one more inquisitive person.

I can’t help but to question: Am I self-sabotaging myself because I feel unprepared or am I actually unprepared?

I’ve come to the realization that forcing myself into this quarter-life crisis is not a healthy method. Instead of entertaining the idea of me being unprepared, I’ve changed attention into finding what I’m passionate about – the appropriate and doable resolution. Yes, this is easier said than done, but I’ve started and you should too – by asking simple questions and attempting to change my approach.

What am I mediocre at? How can I make them work to my advantage? What do I want to accomplish in life? What would I spend time doing if I had financial abundance?

These practical tips can help you find your passion too.

Instead of making excuses for why this job isn’t a good fit and why that job requires more experience than you can offer – decide to eliminate the negative justifications and be your own biggest advocate. Take a step back from focusing on the stresses of life (for me – solely searching for a career path I essentially care for) and switch temporary focus to bettering your health and mind first. Meditation and solidarity have  a significant impact on a positive outlook and improvement in health. Yoga has recently become an outlet for me to separate from real-life anxieties and submerge into solitude for a mere hour and 15 minutes a week (I swear it helps). These periods of solitude allow an individual to reflect on lifelong goals, potential ambitions and the aspects in life that truly have meaning. If you’re issue is having no direction, brainstorm and ask yourself whether some of your mediocre skills and interests can form into a realistic purpose. Make a choice and stick with it. The only person that stands in your way is yourself. Simply take risks and persevere through the hardships and negativity. Failing could be the catalyst to discovering a career that stimulates passion. With the right mentality finding what sparks your interest is as easy as taking control of your life and following your heart.

 “You are confined only by the walls you build yourself” – Andrew Murphy.