For pretty much my entire parenting time, I’ve had a dedicated church bag that I keep stocked with some quiet activities.
I pick things that they can do quietly and still be able to listen and pay attention (most kids – and frankly adults – are able to focus more when they’re doing something with their hands and my goal isn’t just for them to be quiet, it’s also for them to be able to listen and learn while giving them something to keep their hands occupied).
These are the same things that I’ll pack for an airplane ride or a long road trip – basically anytime you want to help keep your child engaged while they’re sitting in one place.
And they’re perfect if they’re listening to audiobooks too!
Here are the things that have earned a spot in my church bag!
What I Keep in My Church Bag
- LED TABLET. We have two of these (my code is JANSSEN25) and they’re so perfect for a church bag or busy bag – no waste and endless creativity. My girls draw pictures on them or use them to play tic-tac-toe or other little games. And then we don’t leave with a giant stack of papers to need to recycle. You can also grab a cheap two pack of them on Amazon, although I can’t speak to the quality on those ones.
- WATER WOW BOOKS. These have stood the test of time – they’re fun over and over again and are no-mess painting! I fill them up with new water every month or two and they miraculously don’t leak.
- COLORING BOOKS. I stock up on coloring books whenever I see them on sale (the dollar store, Zulily, etc) and then swap them out as they get finished up.
- DRAWING BOOKS. My girls love to draw, so I have a few learn-to-draw books I keep in my church bag (they draw on the LED tablet or on blank paper, so these drawing books are reusable, unlike a coloring book).
- PENCIL CASE. I have a little zippered bag that I keep all the pens and pencils in so that they’re easy to round up and put away at the end of church and I always have plenty for anyone who wants them.
- CRAYON BOX. These hard boxes are the perfect size for keeping crayons in and they don’t get broken in there.
- PAINT BY STICKER BOOKS. If I had to pick a single thing for our church bag, I’d pick these Paint by Sticker books. I have both kid and adult versions in my bag and the girls love them – sometimes they do them solo and sometimes they like to sit by me and I’ll peel off the stickers and they’ll place them (I like doing them too!).
- MAGNETIC PAPER DOLLS SET. My parents gave this to one of my girls a couple of years ago for a birthday gift and it’s become a staple in our church bag – I love that the tin keeps everything together and the magnetic pieces don’t tear or get lost.
- REUSABLE PUFFY STICKER SCENE. This has been a surprise hit. I bought it a couple of years ago and my girls use it all the time, rearranging the scenes and making up little stories about what the animals are doing. Plus, it’s so flat!
- SKOUT BARS. I don’t want a bunch of treats and snacks in the church bag, but it’s nice to have something if someone is absolutely losing it. Skout Bars stay good for ages, don’t melt and and aren’t overly sticky, so I always have a little stash of them in my church bag. And I’ve been known to eat one or two of them if the morning got busy before we left for church and I ran out of time to eat breakfast before we left! (My code is EVERYDAYREADING).
P.S. The bag I use to keep this all in is this black leather tote from Madewell. For years, I used a canvas tote bag and I upgraded last year – it’s nice to carry something that looks beautiful, zips shut on the top and has some structure so everything isn’t flopping around. I love it!
Any other great suggestions for things to take in a church bag or a quiet bag? I’d love recommendations!
We keep plus plus in ours. The little puzzle looking building pieces. With a zippered pouch. Gum, tissues and lotion are all vital. I’ve also gotten into bringing individually wrapped treats. Our church is at noon-2. Lunch doesn’t happen. So we subsist off of tootsie rolls, Starburst, dove chocolate, hi-chews, salt water taffy, peppermint candy, and old halloween candy. Things that don’t stick out of their mouths–lollipops or twizzlers. And things that aren’t tiny like m&ms or gummy bears and will undoubtedly fall between benches and make a bigger mess. This has been huge for keeping my people in their seats and not having melt downs. I fill up a little zippered pouch, trying to keep a fair variety and when it’s gone that’s it. I’m aiming for the roll of cool aunt/future grandma who keeps a small treat for people around. On fast Sundays I pull the bag out and replace it with gum.
We also have the usborne wipe away flash cards. Usually there’s a small half finished picture and the kids need to complete the picture. I really like those for creativity. I switch those out about once a month. There’s a lot and they come in a nice tin, but I’m not working on my lopsided workout at church. 😉
Great ideas. We also keep a small picture/rubix cube that they never solve, but it does entertain!