With 5 kids in a pretty wide range of ages, I’ve spent more than my fair share of hours at youth sporting events, with siblings in tow. One might even say that I’m a bit of an expert on the topic, so it seemed fitting to share what I’ve learned over the years.
Since parts of this post might come across as a bit over the top (and they kinda are), I thought it might be helpful for you to know where I’m coming from. My main goal has always been to make cheering on siblings enjoyable enough that when the kids are older and able to stay home by themselves, they’ll still choose to attend (at least some) games. Here’s the thing … sports take up a good chunk of time. Time that can easily double as quality family time, which is possibly my favorite thing in the world. My second goal is to be able to watch as much of the game as possible, which requires mostly entertained kids.
Depending on what your goals might be, I hope you’re able to take away something (anything) that might help! Also keep in mind that the majority of my tips come from time spent at the ballpark and any baseball mom knows 3-4 hours at a baseball game VS. 1 hour at a basketball game, is a big difference :)
Let’s jump in!
- Pack throughout the day is a big bonus and so is tidying up the bag when you get home! Using a basket style tote makes packing super easy and is also easy for the kids to find things in.
- If you’re going to a new to you field, google it and see if you can tell what the surroundings look like. Is there a Starbucks close, a park or playground within walking distance (both a blessing and a curse IMO), a fence that could keep everyone contained, grass to sit – or just bleachers, etc.
- Communicate expectations and boundaries to kids preschool ages and up. Let them know how far they can wander, when you’ll walk them to the park, when it’s important for you to watch their brother/sister, etc.
TOYS + ACTIVITIES
We usually try to grab one small movement toy and one big movement toy. Here are a few ideas!
- Scooters + skateboards: easy to pack, use, carry, etc. and assuming there isn’t a skatepark at the field, injuries are relatively mild.
- Any kind of ball
- Jump ropes or a Chinese jump rope
- Little toys (like legos or action figures) for quiet play on the blanket… have the kids pick and pack their own!
- Markers/crayons, paper, clipboard OR white boards + markers (my personal pick for basketball games). Plain paper is always a good idea since they can color, draw, make airplanes, fans, fortune tellers, etc.
- Easy crafts: beads, embroidery floss, pipe cleaners, monkey string, paper straws, etc.
- Workbooks (my kids are loving sudoku), magnet activities (like dress up or shapes), fidgets (like this).
- Misc.: Sidewalk chalk, bubbles, play doh, slime (if you’re feeling brave), spray bottles, this ring toss game looks fun and simple, or this paddle game.
Sometimes, no matter how many toys or activities you pack, it’s the the games that require zero gear that the kids gravitate towards. Here’s a long list to reference!
- Hand jive games: Miss Suzie, say-say oh playmate, Miss Mary Mack, thumb wars, paper-rock-scissors, make up a handshake, etc.
- Scavenger hunts: look for colors, leaves, rocks, etc.
- Tumbling: summer-salts, cartwheels, headstands, barrel roll, leap frog, etc.
- Recess games: red light – green light, foursquare (if you brought chalk and a ball), hopscotch, mother may I, Simon says, heads up seven up, freeze dance, telephone,
- Tag: in all forms! Freeze, shadow, tv/animal,
- Trader Joes is your best friend: a few quick frozen dinners to heat and pack up include: mini tacos, Mac and cheese, silver dollar pancakes, cauliflower stir fry or fried rice (add rotisserie chicken and an egg for protein), chicken cilantro wontons, are a few dinner ideas… and don’t forget the snacks, bars, dried fruit, and yogurt smoothies!
- So is Costco: If you’re not up for hot dogs, pizza, or chicken bake, grab stuff for a snack platter, cold pasta, sandwiches, etc. And don’t forget the snacks! We’ve been loving the bag of dried mangos!
- Pack a modified fondue spread using dips! Bring bread, pretzel bites, veggies, and meat to scoop up dips (spinach, hummus, ranch, cheese, guac, etc.)
- Pack lunch for dinner!
- A few useful containers: food boats (I swear by), food prep, lunch containers
- A few recipes that are easy to pack: FIREHOUSE PASTA, FAIRY BREAD, EGG + CHEESE BREAD, ENERGY BITES, EMPANADAS, KABOBS + SNACK MIX
- Pack dolla-dolla bills (yo!) in case there’s a concession stand!
- Hot tip: For late afternoon or evening games (if I have my act together) I would have the kids eat before they were allowed to get any toys/activities out or play with other siblings. Otherwise, they will do anything but eat what you packed and eventually find a stash of red vines under someone else’s chair, and then when you pull in the driveway at 8pm with tired, dirty children, they will also let you know that they are sttttaaaarrrrrvvvvingggg and in need of dinner, lol. And honestly, one of the perks of having evening activities to attend is being able to eat al fresco and leave all the crumbs and “dishes” at the field!
Link for bag below and my shacket (the cutest!), here!
GEAR (I TRY TO KEEP IT LIGHT)
- Blankets +/or mats
- Tote bag or these basket totes
- Mini bags (one, two, three)
- Baby gear if needed!
- Cooler bag
- Water bottles
- First Aid
Did I miss anything? Share your tips in the comments!