Parents’ first inclination can be to pack as many activities as possible into their bag to keep kids quiet and busy during church services. However, the type of activities you choose to bring will make or break your sabbath experience. Choose wisely. Here are some awesome guidelines about how to choose which activities to bring and which to leave at home.
Some activities are simply not conducive to church atmosphere, cause problems, or require you to help your children rather than listen to the messages. Here are some examples of what you SHOULDN’T bring:
While your kids are tiny (6 months to 18 months) you might consider bringing some cheerios or dry snacks to keep them busy. They are noisy and don’t understand reverence at this age. Once your child gets bigger its important to phase them out of snacks as quickly as possible. Snacks are messy, noisy, make other kids jealous, and teach your child to eat when bored. It may seem hard at first, but your child will adjust within a few weeks.
Round or Bouncy Things:
Balls or any other bouncy or round edged toy that easily rolls is not a good option. Obviously. After climbing under benches to retrieve your rolling/bouncy toys you’ll understand why.
Things with Lots of Parts or Pieces:
You want to be able to focus on listening to the messages during the church service. You don’t want to spend your meeting helping keep track of or putting together activities with a lot of pieces. The more pieces there are the less peace you will experience. Also, lots of little pieces are easily lost or fought over. This may include lots of crayons or colored pencils since they tend to roll and get fought over and just end up making marks on your sunday clothing.
Leave home your cute singing or musical toys crinkly packages, electronic toys or anything that may be distracting to other families. You may notice that seemingly innocent activities turn out to be noisy (your child can’t resist ripping pages out of a coloring book or turn the pages in a very noisy way). Leave home any toy or activity that causes too much noise for your comfort level. If your child objects, just remember, they'll get used to it.
The point of bringing your kids to church is to pay attention and learn. If your child is old enough to read a chapter book they are old enough to listen to the messages. Also, chapter books have great stories in them and they get really engrossed in the book. They enter a whole new world when they open those books, so leave them home. You want their brains at church.
It may seem easy to set your child up with an Ipad or let them play games on your phone. However, these electronic devices often are bright and flashy and distract other families. The volume may get turned up accidently. The kids might wander into un-approved games or movies. Plus, electronics have a way of sucking 100% of children’s attention into their appealing screen. You are bringing your kids to church to begin listening to spiritual messages, not to spend more time on the Ipad.
There are plenty of options for acceptable activities that your children can enjoy while still listening to the messages. What you decide to bring will depend on your children’s ages, maturity level, and reverence atmosphere at church.
Your younger children may appreciate board books or a simple picture books. You may also have church related books or magazines to bring along. As long as kids can read on their own without noisy turning pages or requiring you to read to them, simple reading material can be a great option.
A simple bound sketchpad or writing notebook with one pen or pencil is a great way for kids to express themselves and keep their hands busy. Avoid bringing too many writing utensils or you’ll find yourself chasing crayons or breaking up fights over who has which color.
You might choose to bring a simple toy that can easily fit on your child’s lap and be played with quietly and independently. Examples of good choices might be a travel-sized Etch-a-sketch, a favorite doll, or lacing boards.
Ask Yourself These Questions:
As you choose items to place in your quiet activity bag, run through this list of questions to prevent a disaster:
- Does this have too many pieces to keep track of?
- Can they do it themselves?
- Is it going to make too much noise?
- Can this toy accidentally bounce, shoot, or otherwise move into areas too far away to fetch?
- Is this activity going to cause contention between my children?
- Is this activity one that will keep my child’s hands busy but allow them to still listen?
- Is there any way my particular child may misuse this particular toy that would cause problems?