I’m not the type to lug around a big bag full of toys and books when I go out with my kids. It just never crossed my mind. After all, I hardly remember to bring wipes and extra shirts for them!
We have recently been out and about more than usual. And strange as it my sound, it just dawned on me one time that my children are quite well behaved. They are so very easy to be with, even when we were out really late.
I realized that because I wasn’t whipping out an iPad, a book, or a sword out of my bag, Little T and Little Sir found ways to occupy themselves. I decided to observe them some more and discovered 4 things kids get to do when they don’t have entertainment in front of them.
1. They practice their observation skills
Observing people and surroundings is not just idling about, but is actually a great learning activity. Children think about what they have observed and make conclusions about it.
Like other curious kids, my son notices the most mundane details about people and things. He lets simmer what he has seen in the cauldron of his mind and asks me about them days or weeks after.
2. They talk to people
Tablets and smartphones are the death of conversations. Instead of talking to each other, we tend to just look down on those little bright screens.
Banning gadgets when going out has allowed our family to be engaged with each other. We talk, laugh, and just enjoy each other’s company. It has also enabled us to encourage our usually reserved daughter to “go ask the waiter,” “tell the lady what you need,” and “say hi to the little girl if you want to play with her.”
3. They get creative
I believe in children’s innate ability to make up something with what appears to be nothing. After all, I was a child once and in the period of daily nationwide black outs at that!
Experts agree that boredom should be welcomed, because as Dr. Teresa Belton says, it is “an important trigger for creativity.” My children’s creativity on a restaurant table actually inspired this blog post. They found the order number stand fascinating and made up stories around it as they pretended that it was a slide.
4. They try different activities
Without a book or a toy to distract them into their own zone, kids get to look around and see what they can possibly do. This leads them to try activities they might have otherwise missed.
My aunt recently died and during the wake, I couldn’t help my cousin because Little Sir was asleep in my arms. And though “enjoy” is a word I’d rather not use in relation to death, Little T enjoyed her time offering food and drinks to other mourners. She hadn’t done anything like it before.
My bag usually only has Little Sir’s superman cape-cum-bib and it’s a major effort to remember to bring extra shirts and snacks for him and his sister. Blame my forgetfulness and general disorganization, but I don’t mind not bringing anything else, especially entertainment, when we go out. My kids don’t need it.
What have you observed about your kids when you go out?