My Hidden Toy Stash
- What: Toys for Unexpected Delays
- When: Stuck in traffic or lines
- Why: Novelty, sanity, and flexibility
- Where: In your car
I keep a bag of toys stashed in my car for quasi-emergencies, much like I keep a bag of spare clothes. When we get stuck on the interstate behind a tractor trailer that flipped over sideways, or maybe the logging truck that turned over and we had just passed the last exit, I can whip the bag out and distribute the goods.
I’ve also used it at the end of long (by long I mean over nine hours in the car with three kids five and under) road trips to end the bickering and get a few minutes of peace and quiet.
I stuck a bag of Calico Critters and their accessories underneath our front seat. A friend gave them to us after her child outgrew them, so my kids had never seen or played with them. I gave each kid one critter, then continued to dole out outfits and accessories as needed, every ten minutes or so, until I emptied the bag. I also use these quiet toys in case one kid’s napping in the car and I really don’t want the others to wake them up.
Despite the fact that we haven’t used the critters in more than a year (mostly because we got a new car and I only recently remembered to switch them from the old vehicle), my kids still ask for them on a regular basis. I’m not sure they loved them that much, but we both loved the novelty after days together in tight quarters.
I don’t think the contents make much of a difference, but having something to fall back on helps tremendously, and not only with my stress levels. I also keep a couple of Water Wows in the glove compartment, just in case, so art activities or coloring kits also work well for these types of unexpected delays, whether stuck in the car or waiting in line. I like to keep my phone for my own entertainment and information updates, and since I only have one phone but three kids this works for me without resorting to electronics (which I don’t carry with us anyway).