Keeping Younger Siblings Busy During Big Kid Activities


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A boy stands at bat.

Are you having a hard time keeping younger siblings busy while you’re at the big kid activities?

There is an eight-year age gap between my oldest and youngest children. This age gap means my younger kids are tagging along for all kinds of events for their older siblings.

We regularly attend baseball games and practices, soccer games and practices, swim meets and practices, ballet classes and recitals, and Cub Scout events. It’s not always easy to keep the little ones entertained during these long, sometimes very hot, practices and games.

I have a few tools in my belt to help make the events more enjoyable for the little guys, and therefore more enjoyable for mom.

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I think this goes without saying but bring snacks. All the snacks! And if necessary/practical, pack a meal.

Kids love to have picnics, it takes up a good amount of time for the little guys to eat, and hopefully it will save you from doing a few dishes that day!

For Toddlers

Sidewalk chalk :: This one won’t work for every event, but it works well for us at baseball games and practices. I keep a small selection of sidewalk chalk in the car just for these events.

Bubbles :: I’m sure we’ve all witnessed the magic of bubbles for toddlers. The beauty of this is that bigger kids like to blow the bubbles for the little ones. That gives mom an opportunity to actually watch the game!

A toddler girl catches bubbles outside.

Cooler of ice :: Especially in the summer, a cooler of ice and a few plastic cups will keep little ones entertained (and a little cooler) for a really long time.

Water play :: Along the same lines, my youngest loves to play in the water fountains, especially the dog bowl ones, when we’re at the park. If you don’t have a water fountain nearby, here are a few options you can bring with you: play sink or portable water table. Make sure you have a towel and an extra set of clothes in the car for the ride home!

Trucks :: This set of trucks has held up in our house for many, many years. What I really like about them is that you push them forward to get them to move. It’s much easier than the pull back trucks for really little guys.

For Elementary-Aged Kids

Drawing tablet :: These LCD drawing tablets are fun, ultra-portable, and can be used for long time. Pro-tip: tie the stylus to the tablet before you leave the house. And if you happen to find a bright blue stylus at the Lookout Fields in Richardson, you’ll know it’s mine.

Coloring :: Coloring or drawing books are easy and portable. Make sure you are substituting colored pencils or markers for crayons in the heat of the summer!

Books :: My kids love to read, so asking them to bring a book along is an easy win for us. For kids who can’t read on their own yet, lift-the-flap books, like these can keep them entertained for a long time.

A young girl reads a book on a bench outside.

Scorekeeping :: A good way to keep younger siblings engaged in sporting events is to teach them to keep score. This can be as simple or as complex as you (and they) are interested in. My son loves to keep score in soccer games. He keeps a tally sheet for each half. If they’re really interested in the stats, they could include names/numbers of the players who scored and made assists.

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A key element to getting a lot of these ideas to work is novelty. Keep these items in the car (or garage) and only bring them out during games and practices. Making them special usually makes my kids want to play with them longer. If you’re lucky, you may also find help from the siblings of teammates.

A lot of the older kids look forward to playing with my little ones when they have the chance. It’s important to our family to support each other in the things we enjoy. So, while it is hard to keep younger siblings busy and entertained now, I’m hopeful it will pay off and the support they show will be returned when they’re old enough to participate in their own activities.


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