Monday, August 9, 2010


A few weeks ago I handled the weekly Church duties on my own. It was a big deal for me, probably because my husband is such a good help to me. As I was loading up the girls back in the car after our meetings, I breathed a heavy sigh of relief, realizing that I had survived the three hours on my very own (I do get a lot of help from friends in our ward). But the thought occurred to me, for a mom, getting through Church is a feat. A tactical feat.

And a mom's best weapon: The Church Bag.

A properly prepared and well-stocked church bag can make the weekly worship, that much easier. Here is what is working for us these days.
The Bag.
Now, when I say church bag, I mean a separate tote, specifically for your weekly outing to church. I took an old diaper bag and designated it, the family church bag. It is stocked with diapers, wipes, treats, binkys and the toys. It also holds all of the regular diaper bag items such as lip gloss, infant tylenol and hand sanitizer.  I can't tell you how much time this saves us as we are running out the door. On many occasions I have been found yelling, "Jimmy, did you get the church bag?" as we are frantically trying to get out the door to our weekly meetings. Seriously, the time saved is so worth it. It also means that there are a few items that our girls only see on a weekly basis, thus maintaining the novelty of them and their ability to entertain.

Can't say it enough. Every family needs a church bag.

The Snacks.
For a time, the endless snacks were the only way to get our daughter through Sacrament Meeting. It has tapered off a bit over these last few months, but they were a real lifesaver there for a while.

Choose snacks without the mess. We've done granola bars with mini chocolate chips and those can be a disaster. Goldfish work wonders, we've also enjoyed many pretzels.  

The key to our snack success has been the snack catcher. There are a few out on the market these days, and they all do the trick. It allows the child the freedom to roam without the potential for spilling a cup or bag of snacks. These things are excellent for every day life as well.

Finally, I will suggest the power of chewing gum. My oldest learned to chew gum, way, way too early. She still loves it and for her it is not a mess at all. We can get her to do just about anything for a stick of gum. So, deep in the church bag is always our secret pack of gum to smooth things over if needed.

Quiet Items.
Although they're not always as effective, we do have a few things that remind our children that they are in the church and in a special meeting. During one trip to Deseret Book I bought an assortment of post card sized pictures of Church figures and stories. During the sacrament it is a good opportunity to take my daughter on my lap and flip through the cards and tell her about the cards. It is a good reminder that we are indeed in church. 

The Entertainment. (mostly toddler-focused)
My father-in-law who just happens to be a professional in child-entertainment, or so it seems, claims that a toddler can last up to ten minutes with any given activity. Depending on the age of your children, that may or may not be true. But, if his hypothesis holds true, a church bag would hold seven different activities or toys to keep the attention of the child for seventy full minutes.

We have girls, so the big ticket items may seem a bit more geared towards girls, but these things are working at the moment. Also, we've never gone the way of the quiet book, but I have seen plenty of them out there that are pretty amazing. I just don't sew.
Aquadoodle Travel Doodle. On a whim I bought this for an airplane flight and it has been a go-to item in our church bag. It is a no-mess toy and provides lots of entertainment.

Water Wow Doodle Book. This book is along the same lines as the Aquadoodle, but you color with the water pen and the colored images appear. Our daughter has loved this and I was able to snag one at Wal-mart for just $5.00.

Crayola Wonder Colors. Another very similar item, but this one the Wonder Colors are separate markers that appear to write clear. After you draw, on Wonder Color paper, the color will magically appear. It is the fun of markers, without the chance of drawing all over clothes or hymn books for that matter.

Silly Putty. With a little supervision, this will keep a little one very occupied. It is not a large quantity that it can make a huge mess, but kids have a blast rolling and making little things with it.

So there you have it, a sampling of our super stocked church bag. It doesn't solve all of our Sacrament Meeting troubles, but it does buy us some time to listen and learn each week.

Now, tell me, what works for you? I'd love to hear how old your kids are and what things make your weekly meetings go a bit smoother.

all images via


The Bobos said...

Those are some great ideas! I'm always looking for new ways to entertain my kiddos. Natalie, who is a month older than Hannah I believe, loves to play with her My Little Ponies. Charlotte, who is 1, loves those quiet activity books - the ones that you can zipper, button, and what not. She also loves the board books that you can touch and feel. Thanks for the great ideas!

Heidi said...

I always throw in some stickers too. Max will stick them to the chairs, the program, my dress, whatever. I just have to keep him away from the hymn book pages.

For snacks, I like Annie's bunny grahams, as well as goldfish. Sometimes craisins.

Bob, Emily, Ellie, and Kate said...

What a fun blog Erin! So I needed all these ideas to help us survive church. Our stake president has asked us not to bring treats, so our entertainment must be top notch. I think I will definitely add the color wonders to our "church bag", we have added our own little touch to one to many hymn books.

Oh and my girls love playing with their little princess people that you can dress up during church. Great because we can help them and still listen.

Erin@mamaswhoknow said...

Thanks for the ideas guys, I'm always looking for new things to try.

Linds said...

our church bag is nothing like yours! haha. okay, similar, but i love your ideas. The gum is awesome. My kids are so much quieter and entertained for a while. Church is starting to be bearable and I need the bad less and less. It's great.

runningfan said...

We also love stickers. And Friend magazines and Magnadoodles. And lots and lots of fruits snacks. (My kids are 8, 6, 2, and 1.)

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