Busy Bags: Keeping Toddlers Occupied While You Shop

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As I sat in the doctors office waiting room, I could relate to the mother across from me.  She had to bring her kid to the office with her.  I had been blessed enough to secure a sitter for my own visit but felt bad for this mom who had to bring her child into the most unfriendly kid environment known to man.  In waiting rooms the social norm is to be quiet, keep to yourself and wait for your name to be called.  But after a few moments of “people watching” this duo, my sympathy faded for the mom.  I suddenly felt really bad for the child.

As I sat there, I watched as the child wandered, messed, jumped, talked and did whatever a normal kid would do in a boring room.  All the while the mom would look up from her cell phone every 3 minutes or so to scold the girl for running around and playing with stuff.  Once the mother had disrupted the whole waiting room with her loud correction, she’d go back to tweetering, posting, liking or whatever she was doing that kept her from being present with her child.

At that moment I made myself a promise.  That I would always have something at least available for my child to do wherever I went.  You see, this mom was obviously not wrong for taking her child with her, but simply that she was irritated with the child because of her own failed planning.  Kids are going to be kids and if you don’t give them something to do they will find something to do.

Thus after this experience I prepared the “Busy Bag” for my toddler.  I picked a few simple things that I found at home and on thrift store toy aisles:

  • Adorable Dog Bag-Skip Hop Zoo Pack Little Kid Backpack
  • Mini Magnetic Drawing Board
  • Mini etch sketch
  • 4 Large Lego’s
  • An old cell phone
  • A mini book
  • A light colored crayon and mini pad of paper
  • Snack catch cup with Gold Fish
  • Leak proof (yeah right) straw cup with water
  • Fruit Pouch (Apple Sauce & Strawberries)
  • Diapers & Wipes

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Now, these things are not always going to hold down my kid’s attention.  I realize that.  But I can avoid a lot of frustration on my own part by simply making my life easier with a little planning ahead.

If you plan to make one yourself, find those “small” favorite toys that around the house.  Pack your child’s most favorite snacks.  Bring along things that you know your kid gets absorbed with and hope for the best!

I keep this little bag of goodies with my purse so that anytime I go out the door I can grab it and go.  These toys are dedicated to this bag.  They never leave the bag except when my kid is playing with them in shopping cart.

For extreme occasions, such as doctors visits I do bring along the Kindle Fire HD
with his favorite cartoon downloaded on the device.  This is for emergencies only.  Although, I have seen kids totally absorbed in a tablet while mom shops.  If that works for you, great!  I’m just not prepared to hand mine over to be chucked out of the cart when he’s done with it.  He’s a little young for that much freedom.

These would also make a great gift idea for a toddler in your life!  Put together a special bag of stickers and fun items for going out and about!

Kim Anderson