With the school year in full force, it seems like sports and activities have also made a return. That also means the insanity that is the scheduling logistics of sport teams and other activities has also returned. That definitely means that at some point, a sibling is going to get dragged along to a practice, rehearsal, or game under protest.
Keeping those siblings entertained can be a real challenge.
We’re lucky that the boys only participate in Taekwon Do, that it’s about five minutes away, and that our school isn’t so tournament heavy that it dominates our weekends. I know other parents who seem to find themselves in an increasingly complicated balancing act of practices/rehearsals/game days. The more kids and different activities they have, the more exponentially challenging it gets to juggle entertaining the kid not doing the activity.
I was recently discussing this with another mom I knew when I realized there’s probably a lot of parents in the same position, so I decided maybe it was time to share some of my non-electronic ideas on keeping siblings entertained at these events.
I admit a lot of these come from Amazon, except where I think Target has the better price, because when you’re super busy that Two-Day Prime Shipping is super convenient. As a further note, I always believe books are an option, but these ideas may help for kids who are not proficient readers, kids who find these events too distracting to read during, or kids that want some other options.
While not immediately entertaining, there are a few comfort items we find really useful for games and events.
One is a decent stadium seat. After a few tournaments sitting on middle school gymnasiums bleachers for five hours, you realize how much those things were not designed for hours on end. We have a pair of these ones from Flash Furniture for about $45 via Amazon, depending on color but stadium seats do come in variety of price and support levels.
I will say that my mother-in-law has back issues and ours really helped her get through a 4-5 hour tournament. For stretching out on grassy areas, we really like our Quilted Monkey Mat ($29.99 via Amazon). It’s water-proof, cleans easily, and folds up nice and small in its own 10×10 pouch.
Coloring/Activity Book Options:
I really like Melissa & Doug coloring/sticker books for traveling. The pages are thick, the coloring book backing is solid enough to act as a desk top if placed in a lap, and there’s a nice variety of options. Individual books have a MSRP of $4.99, but sometimes you can also find them in a bundle like with the Animal/Vehicle/Multi-Themed Set ($14.99 via Amazon) or this Princess/Fairy/Animal Set ($14.99 via Amazon).
Our favorites most recently have been the Seek & Find Books (three-pack for $14.99 via Amazon) that combines stickers and coloring. Pictures are a little smaller in these so they might be geared better for the elementary school crowd.
Another option are the reusable sicker pads that come in a variety of different themes which include this Jungle/Farm/Under the Sea Set ($14.99 via Amazon) or this House/Princess Castle/Dress-Up/Fairies Set ($17.99 via Amazon). Other individual pads include themes like Prehistoric and My Town.
For coloring, I recommend the Crayola Super Tips 100 Pack ($15.99 via Target) or the Crayola Twistable Colored Pencil 50 Pack ($12.99 Amazon Exclusive). If you want something that is safest to leave in the car, go with the Twistable Colored Pencils. No sharpening, no danger of lost marker caps, and no risk of melted crayon in your car (I live in Southern Arizona, this is a legitimate concern for us).
For older kids, coloring is not out of reaso, considering the popularity of adult coloring books, especially fandom based ones. Options include but are not limited to Harry Potter ($11.36 via Amazon), Percy Jackson ($12.30 via Amazon), Star Wars ($14.47 via Amazon), and Legend of Korra ($11.92 via Amazon). I would recommend regular colored pencils like this 100 Pack from Crayola (14.99 via Target) for those as long as you bring a small sharpener.
Puzzle games can appeal to a variety of ages including older pre-teen crowd. We like Squirrels Go Nuts! ($14.99 via Amazon) or Jump ‘in ($14.99 via Amazon) from SmartGames. Older kids might enjoy IQ Puzzler Pro ($9.99 via Amazon). ThinkFun also offers quite a few similar games including the ever popular Rush Hour ($19.99 via Amazon). There are also some single-player puzzle game suggestions over in this GeekMom post.
I hope these suggestions are a nice starting point for you. If you find yourself on-the-go a lot, I highly suggest keeping an entertainment set in the car for your kids that lives there so that you don’t have to worry that is got left in the house when someone was in a hurry.
Our “car set” includes a few coloring books and a pack of Twistable Colored Pencils that we can always count on being in the car. It meant we bought a “house set” and “car set” of those colored pencils, but I’ve never worried about not having something on hand for the kids.
Do you have personal favorite non-electronic entertainment ideas? Let us know in the comments.