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Hockey Moms know that one of the biggest challenges in the earlier years of organized hockey is packing up, carting around, and entertaining younger siblings during games and practices. Though I am almost out of that stage, I remember it as sometimes exhausting, and requiring an extra level of organization, and patience.
I am often asked how to keep younger siblings entertained at the rink, so I asked all of you on our Facebook Page. Thanks to everyone who contributed, here are some of your answers.
Technology (iPad, Leapster, Leappad, etc. Most arenas now have wifi).
Mini sticks – but watch out since many rinks have “no hockey” rules in the stands and lobby! A select few rinks have built in mini-stick arenas.
Colouring books and crayons
Snacks (those that can take a long time to eat, like popcorn, are especially helpful)
Balloons (one mom exclaimed “ALWAYS carry balloons in your purse!”)
Word games – like I spy
Crafts (knitting, crochet, whatever, or dollar stores or toy stores often have some great kits)
Homework (for older siblings)
Barbies and other dolls or action heroes/figurines
And one person suggested “Grandparents”.
A lot of time and energy can go into keeping everyone entertained during games. Of course, each child is different, and what they enjoy will change over time. My middle child, a boy, used to take a mini stick with him everywhere he went and even if he was not using it during his older brother’s game, he would sit in the stands holding it and watch. For my daughter, she had no interest in watching the games back then (although she plays now). I often brought the entertainment for her and all the younger siblings. I had a craft bag that traveled with me everywhere I went and contained construction paper, scissors, glue, stickers, crayons, markers, and whatever other interesting thing I could find at the local dollar store. The kids had a lot of fun at those games, and we always had a small mess to clean up afterwards, but it was well worth it. Bringing a large blanket that I didn’t mind being on the arena stands or floor helped to keep our mess (and kids) contained.
While it can be a lot of work caring for younger siblings who can be very needy of your attention when all you want to do is WATCH THE GAME, remember, the time goes fast and soon they will be sitting with their friends at the farthest end of the rink, ignoring you.
Until then, Happy Hockey!