These toys and activities might just save your sanity this Sunday.
Having a designated “Mass bag” can be a game-changer for many families. But once you have one, what should you put in it? Maybe last week you optimistically packed a Matchbox car or puzzle, only to have your two-year-old launch it as a projectile three pews in front of you. Deep breaths, mom and dad. No shame. We’ve been there, and we’ve done the trial and error for you. Here’s the dos and don’ts of filling your toddler’s Mass bag. Hopefully these ideas will help you sit through the entire homily, at the very least!
First, theDON’Ts …
Don’t bring a toy that makes noise. Some of these are obvious (If it makes a loud sound when you press a button, leave it out), but you’ve also got to watch out for those sneaky rattles and soothers. Sophie the Giraffe seems like a great idea until all you can hear is “squeak, squeak, squeak” all through Mass as your baby gnaws away.
Don’t bring toys or activities with lots of little pieces, unless your child can be trusted with that responsibility. All it takes is one well-aimed swipe from a cantankerous toddler and you’re playing 52-pick-up under the pew. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
And now, on to the DO:
Think quiet, mess-free, and ideally educational about our faith. Believe it or not, there are plenty of activities that fit the bill.
Perhaps the most obvious choice is religious picture books to help your children learn about the Mass and their faith while staying engaged. There are many, many options to choose from in this category. Our family enjoys these (just a small handful of the many options available):
- The lovely offerings at Magnificat, such as A Missal for Toddlers, A Missal for Little Ones, and Jesus Invites Me to Mass
- The charming collection of St. Joseph Carry-Me-Along board books, which feature topics like the Virgin Mary, the Sacraments, and the Saints (and are also available on Amazon)
- Exquisitely illustrated with classic art, The Saving Name of God the Son is a treasure for any Catholic child
- Time for Mass, My Golden Book of Saints, and others from Leaflet Missal
- Theology of the Body for Tots and others from Pauline Media
- I’m Going to Mass and others from The Catholic Company
Taking picture books to the next level are interactive books, also called “quiet books” or “busy books.” Here are a few tried-and-true options:
- My First Interactive Mass Book teaches little ones about the Mass with clever activities and games
- My Bible Quiet Book is a bigger expense, but is heirloom-quality and sure to keep little fingers busy (and check Etsy for more options!)
- Crafty parents might make their own version with this convenient kit or easy tutorial
A baby-safe silicone Chews Life rosary is perfect for those fussy, teething little ones while you pray.
Another mess-free art activity is Color Wonder.
A magnetic drawing board is a timeless classic. You might ask your little one to draw a picture of something he sees in the church.
If you have a lot of prayer cards, you might hole punch their corners and put them on a binder ring for your kids to look at during Mass. That way they can’t be scattered about the pew, and your kids can collect new ones when they visit different churches.
If you think your heart can handle the cuteness of watching your toddler snuggle her St. Therese doll, patron saint dolls are a great “Mass buddy” for little ones. You can find them on Etsy, Instagram, and at Shining Light dolls. There are even plush versions of the Virgin Mary and Jesus.
Crayons and paper are a Mass classic, but you can take them to the next level by printing out coloring pages of saints, angels, Bible stories—the sky’s the limit. These are easily found on Google or Pinterest. You could even look up the readings for Mass and find coloring pages to fit the theme.
Taking small children to Mass can feel like a stressful marathon, but hopefully these tips and ideas can make it easier. If nothing else, know that God sees your valiant struggles to bring your little ones to Mass each week, and He will reward your faithfulness.
If you’ve found something that works really well for your kids, let us know! What would you add to this list?