Lines…car rides…more lines…errands…grocery stores…doctors visits…waiting rooms…
It’s the season of Giving and also can be the season of running around being busy. This can be fun, but also really taxing on the little ones.
Too often I’m standing in the helpless situation wishing I had SOME idea of rescuing myself from a potentially embarrassing moment of “Gain Control Of Your Kids Now”. If you stumble upon this moment yourself in the upcoming weeks, perhaps these quick thoughts can come to mind:
Some tips on keeping them happy and busy while you get things done while out and about?
*at the store or mall*
Tally Ho: Let your child keep track of how many teddy bears (or people wearing purple shirts or men with moustaches) he can see while strolling through the mall. Give him a piece of paper and a crayon to keep count, and tally his finds at the end of your outing.
Talk to the Hand: Put a small plastic shopping bag on your hand, and, as you push your child in her stroller or a cart, let the plastic bag be a puppet, narrating what you see and “talking” to your child.
Get The Wiggles Out: Take a break. Shopping will be more fun for everyone if the kids can recycle some energy. Most malls have play areas, and if not, rides on the escalators can be just as fun. Or stopping in a toy store to play for a few minutes. Turn your focus on them for 10 minutes, and they are more apt to stay with you for the long haul.
*in the waiting room*
Magazine “I Spy”: Open a magazine to a page with lots of photos. Tell your child that you spy something green, or something he likes to eat. He guesses what you’re looking at (you can give him “warm” and “cold” hints), then it’s your turn.
Mini-hide-and-seek: Close your eyes, and ask your child to hide a small toy in the waiting room for you to find. Now hide it yourself. Or, to keep still, draw a small doodle in a notebook. Close the notebook, then have your child find it again.
Insta-Puzzle: Tear a magazine subscription card into four or five pieces, and have your child put them back together.
Float Or Sink: I was desperate, but this worked! If you have a half-filled water bottle or sippy cup and lots of junk and crumbs in your diaper bag, this is for you. Let your child see what floats or sinks. How about a little piece of paper or a piece of cereal? A raisin? A coin?
*in the car*
Magnet Magic: Give your child a baking sheet with plenty of big fun-shaped magnets on it to move around and play with (easy to stash under the seat when he’s not using it!)
Laughing All the Way: You say “ha”. They say “ha-ha”. Now you add one more “ha”. The object: to keep the ha’s going without actually laughing (but it gets your kids giggling!)
Stickers: Just keep them in your purse, and a sturdy piece of cardboard. In the car, in line, at the store, this easy and absorbing craft goes everywhere with you and you can pull it out in a pinch.
*waiting in line*
Cereal Drop: Set an empty cup on the floor next to you and challenge your kids to drop a piece of cereal, coin, small toy, or anything else in your pockets into the cup.
Strike a Pose: Both of you make a funny face and hold it until the line moves. The first person to move before the line progresses “loses” and the other person gets to invent the next pose.
Yes, I’ve done each of these activities for the sake of my sanity and my kids happiness. And surprisingly, it works. The errand goes better, and I feel like I’ve done something to connect with them through the business we call errands.