Church Bag Essentials
“How do you get your kids to sit still during church?” is a question I get a lot. Although having an 18 month old will most likely at one point or another leave you wandering the halls rather than enjoying a spirit filled sermon, I have a couple tricks up my sleeve to help keep you from becoming a regular hall wanderer.
Tip #1: Pack The Snacks
This may seem simple. “RyLee, of course I bring snacks” you might say, but I’m not just talking a small bag of snacks and some string cheese, I’m talking a bag of pretzels, some goldfish, apple slices, string cheese, apple sauce pouch, yogurt bites, freeze dried strawberries, beef jerky etc. While other kids are enjoying a tiny bite of something, we’re over in our pew enjoying a feast! Seriously, do it. It’s a game changer. Children need variety, and when you have three young ones like I do, inevitably there will be contention over who gets to hold the snack bag if I only bring one. Plus your children can’t listen or learn if they’re hungry anyway, so get your snacks on! Oh and don’t forget a water bottle! We love these because all three of my girls can drink out of it including my 11 month old and it keeps the water cold.
Tip #2: Get an Activity Bag
We like to bring a separate bag of all of the children activities. Actually now that my two year old is even more interested in these activities as well, I am looking to get her her own separate backpack so they can each have their “stuff”. We love these small backpacks from Skiphop because they are small enough that you aren’t loading too many things in there, and your toddler can carry them on their back, but large enough to fit all of your essentials. The church bag keeps everything organized in a way that my “dark hole” of a diaper bag can’t. My children get excited to pull out their activities after the sacrament, and I’m excited that they aren’t pulling everything out of my diaper bag!
Tip #3: Coloring Activities
Coloring activities can be open ended and keep your child engaged the entire meeting long! One of my absolute favorite things to have with me in my diaper bag at all times is a Boogie Board (Tip: occasionally these go on a killer good sale at Costco). We not only use it for church, but for restaurants, doctors appointments or long drives. It keeps the girls entertained for long periods of time and is mess free! I also love to include a Water Wow activity book for my 18 month to 2 year olds. This is also mess free! My two year old is fascinated watching the colors appear on the page, and the best part is, it disappears and she can do it over and over again! (Tip: if you run out of water, simply pour some in from the water bottle you packed!)
Tip #4: Books
We always include some small board books into our church bags. We switch them out periodically to keep them interesting and engaging. We are currently loving quiet books like this one from Melissa and Doug. We also are newly obsessed with these board activity books shown above. They come with small figures and the girls love them! You can see my 4 year old matching the animals to the page on the picture above. I have seen them recently at Costco and Wal-mart.
Tip #5: Small Toys
I also like to throw in a couple of small toys. This might be simply the figures that come in the activity book as shown above. It might be a quiet toy car, or these lacing toys. Having a small toy allows your child to still play quietly while they have to sit in a pew for an hour. In all honesty, it’s not developmentally appropriate for a young child to sit still for that long. So don’t feel guilty whipping out a bag of quiet tricks. Your child will be happier and you will probably get more out of the spiritual lesson being taught from the pulpit.
Tip #6: Spiritual Activities
Now that my 4 year old is a little older, I like to throw in a few of these books that my mom made about our Latter-Day Prophets and Apostles. This one in particular is fun because there are a lot of interesting facts about the prophets and apostles that help you get to know them on a more personal level. I haven’t been able to find these online, but my mom purchased these little cards from Deseret Book and then placed them in a small 5 x 7 photo book. My four year old absolutely loves these! She is recognizing the faces, starting to learn their names, and a little more about them. Dessert book also has a plethora of resources including picture books about the Holy Ghost, Scripture Stories, and Baptism. We love to include The Holy Ghost Is Like a Blanket board book and a Noah’s Ark quiet book in our bag as well! There are also so many etsy shops with cute quiet book church activities like this one.
Tip #7: Rotate
Just like we try to rotate our toys and books at home to keep them exciting and engaging, we want to rotate the activities we have in our church bag. This will help hold your child’s interest each week, and make them excited about discovering new activities that they get to enjoy during church.
I love the little sign in this picture above. Since implementing these simple tips, I went from a regular hall wanderer to someone who usually can stay in the pew the entire meeting. I used to sort of dread coming to church. Even though my number of children have increased, it has truly gotten easier over time to entertain my children and be able to feel the spirit more. Sacrament meeting no longer has to be something that our child, and we, are trying to “get through”, but it can truly become a wonderful and spiritual experience for the entire family.