If you’ve ever taken a toddler in church you know how stressful it can be trying to keep them from running up to the altar and from trying to give their own sermon! The need of having children in church is extremely important, but the stress and overwhelm is a lot. So I’m going to be sharing with you today how to pack a church busy bag, what to include, and how this helps Sunday feel easier.
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The Importance of Children in Church
We recently discussed this topic a little over on Instagram. If we don’t take our children to church, who will? And if they’re not in church what does that mean for the future of the church itself? A quiet church is a dead church!
So you may be taking your child out or to the cry room some, you maybe breastfeeding in the pew, you may be standing in the back trying to get the baby to go to sleep. But you’re there and God sees you every week doing your best. If we never take our children in church, they’ll never understand, they’ll never figure out how to sit quietly and listen with their ears, heart, and mind. Showing up weekly to church and demonstrating the appropriate behavior, participating in the singing, responses, and reading the scriptures are all ways to show your children what we are to do in church. Much like you would show the steps you take to bake a cake or clean a bathroom.
PIN FOR LATER
Encouragement for the Mom and Dad in Church
I know how it feels when it’s your child that is screaming or making as much noise as possible during church. But let me share something with you that I came across when I visited a church once.
- Relax! God put the wiggle in children. They are in His house. He wants to have a joyful time with them!
- Sit near the front so your little one can be engaged.
- Children learn behavior by imitation. Quietly explain to them what is happening.
- We want your children with us! In the event of a meltdown, please take your child to the cry room or to the back for a moment to help them calm down. But please come back!
- The presence of our children is God’s gift to our Church. They are members of this Christian community – a reminder that our church is alive and well.
- Let them know they are at home in God’s house. Remember that the way we welcome children in church affects the way they respond to our church, faith, and God.
- Please welcome our children and give them a smile of encouragement to their parents who are blessed with the tough job of parenting in today’s often cold and uninviting world.
Even when it feels like you didn’t hear a word, you didn’t sing one hymn, you took your child out to the cry room more than once, know that God wants you there. He wants us to be close to Him and it’s not any different for our children. God wants them there too.
Each child is different, if you have multiple children or even been around children you know this. Some children will naturally sit and be attentive, eager to hear or learn while other children want to run and play. I’ve been taking kids to church for the last 11 years (where did the time go?). And one thing I know for sure is each child has learned the parts of church in different ways. One will sit quietly wanting to see everything that is happening. Another wants to ask questions through all of church. And another wants to run laps up and down the aisles. And remember each Sunday will be different too.
What is a Busy Bag?
A busy bag usually consists of either a bag, box, or basket of quiet, engaging activities mostly geared to toddlers and preschoolers, but can also be used for older children. Busy bags are perfect to use during quiet time and in place of screen time. Also, using items you already have on hand like coloring books, board books, crayons etc., makes packing busy bags easy. Additional items can also be purchased from places like Dollar Tree or Target Dollar Spot.
How To Pack A Church Busy Bag
- Bag: I recommend shopping your home first, always. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy and I would recommend using something fairly small to medium size. This way you’re not overpacking the bag. Packing too much stuff will overwhelm your child and you.
- Quiet Activities: This could be sticker books, board books, coloring books, and crayons. I will list activities later.
- Snacks: Packing small snacks has helped me so much on so many different occasions! Something small and not messy they can feed themselves. Snacks like cereal, pretzels, puffs are a few of the things we take regularly. I usually try to save these for the sermon.
- Water cup: If there’s snacks, they’re going to also want a drink. And again, so many times I’ve been able to offer my toddlers a drink to calm them down.
- Extras: If you’re child is in diapers, pack a couple of diapers, pack of wipes, and an extra outfit in case of an accident. If you’re nursing and use a cover pack an extra cover or blanket as well. Tissues come in handy sometimes too.
Most of these things you probably already have on hand. So just grab your small to medium size bag, select 2-3 quiet activities, a snack, and a water cup and any extras you need. Keep this as a special bag now, as well as, the contents of it. That way it’s new and exciting every week.
If you’re feeling extra, you could also bag up 2-3 activities in a ziplock bag, basket, or box and rotate them each week. But again, I would keep these specifically for church times.
Differing Ages at Church
For Babies: I found it easiest to simply pack either a small backpack or a diaper bag. I usually baby wear with my Sollybaby Wrap. I also pack my nursing cover, change of clothing, burp cloth, diapers, and wipes. If you don’t breastfeed be sure to bring formula and bottle. If you use a paci bring it and one small teething toy.
For toddlers: Use your church busy bag for this age.
For preschool-kindergarten: I usually try to get them to start paying attention at this age and participating. Sitting close to the front (I know scary), but seems to always help because they’re not just staring at the back of everyone. They can see everything that is happening at the altar. Allow them to bring their own Bible to follow along or show them the scripture readings in your Bible. Help them to follow along with the hymns, etc.
By kindergarten to first grade, they’re usually able to read and follow along and participate without much distraction.
Tips for Church with Kids
- Always use the bathroom right before church begins.
- Do not pack loud toys or toys that light up.
- Don’t overpack. Just 2-3 activities max.
What to Pack in a Church Busy Bag
Activities & Books to Pack in a Church Busy Bag
- Mini Noah’s Ark Busy Book
- Mini Nativity Busy Book
- Seek and Find: Old Testament Bible Stories
- Brain Games – Sticker Activity: Bible
- Lift the Flap Bible
- Peek-a-Flap Noah Board Book
- First 100 Bible Words Padded Book
- Seek and Find: Old Testament Coloring and Activity Book
- Melissa & Doug On the Go Water Wow Pad: Bible Stories
Extras to Pack in a Church Busy Bag
- Stasher Silicone Snack Bag
- Mushie Silicone Snack Container
- Klean Kanteen Kid’s Sippy Cup
- Dry Erase Crayons
- Cotton Rounds
Busy Bags for Other Quiet Places
Busy bags or boxes are a great way to avoid screen time, but also keep your children quiet and engaged during trips, waiting for an appointment, during homeschool times, or even while your younger children nap. If you’re looking for more ideas check out Simple and Easy Quiet Time Boxes for Toddlers to see how I’ve used these!
I hope and pray you found this post to be an encouragement to you. Keep on doing that good work! And I’ll be thinking about you Sunday when I’m packing our own church busy bag, when I’m nursing the toddler in the pew, or taking one of them out to calm down for a minute.