There are times to be LOUD and there are times to be, well, quiet. Places such as the doctor’s office waiting room, the church pew on Sunday, or even a restaurant waiting on your food to arrive are all areas in which children may struggle with sitting still and staying quietly occupied.
Enter QUIET BAGS. The idea is not only are they to be used ONLY when you really need your kiddos to be quiet (otherwise they lose their appeal), but the items contained inside are also quiet. No loud toys, electronics, or things with tons of pieces that will fall under the waiting room chairs. The items you can throw in a quiet bag are endless, but I have learned over the years that the more “stuff” I have for them to dig through, the faster they become bored and resort to playing with my Visa card. So, I have narrowed these items down into four categories: mess free art, books and photos, small healthy snacks, and favorite toys. Hold on to your hats, people. I’m about to take you on a magical, noise free ride:
Back to school time is the perfect time of the year to find cute, portable coloring books on the cheap. I love the “mess free marker” approach, where the color shows up on the paper but NOT on Great Aunt Letha’s church skirt. Brilliant. My boys have also loved drawing on the church bulletin with a pencil and decorating it with stickers lately. Easy peasy. We are also huge fans of the Play Pack coloring books that give you a small coloring book, stickers, and four crayons for a $1.
It is just me, or are my kids the only ones that instantly ask for a snack or food when we are waiting on their name to be called at the doctor? Packing simple, healthy snacks instead of gum or lollipops get them through that period of sitting still and bonus? You can string those cheerios to make a necklace to their little heart’s content (we love the organic ones from Aldi!). And if you are eating or drinking, essentially you should not be talking, right? Right? Sigh. One day that will happen, huh? All snacks come with some sort of mess quotient, so I try to choose things that if they are accidentally (or intentionally) spilled, that clean-up is easy.
Most kids love to read, but there is something about the books at the pediatrician’s office that many, many nose picking fingers have thumbed through that spurs me to bring my own. Also, a photo album is so fun! Kids love to see pictures of themselves and their friends, especially from the early days of childhood, so there are plenty of things for them to read and explore to keep them occupied until you can get that shopping cart (finally!) to the cashier.
My kids have always been into small toys that they can move and manipulate. No lights or sirens on these babies, just good ol’ fashioned cars and dolls. (Or, if you are like me and find random McDonald’s toys in your parents’ basement from your 90s childhood, those would be awesome. Remember the Chicken McNugget toys or the California Raisins from Hardee’s? Thought so).
You could always throw all of this awesomeness into a small, reuseable bag (Target has some cute Dr. Seuss ones right now!) but the good thing about a clear, ziplock bag is that 1.) most everyone already has those on hand, 2.) they are reusable as well, 3.) they seal at the top so all of the toys don’t come rolling out into the parking lot when you open the van door, and 4.) it is clear, so you can see exactly what is inside of it.
It is difficult for children to sit for long periods of time and stay quiet. Who am I kidding. It is difficult for ME too. Having fun things on hand when the going gets tough will make the time pass before you know it!