Friday, June 1, 2012

Busy Bag Guest Post

Here is Friday's guest post from Brenda over at the Kidlet Occupation!  I am truly honored to have her here at Sprouting a Little Nostalgia!

There's something magically empowering that sparks inside me when I create activities I think my children will find entertaining. For one thing, I really love seeing my kidlets engrossed in play, especially when they're simultaneously learning. But I also think about all the things I can actually accomplish while they're busy.

The thing is... my magical superhero feeling often popped with a loud disappointed bang when the busy bags I took time to create did not live up to my grand expectations.
It's been more than a year since I totally immersed myself in the world of busy bags. During that time, I've learned a thing or two. I'll share them with you, in hopes of saving you a few popped dreams.

5 Things I've Learned About Busy Baggin'...

1. The value of a busy bag is not always measured by the amount of time and money you put into it. You may have spent over $5.00 and 12 hours making this activity as cute as can be, but unless your child takes an interest in it, it's value as a busy bag is a complete zero. Sometimes, the greatest busy bags are born out of a spur of the moment, desperate idea. My four kididdles (then 6, 4, 2, and 16 mos.) once spent 2 whole days playing with empty spice containers and bendy straws.

2. If left unorganized or in reach of the children, busy bags simply become a pile of junk. I'm super, duper good at coming up with excellent organizing ideas, but always hit brick walls when it comes time to implementing them. "Well, I can't organize that way, because my closet doesn't have the proper shelves." But I've learned (the hard way... ahem) that busy bags left in the unlimited reach of children only results in a huge mess of "trash". Even when the mess is picked up, their value is lost, because the kidlets are no longer interested in them.

3. Keep your swap expectations in check. If you ever have the opportunity to join a swap, and have the means to participate, DO. However, keep in mind that a swap is a conjunctive activity. A collection of high quality busy bags is only possible if each participant creates high quality bags. Like it or not, there is an almost 100% chance that you will receive at least one busy bag you will deem less than "the best". It's o.k. Don't get your apron strings all tied up in a knot. You never know the story of the mom behind the bag. Don't judge her.

4. Busy bags are like shoes. Some will fit. Some won't. Every family is different. Every stage in your family life is different. Every child in your family is different. A blogger may be singing the praises of a particular busy bag or activity, but you may find that particular busy bag produces as much excitement in your child as a vegemite slathered tofu steak. When choosing activities for your kidlets, think about the interests of your own family and your own children. If dinosaurs are not a part of your family culture, do not waste your time creating dinosaur busy bags.

5. Don't forget to "do" the busy bags with your children. Do not make the mistake of thinking busy bags are only for occupying your kidlets while you get a shower, a nap, the dishes done, the laundry folded, etc. Busy bags create the perfect opportunity for quality one on one time. Delight your child. Sit down with them. Have fun. Make memories. Love on 'em.

Brenda Prentice lives with her husband and four children in the boring wonderful state of Indiana. She owns and operates a busy bag business, Kidlet Occupation. She can be found blogging there at Kidlet Occupation and at Unsolicited Advice.


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