When our oldest was about a year old, I saw a really cute tutorial (on Pinterest, I’m sure…) about turning a toiletry travel kit into a restaurant bag for small children. It would hold wipes, straws, kids-sized utensils, disposable bibs, and maybe some stickers, crayons, and paper… I tried to make that, though mine admittedly wasn’t nearly as cute as the one in the tutorial. The idea stuck, though, and almost 5 years later, and we still have a restaurant “Go” bag!
It’s morphed over the years and become decidedly less cute, but man does it get used! That adorable toiletry kit was quickly swapped for a reusable grocery tote, but now that tote hangs on a hook by our garage and gets grabbed to “Go” just about anywhere we may need to pass the time! We take it to restaurants, siblings’ dance classes or soccer games, car tune-up appointments, the doctor’s office. If an outing might involve one or both girls sitting and waiting, we grab that bag and “Go!”
So, what is in the bag, you ask? It varies! I *try* to switch it up when I rotate books in the girls’ rooms, so that the activities in there stay fresh and exciting. (Try is the key word there, though, just as it is with book rotation…).
Other items that frequently make their way into our beloved tote:
- wipe-off coloring or activity books with Crayola dry erase markers (these are the best dry erase markers to get for kids because they’re erasable… Most other brands aren’t!). We’ve had some of our wipe-off activity books for more than 3 years now, and they’re still amazing and wonderful and highly recommended.
- clipboards. Be sure to check out my post on why we love clipboards!
- play dough. Sometimes it’s a plastic container of homemade dough, other times we have grabbed the tiny containers of Play-Doh from the store and throw a few of those in.
- PLUS PLUS Construction Building Toys. We got two of the “mini maker tubes” for the girls’ stockings one year for Christmas. The tubes are perfect for tossing in a purse, diaper bag, or “Go” bag!
- stencils. I grabbed a few stencil sets in the Target Dollar Spot a year or so ago and rotate those in with some blank paper frequently.
- markers. We’ve got a set that lives in this pencil case to be grabbed easily.
- colored pencils, crayons, or Crayola Twistables
- Magnetic Story and Play Scenes. We’ve got Wild Animals, Under the Sea, and On the Farm.
- mini puzzles
- coloring books. My girls currently love anything color by number, such as this (for the 3.5-year-old) or this (for the 5.5-year-old). The Target Dollar Spot also usually has seasonal coloring books that we’ll grab when we see them.
- Paint by Sticker books. We currently just have the kids’ books, but our first-grade niece does the adult ones, so we may try one of those soon.
- Usborne sticker books
- magnetic drawing boards. We love our old Fisher-Price one (it’s similar to this, but since ours is almost 5 years old and still going strong, I couldn’t find the exact model we have), and this one from Handwriting Without Tears.
- Mini Buddha Boards. These are very cool for painting, repainting, and zoning out with just water!
- a few books
- (newly added 3/20/19) Floss & Rock Magnetic Dress Up Dolls– we’ve got Alfie, and the girls LOVE him!
- (newly added 3/20/19) eeboo Mini Puzzles— We’ve got “Finding Treasure” and “Mushroom Umbrella.” For a mini puzzle, these are such high quality! The pieces are sturdy and easy to put together, and the puzzles challenging but not too hard. The final puzzle assembles to be about 7″x8.5″, perfect for a restaurant table before food comes!
- (newly added 8/29/19) card games! A few favorites include Sleeping Queens, Alphabet Go Fish, and Rat-a-Tat-Cat.
I store most of these things on a special shelf and keep them out of our typical toy and activity rotations. That makes them seem even more novel and exciting, helpful for when we really need to buy time.
*** Most links above are Amazon Affiliate links. Each time you purchase from my Affiliate links, you pay the same price but I receive a tiny commission, which allows me to buy more books to share with you! ***
Do you have a restaurant or “Go” bag? What activities do you like to keep in yours? Comment below to spread wonderful ideas and help other parents pass the time with an alternative to screens!