I have come across countless articles, blog posts and jokes poking fun at new parents leaving the house with a baby for the first time. We are presented with images of parents packing everything but the kitchen sink into their cars for a ten minute trip up the road or arriving at their destination over two hours late because it takes so long to get out of the house.
As funny as all of these are let me tell you that they are no joke.
I recall the days where I needed a trillion nappies because the day I only packed six was the day that my baby blew out all six of them; when only one spare outfit wasn’t enough because inevitably my daughter would have a nappy malfunction, crawl through a puddle and throw up all over herself all within five minutes of me putting on each new outfit (true story) or when I would need to pack two full packs of wet wipes (one plus a spare) because the day I dashed out without any was the day my daughter had a SERIOUS nappy malfunction all down her legs.
I went through all of this twice and when my youngest turned two I knew that those days were over (whew). My eldest is completely potty trained and although my youngest is still in nappies I have her nappy habits mostly figured out and I can get away with a mini pack of wipes and 2 nappies stuffed into my handbag. What I hadn’t anticipated was how I now had to be prepared in a completely different way.
You see, I have two daughters who, although very intelligent, have the attention span of a goldfish (apparently about 3 seconds), which can make going on outings like grocery shopping or out to dinner (at a restaurant without a playground) interesting and challenging and sometimes even painful.
As tempting as it is to barricade myself in my house in order to avoid the challenge I know that this just isn’t practical (or healthy for anyone) and so I have had to resort to my magic entertainment bag. It sounds much more exciting that it really is; which is a bag of stuff to keep my children entertained.
What I did was I prepared a bag with a few different items to keep the children busy and out of mischief (mostly) and I have to say that since I introduced it, it has definitely made life easier.
My entertainment bag consists of:
• 2 wooden toys: a magnetic fishing game and a wooden lacing game. Both are small and light and they can swop when they get bored.
• 2 sets of notebooks, stickers and crayons
• A few thin, light colouring books
• 2 Age appropriate books
• 2 Mini princess books
I have used the bag
• When going out to a non-playground restaurant (because there are very few restaurants in Johannesburg with indoor play areas to cater for the colder weather)
• When going to a meeting and needing to take my youngest daughter with me
• When the children get bored while I am out running errands and doing things like grocery shopping
• When I get stuck in horrific loadshedding traffic
The bag is kept in the car and the children are only allowed to play with the contents when we are out and about. I find that this keeps the bag interesting and this is especially effective when I haven’t used it for a while and they have forgotten about most of the items.
So, if the thought of any kind of outing with your children terrifies you I urge you to try out some form of an entertainment bag. It can be as big or as small as you like it (just remember that inevitably you are the one who is going to end up carrying it) and you can even rotate the items that you put in it. It really has helped with my two children and the last time my husband and I went out to dinner we got the children their own table next to ours and they happily played, read and ate THE WHOLE TIME. Winner!