It’s happened to every parent at one time or another. You are out in public and your child starts to melt down.
Maybe you tried to run too many errands at one time. Maybe it’s past lunch time, dinner time, or nap time. Maybe you’re on a road trip. What do you do now?
In today’s world, kids often rely on video games, videos, and other techno gadgets to amuse themselves in the car. But sometimes those aren’t an option.
When your kids are young, you usually have a diaper bag with plenty of extra stuff: clothes, toys, bottles, juice boxes, and snacks.
As your kids get older, you may only carry your own purse with not much room for extra stuff. You might also think that you’ve outgrown the need to amuse kids.
Regardless of how old children are, there are times that it will be in your best interests to be prepared with things to amuse them, at least for a while.
This includes times when you’re traveling to visit faraway relatives, when you get tied up waiting in line somewhere, or when you’re at church, school events, or others places you need your child to keep quiet.
Here are some ideas for take-along small items you can keep with you when you’re on the road or out with children. Keep a separate bag in the car for stressful times in the car.
On long road trips, help each child pack a backpack with snacks and small amusements that she can take out to use by herself.
For your Mom’s magical bag of tricks, you can use a big ziploc baggie to hold items, a zippered pencil bag, or a reusable cloth bag that you always carry along.
Some of these are items you may already have in your purse but others are items you might consider adding.
Feed the hungry beast
- Always have a juice box or two
- A bottle of water can be used to water juice down
- Cheerios, goldfish, raisins, crackers, dried fruit
- Peppermints for older kids
- Fruit snacks
- Gummy candy
Tiny toys amuse kids
- Matchbox or Hot Wheels cars
- Polly Pockets
- Fisher Price Little People
- Green Army men
- Action figures
- Small dinosaurs or zoo animals
- Thomas trains
- My Little Pony or Little Pet Shop
- Micro Machine cars or trucks
- Small set of Legos
- Super balls or other small balls
Quiet time activities
- Roll up pack of crayons
- Small pad of paper
- Coloring book or maze book
- Collector cards
- Paper and pencil or pen
- Easy reader books
- Deck of cards
- Small photo album with family photos
- Red, yellow, and blue crayons
- Index cards
- Kids sunglasses
- Comic books
- Card games like Old Maid, Fish, and others
- Road map
- Spiral notebook and pencil or pen for each child
- Favorite blanket
- Favorite stuffed animal
- Toddler keys
- Plastic connecting rings
- Cloth or board books
Mom’s stuff to use in an emergency
- Folding mirror
- Hair brush
- Hair bows, ties, or barrettes
- Chap stick
- Spare keys
- Business cards and pen
- Loose change (for kids old enough not to eat)
- i-Phone (with kids old enough to use alone)
First Aid kit stuff
- Your car should not be without a first aid kit
- Hand sanitizer
- Small pack of antiseptic wipes
- Antibiotic ointment
- Hydrocortisone cream
- Insect bite swabs
- Gauze pads and tape
- Children’s Tylenol
- Instant cold pack
More traveling tips
You would have to carry a very large bag to hold all of this, but most moms can add a few things to your purse without any problem.
Some of these items can be kept in your car, either in the back seat pockets or in a tote bag. For road trips, pack a separate carry along bag for each child.
When going on a trip, let your child help pack some favorite toys. Keep a separate bag up front and switch out toys.
For long trips, wrap individual small items and let kids unwrap one item every hour, two hours, or few hours depending on the length of the trip.
Shop the dollar store, yard sales, consignment shops, or dollar bins at Target, Wal-Mart, and Michael’s to save money.
Go through outgrown toys and pack some to use as road trip toys. Kids enjoy playing with toys that they’ve not seen in a while.
One of my family’s traditions is a small ziploc baggie of loose candy for each child at the beginning of the trip. We survived many trips to Kansas using this trick.
The alphabet game uses up a lot of time on road trips. Make a contest out of finding each letter from A-Z on billboards. This can also be done using the numbers 1-9.
A first aid kit should stay in your car at all times for emergency use. Update supplies before going on a trip.
Being prepared with tricks to keep your child amused will help you to do what you need to do and keep your sanity.
A special thanks to all of my Facebook friends who offered their best Mom’s bag of tricks ideas. These ideas also work great for grandparents.