On Sunday, my son volunteered to carry “the activity bag” into Church, and I could not stop laughing at the photo I snapped (above). Why does he look like a tiny adult? I sent it to my sister with the subtitle: “Do I have to do everything around here?” and added: “Why does he have the body language of an irritated parent?” She responded: “Zach, did you at least remember to get tomatoes at the grocery?!” Ha!
A few Magpies responded to the photo when I shared it on Instagram asking what I keep in my Church activity bag, and I thought I’d share my process, which has worked really well for us. For the past few years, I’ve kept a big tupperware bin of children’s activities in my studio closet. I will periodically add to the stash and remove depleted coloring books or work pads that my children have outgrown, but my rule is this: these items only come out when we are leaving the house (at Church, at a restaurant, at the doctor’s office, for my son while sitting on the sidelines at my daughter’s soccer games) and they go right back into the bin when we return home. This means that the children find near-constant delight in whatever is in my “activity bag,” because they do not have constant access to its contents, and I’m rotating what’s offered every trip. Just before we head out the door, I’ll decant a handful of activities into my LL Bean tote, toss in more snacks than I think we’ll need (still swear by these Beaba containers for cut fruit and small pours of goldfish, crackers, pretzels, etc — great for Church, too, because otherwise the littles are loudly ripping and crinkling the snack bags), and we’re off.
A few staples in the bin (and P.S. – a lot of these would make great little gifts or stocking stuffers for the holiday gifting season) —
01. Usborne sticker books. The absolute best. Highly detailed and whimsical — these keep my children busy for long periods of time. Lots of designs available!
02. This marker set. (Makes for easy transit, works even on airplanes/in car because each marker is secured in little prongs, and they never dry out because the children aren’t able to just leave them around sans caps.)
03. Alphabet and numbers pad. (My kids love, love these?)
04. These mini search and finds come with special pens — very popular. Something about the novelty pen makes it exciting.
06. These artfolios from a limited edition Isaac Mizrahi collab with State. I bought a few more awhile back while on sale — these make great gifts. The children love them!
07. Paint by Sticker books. My son particularly loves these — he’s excellent at puzzles / spatial games so these are right up his alley.
09. Ooly sketch pads. My children love having their own designated notebooks/pads, and the animal designs from Ooly are cute.
10. Ed Emberley drawing books. We’ve built up a library of these — my daughter LOVES them. She’s becoming quite the illustrator!
11. Boogie board.
13. On the snacks front: a mom in my son’s class sends in a “tower” of snacks each day using a contraption like this — brilliant! I’m also still loving these B. Box snack containers. They’re the perfect small size, easy to open, easy to clean, and they always invite me to pair a vegetable/fruit with something crunchy.
14. Mini dry-erase board.
15. These boat totes are the best for this kind of schlepping and storage, especially since they have the flat bottom and can stand upright on their own, and they aren’t too precious that you’ll scream when a marker marks up the side or snacks spill everywhere.
16. You’ve never seen humans more worried about their hydration than my children when they realize we forgot their water bottles. Doesn’t matter if we’re gone for an hour. They are suddenly the most parched people on the planet. These Yetis are still my favorite. Easy to fill, not a ton of parts to clean, keep water cold, do not spill. They are a tad heavy for the tiny ones though.
17. From the aforementioned game list!
Not seen above, but worth a mention:
+Pipsticks stickers. I actually have a subscription and we receive new stickers each month! I dole them out carefully, and I always have a few in my bin.
+Water Wow deluxe books. They now strongly prefer these “deluxe” ones with the magnifying glass.
P.S. Maintaining wonder as a parent.
P.P.S. Motherhood emotions can be such a mystery. Sometimes, still, I’m gobsmacked by the intensity of certain transitions.
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