Have you ever been somewhere with your ‘little angel” and then realized that this appointment/haircut/interview was going to be a lot longer than you expected? If you are like me your first reaction may be “shut” (as Kid2 says, obviously mishearing Mom1’s favorite expletive), and then to try to figure out some sort of independent entertainment for the next 15/30/45/60 minutes. For example…
Three years ago we were in the Toronto’s International Airport waiting for immigration personnel to review and renew our visa application when time came to a standstill. As I nervously watched the minutes tick on by, and as our friendly immigration officer take his sweet time, I was faced with the task of keeping Kid1 and Kid2 quiet and in control. Shut. Shut. Shut. I was wildly underprepared and had nothing except lollipops with which to try to buy some time!
A few months ago when I went to pick up my new contact lenses with Kid2 in tow, my ophthalmologist insisted on a full fledged fitting. I knew this wasn’t necessary as I’ve been wearing the same contacts for waaaaaay longer than this doctor had been free and clear of med school, but unfortunately the newbie-Doc didn’t agree, and wouldn’t give me my eyes until a full fitting was complete. Shut. Shut. Shut.
And finally, another instance come to mind where I promised my kids that a stop at their school during off-hours was going to be a quick meeting to review some curriculum questions. 45 minutes later the kids were full fledged animals – and truthfully I was to blame. Shut. Shut. Shut.
Now I know I am not alone in these situations, and so I am happy to share some of the treasures I hide away in my car for times like these. My husband tells me that it’s like my car has become another room in our house. He doesn’t even let the kids into his car, let alone drive a car pool once in a while. In fact, when he does take the kids anywhere, we ALWAYS switch cars.
Back to the point…In addition to tennis rackets, books, music, sand toys, extra clothes, band aids, snacks, sunglasses, and random toys I have some hidden gems. In my middle console there is a stash of card games for emergency delay situations. I rotate them so that the kids (translation – the Mom) doesn’t get bored playing them. Crazy 8s, Uno, Go Fish, Old Maid, Sets, Hearts, Rummy, and a regular 52 card old deck. Card games are always fun, easy to take out and clean up, and are light enough to carry in a pocket or my purse. Hit the travel or card game aisle at your local dollar store or toy store and you can collect all of these games for less than $10.
My local dollar store also stocks invisible ink story books. Have you ever given a kid an invisible ink book? If not, you must, immediately. There is nothing quite like the way that kids respond to invisible ink books – they are like manicures for Moms or days off for Dads. Sure, they are busy work for kids and they are sort of crafty without making a gigantic and embarrassing mess. Invisible ink books are small enough to fit in my purse, and come in a variety of themes – mostly related to Disney and Superheroes. With invisible ink books kids actually think they are getting some huge present – which is a nice bonus.
And finally, on a visit to a local restaurant my kids were thrilled when the hostess switched up the tired crayons and colorable menu and handed over a package of Wikki Stix for each of them. Brilliant! If you’ve never had a chance to play with Wikki Stix, they are thin pieces of wax, which come in a variety of colors, are bendable, and re-useable. You can buy them in different sized packages, and even the little restaurant-sized package gave the kids enough Wikki Stix and ideas to get started. I, however, learned the hard way that you can’t keep them in your car in the summer (Wikki Mush), but they are definitely worth remembering to keep around for emergencies or for a trip out for dinner.
*Disclaimer: I would be a liar if I didn’t add that many times I will simply throw my kids my iPhone and let them have at a wide choice of games and apps. I do, however, think it is nice to have options, in case I want to have the chance to play Angry Birds! Besides I want to write a blog about my kids’ favorite apps one day…so I’ll save the topic for another time.