There are a lot of places that children have to go that are designed more for adults. It’s a fact of life that at one time or another young children will be expected to wait quietly with a parent in places such as the DMV, for food to be served at a restaurant, in line at the post office or in a doctor’s office waiting room. Teaching children to wait quietly instead of throw french fries or run around distributing envelopes to the 26 people in line is front of you is an important requirement for parents. This time of year- with frequent trips to the post office, bank and dinners out with friends and family- makes for lots of time spent in adult environments for young kids.
I know, kids will be kids and no one expects your toddler or preschoolers to be silent and still like statues all the time. Even so there are times when wiggly, noisy kids are fine and times when calm, quiet and occupied children are a must. One way to encourage quiet and still little bodies is to arm yourself with a quiet bag or two. Quiet bags are small bags of fun things to occupy children. These bags are stashed in your handbag or diaper bag ready to be put into action at a moments notice. I’ve been carrying quiet bags and activities for my children since my oldest was just a toddler. Along the way I’ve learned some tricks to make quiet bags a success.
1. The items in the quiet bag should be quiet. Noisy toys and activities defeat the purpose.
2. Include something special in the busy bag. A bag of things your child uses or plays with on a regular basis might not hold their attention long.
3. Items that encourage creative and free play are best. Things like crayons and paper can turn into dozens of different activities.
4. Keep it small. When I say quiet bag I don’t mean backpack, I mean small as in a quart baggie, pencil bag or small zippered pouch.
5. Keep it simple. Things will a lot of pieces and parts or that require a lot of adult interaction will be more work than you’ll want from a quiet bag.
So now that you know the secrets of a quiet bag here are a few examples of quiet bags to get you started.
Small action figures or toys such as cars, dinosaurs or animals allow for lots of imaginative quiet play.
A homemade game like the Clothes Pin Game or simple felt games can be expanded upon to make quiet time last longer. How fast can you match the colors? How can you use these felt pieces differently to make a similar picture? Can you line up the clothespins to make a rainbow?
The possibilities for paper, stickers and crayons or colored pencils are limitless. Pictures can be draw, signs or cards can be made, stories can be written about pictures made with stickers, drawing shapes or writing letters or numbers can be practiced, or a free for all applying stickers to paper are just some of the options.
What things do you keep on hand to keep your kids quiet, calm and occupied? Have you ever wished you had brought something to keep your kids quiet?