A special thanks to Plum Kids for sponsoring this post.

There may constantly and forever be a special bag tucked away in my car with kid essentials for as long as I have them (kids, not bags or cars) around. Right now each kid has their own, Vivi’s is full of diapers, snacks and toys while Addie’s is full of snacks, books and stuff to color. If you’ve ever been stuck somewhere (side of the road, mechanics office, after school activity, grandmas) with a kid and nothing to keep them entertained but your own body and maybe a few random bits of paper you found in your wallet? Chances are you went straight home and packed a bag of essentials as well.

Remind me to tell you about the time I entertained Addie for an entire day with nothing more than a pack of plastic bangles, a banana and a sticker book. I’ll even show you the medal I was never actually awarded that day.

Here’s the secret to packing as few toys as possible, yet keeping your kids as happy as possible: MULTI-TASKING TOYS.

The best stuff is the stuff that can be stacked, tossed, hidden, counted, lined up, knocked down, and turned into a dozen other things aside from what it actually is. Which is to say the best toys are the ones that require a little imagination, bonus if they trick your kid into learning a thing or two. We received our own cloth banana full of letter tiles last week and Addie has been spelling out new words, dividing them into vowel vs. consonants, stacking them, making sentences and Vivi has always been lurking in the background to toss them all over the house.


One day we may even get to play Bananagrams as intended, without the “help” of Vivi.

Then there’s the snacks, it was my sister and her son who first brought Plum Kids Fruit Shredz into my life. She had some in her diaper bag when she came out to visit us earlier in the year and my children made sure she didn’t go home with a single snack she arrived with. My kids have never met a fruit snack they didn’t like, but it wasn’t until these little beauties entered my life that I felt a mutual adoration. No high fructose corn syrup and no artificial colors or flavors — even better? They’ll eat them, none the wiser to the nutritional sneak I pulled over on them.

Plum Kids wants to know what your after school essential is, and by sharing it, you’ll be entered to win a fairly amazing after school prize pack from yours truly. Everything featured in my video — from the snacks to the Kindle Fire — could be yours simply by visiting Plum Kids on Facebook or commenting here. Bonus entries available for additional engagement!

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  1. I want…

  2. my bigs love applesauce in the pouch.. also LOTS AND LOTS of goldfish

  3. Kristen Self says:

    Chocolate milk and some form of fruit. Her favorite right now is strawberries!

  4. Grapes! My kids LOVE grapes!

  5. Fruit snacks, applesauce, crackers, or ham slices. Some days it’s just one or two little snacks after school, sometimes it’s eat everything in the house or she’s going to die kind of day lol.

  6. Fruit, cheese & milk

  7. I keep a stash of granola bars and trail mix in the car. At home, fruit cheese and crackers keep the energy up after school and extra curriculars before dinner.

  8. On warm days, frozen gogurt is often waiting!

  9. Bananas and/or clementines. And lately they’ve been enjoying Greek yogurt with honey after school.

    Heather Reply:

    Ooh, and I forgot the toys, I keep a set of Tegu blocks in the car, just in case!

  10. Apple slices, cheese, and a game of dominos!

  11. Gogurts. She loves them

  12. My kids usually have carrotts, bananas or apples and a lunch able after school.

  13. Can’t go without our after school snack!

  14. For my 11 year old, water and cheese and crackers!

    For my 2 year old, applesauce and yogurt, mixed together.

  15. First my kids need a snack. Yogurt, fruit sometimes a bowl of cereal. Then they need a break and a few minutes to go crazy! I don’t blame them. 🙂

  16. Apples, bananas, or cheese. Sometimes all three.

  17. Yum!! Fruit Shredz are awesome.

  18. Yellow Bars! (Fig Newtons) Sometimes a squeezy fruit too…

  19. Right now with my oldest its snacks….snacks and more snacks. My youngest is all about reading.