By: Shayne R.
It would be nice if you could lock down a babysitter for your young kids every time you had a fiesta to attend, but it’s not realistic. And, even if you could, many parties and occasions are family-oriented and you’re expected to bring along even the youngest of children, but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy to keep them happy in such a setting. From baby showers and birthday parties to holiday dinners and weddings, social events can get pretty boring for young kids. That can mean hours of sitting at a table, long waits for food, missed naps and more, which could all lead to meltdowns and embarrassing predicaments. But don’t let it stress you out too much -- with a bit of planning, you can minimize the chances of having to deal with bored, unruly children. Of course, small children are unpredictable, so these tips aren’t guaranteed, but they should buy you at least a couple of hours.
Activities & Toys:
The Busy Box. Fill a small box with a lid with some found objects and tiny toys and bring it along. The kids can simply explore the objects, they can invent games with them or even sort them into categories.
Art Supplies. Crayons are a classic and should be in any mom’s arsenal, but stickers, self-inking stamps and washable markers and a small notepad are all perfect for table time at an event.
Stacking Items. What kid doesn’t love building towers? Whether you bring blocks or stacking cups from home or you collect paperware at the party, your kiddos will have fun building structures out of them.
Eye Spy/Scavenger Hunt . A quiet game of eye spy should work to keep your kids distracted and seated for a while. Depending on the venue and crowd, you could even amp this idea up by turning it into a scavenger hunt. Say to your child for example, “I spy something red and round,” and have him find it and bring it back to you.
Puzzles. I’m a huge fan of puzzles for kids of all ages. You can find tiny pocket puzzles online and at some toy stores that are easy to tote around, some with as little as three or four pieces so even young toddlers can do them. If you’re in a pinch, you can even download a free children’s puzzle app.
Snacks on Deck. Don’t forget a snack and drink. Parties often happen outside of traditional meal times and the wait for food can be long. A snack could save your sanity.
Choose your seat wisely. If there isn’t assigned seating, look out for tables near other families with kids and sit there. The children can play with each other and keep each other entertained for a while and if something does go awry you’re likely to be surrounded by people who are a little more understanding of your situation.
Accept help. There’s someone at every party who adores children and would be happy to spend a couple hours playing with your kiddos, usually older kids and teenagers or the grandmotherly types. Go ahead and let them play with your kids for bit while you mingle. If it’s a trusted family member, even better. Just make sure your young kids are always within your line of sight, in case of any problems.
Tip: If you’re hosting a family-friendly party, set up some fun areas for kids to enjoy so their parents can have some grown-up downtime. A dress-up station, a drawing table, board games, a movie, etc. are all great options. You could even hire a babysitter to keep the kids entertained and safe in a separate area so the adults can really kick back.
What types of activities does your child typically enjoy most?