Oh, the waiting! As we head into another weekend full of cross country meets and theater rehearsals, I am refreshing my Bag of Tricks, as I call it, for the littles. Of course, we try to 'divide and conquer' as much as possible, and carpool, and all of those things....but the reality is that the life of these younger siblings most definitely involves some serious waiting around for their older brothers. I'm mindful that this isn't something that the oldest two really had to do much of, and wanting as much as possible to make all that 'waiting' something fun, pleasant and not dreaded by the younger kids. This takes just a little bit of planning ahead, but it's so worth it in keeping the peace and something of a rhythm in our days! Sometimes, the kids will bring something of their own that they're working on (Adelaide has been packing her knitting a lot lately, smart girl), but I always have, on standby and ready at the door, my Bag of Tricks which gets refreshed with a little something different each time. It's gotten easier of late to do so, as I realize the elements I always want with us. I thought I'd share today, in case it is helpful to you and yours too!
Nourishment - Food, of course, is critical, especially as it seems that so many of these activities fall in the challenging 'almost dinner' hours! We've been rocking these granola bars like crazy lately - they're so incredibly easy to make, store well, and make everyone happy. Food, and of course, water. There's nothing worse than empty water bottles on a journey out from home! I fill plenty.
Warmth - As we head into the cooler seasons, standing shivering on the side of race that you don't particularly care to be at to begin with, is no fun at all (I'm talking of the little kids here, mind you. I'm turning into quite a fan!). But more than just staying warm, I think there's something really comforting and securing to the little ones when they start to feel overwhelmed, overstimulated, or just plain tired and bored. Wrapping up in a cozy blanket and going inward is sometimes just the thing. Additionally, a blanket thrown down just about anywhere - a field or a waiting room - can instantly create a whole little world of space, creativity, and peace amidst the chaos around us.
Art - Always, always. It keeps our hands busy! I've been traveling lately with some coloring books - those that are just for this very purpose - and markers, which isn't something we use regularly at home. The specialness of these only being used when we're out and about makes them all the more appealing and interesting when the time comes.
Story - There are always a few books in my Bag of Tricks, and I swap them out when I remember to do so. Elsa Beskow always is a standby that can reach the spread of my younger three - from four to ten - with joy. And an easy chapter book is always good too - short stories like Old Mother West Wind and the like.
Action - And of course, something to do with each other, both in a physical way and a more quiet way, depending on the mental and physical space we're in. We keep a soccer ball in the back of the car always, and a frisbee too. But in my Bag of Tricks is always a game as well - Rat-A-Tat Cat has been coming along lately, or just a simple deck of playing cards.
Such simple things, really, it hardly feels worth sharing here. But then again, the few minutes a day that I spend thinking about these things and planning for them makes a world of difference in our experience as a family. It can turn our time out there in the world 'waiting' together from something challenging into time that feels intentional and good, where everyone's time is valued. And of course, a happy family makes for the best cheering team of all - from the sidelines or the audience, whatever it may be.