Thanks to the wonders of the Scholastic book fair and delightful newsprint book orders that periodically come home from school, I have recently learned that The Babysitters Club is back. (If it ever left, that is.) The graphic novel versions are actually pretty good, and the Netflix show isn’t bad either…if I can get over the fact that Cher from Clueless (Alicia Silverstone) plays Kristy’s mom. I always thought the girls in the BSC were so cool–Claudia had her own phone line, after all–but now that I’m re-reading through the eyes of a mom, I am realizing all over again that their success as a club was because they were actually really good babysitters. Anyone with tweens/teens want to encourage their kids to start a real-life club here in Memphis?
One of the qualities that made the members of the BSC such good sitters–beyond their stellar organization and excellent record-keeping–was their preparedness. Every time the girls would go out on a sit, they would take with them a “kid kit.” This kit would be filled with activities like games and art supplies to keep the babysitting charges busy and entertained and was customizable based on whomever was being babysat on any given day. As I marveled at this genius, I realized that we, too, have all kinds of kits at our house for a variety of purposes.
First Aid Kit
I’ll start with the obvious one that most people have either in their house or car or both. Commercial first aid kits are full of the standard bandages, ointments, wipes, etc., and if you have a snazzy one, it might even have a whistle for attracting attention on those occasions when you break your leg on a secluded mountain hike and Lassie isn’t around to save you.
In addition to these kinds of first aid kits, however, I also carry a small zippered pouch of essentials in my “mom bag.” This kit contains bandaids (pro tip: the dollar spot at Target usually has all kinds of fun ones that will get you by in a pinch), tissues, hand sanitizer, ponytail holders, “itch sticks” for bug bites, and emergency pads/tampons. I have a similar kit in my bike bag–we ride our bikes to school–and I have been able to save the day a number of times with a bandaid at just the right time.
Obviously, this list isn’t exhaustive, and your kit could contain any number of things, like medicines, Epi pens, bleach pens, actual pens, buttons, safety pins, etc. The key is to keep it small and simple and to restock when necessary, like right after you use something. Most of us probably leave our purses/diaper bags packed when we’re not using them, so by having this kit inside, it ensures that we are always prepared. I am notorious for having bags inside of bags, but this form of organization also means that I can find what I’m looking for in a hurry.
Emergency Preparedness Kit
Speaking of being in a hurry, we also have an emergency preparedness kit tucked in our hall closet. Inspired by this winter’s ice storm/power outage, we put together some items that would have come in handy had they all been together when we needed them. Fellow contributor Colleen put together this great kit–all from the “treasure box store”–and to that, we would also add our weather radio and head lamps. We found this bright yellow bag at Bass Pro in the hopes that it will be easier to find in the dark if necessary.
So far, the only extra-curricular activity our girls participate in on a regular basis is ballet. Even so, it’s important that they keep all of their “gear”–shoes, leotards, skirts, and tights–in one central location. Each one has a ballet bag that stays packed and in the same location all week, so when we are frantically rushing around to go to class (which never, ever happens…yeah, right), all they have to do is grab their ballet bags, and they are ready. As soon as they get home, anything that doesn’t need to be washed goes right back into the bag. I have heard from other moms whose kids do lots of activities that they have a separate bag for each sport/activity, even if it’s one of those cheap drawstring bags. It’s even worth it to have extras of certain items like water bottles so there isn’t a lot of transferring of things.
We are out of practice with this one, but we also have a designated bag for traveling that has certain items that only come out for plane rides and road trips. Think Color Wonder or Water Wow books, etc. Again, when trying to pack up all the things, it is nice to have something that is all ready to go. Plus, our kids are old enough to remember these items and get excited when they get to see them again after a hiatus. We have a similar bag for church that contains quiet books and activities. And snacks. Always snacks. Our youngest is still in diapers so those stay stashed in there too…just remember to restock that part regularly (not that I would know how important that is from experience or anything).
One type of traveling we like to do is camp. However, camping takes A LOT of prep work. One thing that has expedited that process is our camping kitchen kit. We are nerdy and take notes after every camping trip, so we feel pretty good about what we have in our kit which includes plates, utensils, cutting boards, dish towels, and even a tiny bottle of dish soap among other things. (If you also like to camp, I would be more than happy to share our full list.) We are still working on our general camping gear kit, but I have visions of a storage container in our garage that we can just pop in the back of our car and hit the road.
This is our newest kit but probably our most frequently used. Now that we have two kids doing homework on a regular basis (my beef with kindergarten homework is another post for another day), it is necessary that we have a system. We don’t have a designated homework spot in our house, so work is done at the kitchen table during dinner prep. To make the transition between homework and dinner, we keep all our essential homework items in a bag that is easily packed up and moved when it is time to eat. Our bag includes pencils, erasers, pencil sharpener, crayons (one of each commonly used color, so maybe 8-10 total), scissors, and a glue stick. We have more art supplies in another location, but typically worksheets only require the basics, so by having fewer items in the kit, our kids can focus on getting the task done more efficiently. Plus, if we ever need to take homework on the go, like when waiting at the doctor’s office or at a restaurant, all we have to grab is the kit.