Picture this: you are in a restaurant with your family having a lovely time when your child begins to have a meltdown because the food is taking too long. They’re..…bored. Or, say you are in the waiting room at the doctor’s office and your child begins to get antsy. You are on a road trip that is just a minute longer than the normal commute and cue the meltdown because, again, bored. Any of these scenarios sound familiar to you? All these scenarios are missing one thing- a busy bag.
A quiet/busy bag has been given many names, terms, and definitions but essentially it is a bag filled with items that can entertain your child in a quieter environment.
I am not above passing out tablets to my children, but I do like to try other routes before going straight to screen time. Ask me this again on a bad day and my answer may be a little different. I swear by busy bags because they haven’t failed me *yet*. I have used them in church, restaurants, waiting rooms, road trips, or when I just need 5 minutes to myself. Over the summer last year, I left our bags in our vehicle that way the bags were never forgotten or there if a random incident came up and we needed them. Recently though, I started letting my kids build their own bags- putting in items they want to play with.
For our busy bag, we use mini backpacks that are easy to open and close for better access. But you can use any bag that is carry-able. Most of the items I keep in a bin for our busy bags are from Amazon, Dollar Tree, or Target Dollar Spot.
WHAT TO PUT IN YOUR BUSY BAG?
Shape puzzles are probably both my kids’ favorite items in their bags. The shape puzzles come with so many building options so they can’t say they’re bored 5 minutes into opening it. The only downfall to bringing this set into a public setting is that there are several pieces and it can become a mess, depending on the age. So I’d suggest handing out only a few cards at a time so you aren’t stuck playing 102 pick up in the middle of a restaurant.
I love these because we can get some learning time in while still having fun. Now obviously these cards wouldn’t work for church because you do have to read the questions to your child, but in any other setting, it is the perfect boredom buster. Brain Quest is for various ages and starts at age 2.
CARD GAMES and CARD HOLDER
These are my favorite things to put in their quiet bags because it is so open-ended and we have so many card games. My kids end up using the cards to count or play money or something along those lines. Also, these little hand card holders are what every parent of young children needs! Seriously. You need these.
SCRATCH ART and WATER WOW
Scratch art and the Melissa and Doug Water Wow activity books are perfect to stuff in any bag and provide quiet, endless fun. Be advised, the scratch art does create a bit of a mess as the child scratches off so this may not be the perfect activity for a church service or something of that sort.
Believe it or not, a dollar tree sticker book and note pad are another dynamic duo for quiet bags. This is another activity that is open-ended and can usually buy quite a bit of quiet time.
Other things you can add to your busy bag are:
- play doh
- coloring books and crayons
- Duplo blocks or legos
- Color wonder markers and books (perfect color books for young children learning to color)
- reading books