We were having dinner at a little restaurant in Vienna when I noticed Georgie and his tablet seemed to be getting a lot of attention from the people around us. It didn’t occur to me at the time but later on I realised that tablets/iPads/tech gadgets weren’t popular among kids at restaurants or coffee shops. Actually I don’t think I saw a single child carrying or playing on one the whole time we were there.
It made me wonder about the type of entertainment we offer our kids when we’re busy or -shock! horror!- when we want them to ‘leave us alone’.
Most times I carry his tablet with me and I have a few ‘games’ and educational apps on my phone but then there are times when I will make the effort to pack his backpack with one or two alternative activities.
Here’s what I include:
1. Colouring book and pencils: This is the most obvious choice, right? What I like to do is keep a stash of the really thin types of colouring books with five or six pages at the most so I can surprise him with a new one when we’re out and about. He also has a full pencil case exclusively kept for outings.
2. Lego: My son is obsessed with Lego and particularly the tiny ones. He can spend hours during the day making spaceships and cars and monsters. So lately I’ve started putting a couple of handfuls of pieces in a ziplock bag and putting it in his backpack. Yes, we do end up losing a couple and bending over more than thrice to pick up pieces dropped on the floor but it keeps him busy and happy.
3. Stickers: This isn’t always a good idea because I have had to peel them off restaurant tables and chairs in the past but there are times when they do work. Like when he plasters his arms and legs and clothes. I’ve also packed blank sheets of paper or torn out magazine pages for a twist.
4. Learning activities: Now that Georgie is old enough to ‘read’ and ‘count’ he loves new learning material so I print out a few pages with additions and other learning activities. He mutters alot to himself while doing them and it always makes me smile.
5. Play a game: I know I said this post is about keeping them busy which means leaving you alone to enjoy a chat with a friend over coffee or lunch but I think there should always be a gap where we can interact. So we play a number of games like ‘how many…’ (cars, colours, etc) or the verbal memory game. This involves me saying the names of four to five objects and then having him draw them on a piece of paper, all the while trying to remember what I said.
I would love to hear what you do or take with you to keep them busy. Please share your thoughts and ideas.