A few weeks ago, Bear and I learnt about Diwali, which culminated in a trip to Leicester with friends to see the lights. I’m trying to be more organised in an attempt to add more structure to our lives so in preparation for our trip, I did some research on alternative ways to entertain young children on long journeys.
Keep Em Quiet is a company which provides travel bags filled with activities and a snack pack for short, medium or long journeys, for children aged 2 to 5+. Perfect. I ordered 2 ‘long journey’ bags and, once I’d removed the bubble wrap (didn’t want that temptation on the train!) I was convinced the kids would be occupied for the whole day.
The excitement had been building over the days leading up to our visit, we were going to have so much fun skipping down the streets talking about Rama and Sita and the 10-headed baddy Ravana, wondering at the pretty lights and eating some delicious food, and despite the grey, drizzly weather spirits were high that morning. Alas, as it is when you include children in well thought out plans, things did not go as we’d imagined.
The sticker book that came in Bear’s Keep Em Quiet bag managed to occupy the boys for the train journey, but in their excitement, they forgot how to whisper so the whole carriage was subjected to random cries of ‘OOO THAT’S A SHINY ONE’ and ‘I HAVE NUMBER ZERO, ONE, FIVE!’ There was a slight blip when Bear insisted on opening a box that contained a million little pieces (ok maybe not a million but they were small!) for building a plane, but after losing a piece, everyone agreed it was best to save it for sturdier ground.
The real fun started once we were off the train. Bear and his pal F were on fire, running, fighting, climbing, hitting; generally being at the worst end of 5 years old, we (the mums) were pretty much ready for a hot bath and a bottle of gin before we’d even stepped off the train, but we persisted, determined to make the trip educational after all the hard work we’d put in to it.
We soon realised that the Diwali lights were only up along the Golden Mile so we had another half hour walk before we had anything to look at. We were saved by some interesting information points along the route with historical facts that kept the boys entertained and, thankfully, the Pom Bears supplied with the Keep Em Quiet travel bags kept them going till we stumbled on a quirky little restaurant doing an excellent lunch deal.
The food was amazing and whilst we stuffed our faces the kids dipped back in to their bags and played with some puzzle rubbers, enjoying trying to rebuild them as well as building some safari animals. It wasn’t the calm, quiet lunch we were hoping for, but we should’ve ordered wine with ours, rookie mistake!
When we finally made it to where the main event was taking place, we discovered that we were too early. So much for me being organised, having not properly looked at the programme schedule I missed that celebrations didn’t kick off till 6pm. Thankfully, the boys managed to sniff out a football tent and we killed about half an hour while they practiced shooting goals for Leicester City. Once we finally rounded them up, we headed back to the station a little less buoyant and a little damper than when we’d arrived. Although the kids were chuffed when they were given some small firecrackers to set off on the pavement by a family we stopped to chat to. One of the women told us that in the evening they closed the road for all the stalls that take over the pavement. Kids and adults get to set off little cherry bombs with the evening ending with a huge firework display. It sounded absolutely spectacular!
Unfortunately for us we were back on the train before the lights were even turned on. We sat like empty vessels of our former selves, whilst the kids, once again, argued over the rubbers.
Looking back on the day it is difficult to ignore how stressful the day trip was for me and my mama pal. After 5 years of being a parent you do sometimes wonder at which point does it get easier. But despite the shouting, I think the kids had fun and having their very own travel bags made the trip even more special for them. Four days later Bear was still playing with his bag of goodies, which allowed me to wash up without noise at least twice!
What I got from this experience, is that sometimes it’s better to learn from afar or, where possible, just leave the kids at home. But if you are planning a trip, and you absolutely must bring the kids, and you don’t want to rely on gadgets to entertain them, then the Keep Em Quiet travel bags are definitely worth it.
Here’s a little word from Keep Em Quiet…
Keep Em Quiet prices start from £9.99, travel accessories are also available on their site.
*Items from Keep Em Quiet were gifted to style and review, and of course all thoughts and opinions are my own*