Even before I had children, I loathed going to a restaurant with blaring television sets. If I wanted I watch telly, (that’s where I keep my gelato), I would do so at home. The entire point of going to a restaurant is to drin..er, I mean – break bread, with your friends and family. When I had children, I re-doubled my efforts to avoid restaurants with televisions. Quite a feat in sports loving Chicago.
Alas, though it is not always possible to avoid a Cubs, Bears, Blackhawks blasting outing, when out for a meal, I am at least comforted by the fact that my boys are spared any other screens. Not only have I never allowed them access to my iPad, I can’t imagine letting their sticky little fingers handle my phone, or whatever else is available. Instead, they have a “Magic Bag.”
Though the contents change, our makeup sized “Magic Bag”, is a lovely silver beaded bag by artisans in Haiti. Though I update and change the contents monthly, a few staples remain:
- Rory Story Cubes: Wonderful story “dice” that allow for an infinite number of story creations, as well as serving as construction toys. (To be honest, any thing with mass, serves as a “construction” toy to my 4 year old.)
- Construction Blocks (like Tegu)
- A menagerie (choking hazards for anyone under the age of 3), of lead and PBA free animals by SafariLtd.
- Crayons (No need to purchase them, we keep them from various eateries.)
- A small pencil set from Marc Jacobs’ bookstore, Book Marc
- Bits and bobs that they find. (My San Pellegrino caps became tic tac toe pieces. I just marked the X’s and O’s on the inside.)
I also always carry paper, in the form of my Moleskine notebooks. Voila!
Honestly, I have found that less I have, the more creative my sons become. You only need one makeup bag. Why should they require more? They don’t. The sparkly, beaded bag that a friend brought us from Haiti, helps with the illusion that what is in the bag is equally special. Not only does a toy bag keep your children occupied, it allows for family engagement. That’s the real “magic”, really.
-Claire, Mama of 2 boys
A three part series on keeping our kids busy without using television, netflix, iPads, and games on our phones. Stories, inspiration, and tricks from real mamas. How do you keep your kids happy and entertained without technology?