Our family has the always fun experience of occasionally (thank goodness for family baby-sitters) getting to take our 20 month old on the road to his brother and sister's activities. E sits through sheep shows, gymnastics meets, and wrestling practice. Here are my top ten ways to entertain your toddler:
10. Play "Where's Waldo?" - Of course I don't mean the actual game, but E *LOVES* his brother and sister, so playing "Where is ________?" and having him hunt to find them usually kills some time.
9. Small toys - You would think toys would be higher on my list, but no. These are temporary fun, and then they turn into projectile missiles that hit strangers in the back of the head. You end up climbing around on the floor hunting for the lost ones and apologizing to half the audience. However, if you have a kid who doesn't constantly yell, "Catch!" then these might be for you.
8. Crayons - E isn't quite old enough to not eat the crayons, but he will be shortly. So it's low on my list, but could be a lot higher on yours
7. Games - Especially games you can play without props - pat-a-cake, peek-a-boo, tickle monster... You know, games that are distracting and easy and have ridiculous baby names. And you probably use an awkwardly high voice when you talk during them. I always feel like I sound like a nerd when we're playing, but who doesn't love to hear baby giggles?
6. Books - These are great until he throws them at the people sitting in front of him. See number 9. However, books capture my son's attention longer than toys, usually, and it's a great way to fit more reading into your day.
5. YouTube Videos - I'm not a huge proponent of giving my kids more TV to watch, but whether it's an episode of Mickey Mouse or animals doing funny tricks, this one definitely gets the job done. The down side is that if the location doesn't offer wifi you'll use up a ton of data.
4. Just let them run - This works great when there's nice weather or a large open area. It's high up on the list because it's so effective, but depending on your locale, it may be a bit difficult. We like to take Easton and just let him run off some steam in between events.
3. Snacks - Do I even have to explain this one? What baby doesn't enjoy some fruit snacks or goldfish crackers?
2. Devices! Some may disagree with giving a baby a tablet; my pre-school teacher sister has told me more than once that children under 2 should not be having screen time. However, E loves to play games that make animal noises or allow him to race minions. This probably would have been number one, but I decided human interaction out-ranks electronics.
1. Friends and family - the thing that has worked best for us has actually been to bring as many people along to watch the event as possible, and then all take turns distracting E for the short periods of time that each of us is effective. Then he gets lots of attention and you only miss a few minutes during your turn of the rotation. Thank the Lord for grandparents, aunts, and uncles!!!