I like to be prepared. I try to have baby wipes in the car, regardless of the fact that nobody is in diapers anymore. Snacks are a must have. Along with something for them to do. . . I call them boredom busters. I know that allowing kids an opportunity for boredom is important. It's when creativity really comes alive. However, I know that if that boredom appears when you aren't at home and you need them to be contained, you end up miserable and with someone in tears (like me. . . ha ha!). I have been unprepared before. It is not pretty. We are all miserable. I'm sure we've all been there.
Last night marked Ethan's first soccer practice. This week has been kind of crazy, but I grabbed a few things for Weston to do for the hour we were at the field, threw them in his activity bag I made him a few years ago, and we headed out. Last night, there was a beautiful, cool breeze and we found a shady spot and set up camp. Weston was kind of tired (kindergarten is exhausting!) and so he just sat next to me playing memory and coloring. Never once was their a complaint. We just laid there and worked on our stuff. It may have been my favorite part of the day!
I really believe that boredom striking when we are playing the waiting game is just horrible for everyone. And, made worse when it's the end of the day and everyone is pooped. The combination of exhaustion, hunger, and nothing to do just can be a bad thing in the right setting. Soccer practice for Ethan lies at a rough time. . . dinner (the time of day, where my kids sometimes turn into monsters. . . please tell me I'm not alone?!?!?). But, really, it's once a week and we make do because it's fun we have to practice sometime and any later just won't work.
We take these bags on small road trips, to doctor appointments, in the car. Basically, anywhere there is a possibility to play the "waiting game" where any form of melt down may occur, I try to bring an activity bag. We don't bring a lot of things, because it needs to be light enough a 5 year old can carry it. So here are my 5 favorite things to put in our grab and go activity bag:
1. Game - Any game will do. Yesterday we brought along Travel Memory. We also sometimes stick Spot it, Jr., Uno Jr., or more recently the card game version of Eye Found It.
2. Coloring Book and Crayons/Markers/Colored Pencils - If you pack one to keep in the car, do NOT pack crayons. . . they will melt. My favorite coloring tools for on the go are Crayola (of course!) Twistable Colored Pencils and Crayola Pipsqueak markers. I usually try to have a coloring book for something they are excited about right now (Star Wars, Avengers, Miles from Tomorrowland)
3. A book to read. I usually throw a picture book or two into the bag and if my oldest is going to be waiting, he usually grabs his latest chapter book adventure. There is also a Highlights magazine with stories and hidden pictures to look at.
4. Something hands on. We often bring these when we are on the go. They keep the kids busy in restaurants and other "waiting game" opportunities. My mom also gave us some foam pattern blocks which are also super fun to have on the go. We don't usually bring Legos, because the pieces are too small and they will get lost. But, we have brought a freezer bag with some dulpos places and that works, too.
5. A device of some sort. A lot of times, we grab the kids Leapsters and throw those in the bag, and other times we grab the Ipad. It really depends on the situation and how long we are waiting. I will note that sometimes it's hard to see the screen if you are outside and it's really bright.
Also, when we are playing the "waiting game" outside (like soccer practice), we bring out blanket out and lay on it. We can spread out and be comfortable. We have this one and I absolutely love it!
If you want some more ideas, here is my post on traveling with kids, with some more fantastic ideas!
Have a great weekend!