If you grew up in the United States in the late 80s, chances are you probably read the Babysitter’s Club books, and if that describes you, then we can probably learn a lot about your personality by asking you who was the best babysitter and who was the most annoying. (Obviously the answers are Dawn and Claudia.) Anyway, you’ll also remember that the Babysitters made a “Kid Kit”, i.e. a container full of rando toys to whip out when small children have meltdowns or complain that they’re bored. Though they described the Kid Kit’s contents in every single book, all I remember is that it contained finger paints, which I now believe to be an absolutely terrible thing to give a cranky toddler.
All that to say: I made a Kit Kit for Alex.
I actually made this for our flight to the United States over Christmas, having learned last year that having a bored toddler on a 9-hour flight suuuucks balls. I filled it with a lot of small, cheap stuff, like tiny cans of play-doh, a coloring pad, photos from daycare, some toy cars, tiny dinosaurs in a plastic egg, and lots and lots of stickers. But wait, there’s more!
Because this thing had to get smushed in my backpack, I abandoned my original idea of a cardboard box and instead sewed a pouch for it.
The outer material is twill recycled from discarded Brent pants, and the bright green zipper is from an old Ikea slipcover. I lined it with that crazy Ikea hippo fabric I have a thousand meters of.
I feel really good about this, because it was so effective. Here are some things I learned:
1. You can find way more fun, cheap crap in the United States, especially at the Family Dollar in Buchanan, GA.
2. My son doesn’t really care for coloring books so much as he likes throwing colored pencils on the airplane floor.
3. My son really loves stickers.
4. Play-doh is not messier than eating airplane food in a tiny seat, so it’s really ok to bring.
5. Tiny toy surprises in egg-type containers are SO exciting for little kids.
6. You really need to pace yourself and budget the stuff in the pouch so that you don’t run out. I gave Alex a new toy roughly once an hour, and that was generally enough to entertain him.
7. You’re going to l throw a lot of lint- and hair-covered play-doh in airport trashcans, and you’ll lose a lot of toys, but don’t worry about this because other kids will find them. We accidentally sent a squishy Ninja-Turtle head rolling all the way down the aisle of a plane, and later, while standing in line at U.S. customs in Chicago, I saw another kid happily playing with it.
8. Even with 12 hours’ worth of toys, your toddler is still going to want to run around and do things like ride the escalator at the airport, and it will probably be when you want to sleep. I think it’s best just to surrender at that point and get your ass on that escalator.