It's not easy for sitters to come up with creative and safe things to do with young kids. To help yours out -- and make sure your toddler has a ball:
Before she arrives, hide a dozen blocks around the house. As soon as you leave, she and your child can start hunting for them together (which may make it easier for you to get out the door). Once the sleuthing twosome locates them all, they can take turns hiding and searching for them again.
Set out old magazines, glue, child-safe scissors, washable markers, construction paper, envelopes, and a list of upcoming relatives' or friends' birthdays. Ask them to make cards for everyone on the list.
Pull out several blankets or sheets as well as pillows and any large cardboard boxes you might have lying around the house. The reason: to make clubhouses or forts!
Encourage the pair to have a tea party or picnic with real or pretend treats. They can spread a blanket on the floor and invite a few stuffed guests too.
For some rain-or-shine fun, have your child gather up his favorite outdoor toys -- balls, ride-ons, sidewalk chalk, and so forth -- then put them in what will be (once you leave) the empty garage.