Thrifty Living: Water Painting

13 Jul

I spent much of my youth babysitting. I had a regular gig babysitting kids from two sets of families down the street, plus regular gigs at my family’s church. I was an expert babysitter. I took classes, enjoyed what I did, and had a blast with the kids that I cared for. Like every other girl my age, I voraciously read through the Babysitter’s Club. I was convinced that all this would somehow make me a wonderful parent someday.

Babysitting, however,  in no way prepared me for parenting whatsoever. Except the part about  learning that if you give kids a bucket of water and some paint brushes they will be happy for several hours.

When we went to the hardware store to pick up some parts for the pergola we’re building, I was sure to pick up a handful of cheap paintbrushes in assorted sizes. We had several buckets leftover from Isobel’s Bubble Party, making this one of the cheapest forms of entertainment this summer.

For the first hour we played with them inside the house, no water at all, “painting” the cupboards and the floors while I did the dishes. When we went outside I filled her bucket with water and she instantly got to work.

Oh man, she thought it was awesome.

We painted the ground for awhile before I showed her how to paint the fence. We’re working on her Tom Sawyer skills now so she can rope the neighbor kids into helping us paint the house when it’s time.

Jupiter was curious, but really no help at all.

When cousin Victoria came over, they added chairs to the equation.

Isobel tried painting Victoria, but she was not having with that.

Victoria thought this game was the best ever.

After Victoria left, we tried out the brushes in the pool.

Kingston came over, and was an enthusiastic painter.

I love that they wanted to paint the outside of the pool, too.

This cost maybe three dollars total and Isobel plays with it at least two to three times a day, not counting the times she asks to play it. Her absolute favorite toys right now are the bubble buckets, the paint brushes, and the Dollar Store chairs. Hooray for thrifty parenting!

14 Responses to “Thrifty Living: Water Painting”

  1. lilpyrogirl at 7:13 am #

    I invented the BEST babysitting game ever. I play the “Princess under an evil spell” (I.e. laying on the couch looking as though I’m asleep). To break the spell, the kiddos have to work together to find 3 items that I hid in areas of the house they’re allowed to play. They’ll know the items when they find them because they have a piece of ribbon pinned to them. Then I tell them what rooms the items are in. They have to break the spell without “waking the dragon” (making the dog bark), upsetting the villagers (waking up baby brother), inciting the wrath of the witch (leaving a mess), or “breaking ranks among the valiant soldiers” (fighting with each other). Once they find all three items, they have to set them atop the “Princess” and say the magic words and she’s magically healed. She then has to go inspect the house to ensure that the “wrath of the witch” has not been incited and if she finds a mess, the spell knocks her back out immediately and she falls down where she stands until the kids clean up whatever mess there is and say the magic words again. Works best among the 4 to 8 year old crowd and should buy you at least a 30 minute “rest”….more if you *really* hide the magic spell-breaking items.

    • TheRedQueen at 12:39 pm #

      HA! Awesome!

  2. Anne the Librarian at 9:07 am #

    This is brilliant.

  3. Missy at 4:06 pm #

    this is adorable. jupiter’s lucky she didn’t paint him. 🙂

  4. Trisha Church at 10:07 am #

    I think that photo of Victoria and Isobel at the fence is a prize winner! What a
    great idea for painting. It will help me whenever I have artist’s block. I can still
    paint, yet not have to worry about it making any sense. And it will evaporate before
    anyone can see my awkward strokes of frustration!

  5. K at 1:20 pm #

    In addition to the water painting, I am loving the strawberry dress.

  6. Peg Perego at 1:30 pm #

    Water painting – what a fab idea, I wish I had thought of that when mine were little. It ticks all the boxes, its cheap, leaves no mess and I can imagine it keeping kids occupied for ages.

  7. laurenhahs at 8:14 pm #

    I am using this idea the next time I watch my niece and nephew

  8. Mollie Katie at 2:29 am #

    I did a similar thing as a kid, but I mixed in leftover tempera/acrylic paint (diluted with soap) or food coloring. The paintings had color and lasted through the next afternoon’s standard 20-minute rain shower.

    • LittleBig at 11:40 am #

      I could see that being staining in my household. We are stain magnets.

  9. Adrienne at 2:28 pm #

    Great idea! I love that it gets the kids used to using paintbrushes before getting into messy things like paint. I’ve also heard of things like pudding painting…but really, when is a 2 year old with pudding NOT painting? It’s a guaranteed trip to the bathtub if I ever saw one.

    • LittleBig at 6:41 am #

      I cannot imagine that scenario ending in any other way than a total scrub down! LOL


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