I hate jumping on a bandwagon, and if you’re on Pinterest you’d be forgiven for thinking the whole world does Busy Bags, or Toddler Activity Bags. In a chat on Facebook today, however, it turns out that’s not the case, and in fact there are many mothers that don’t even know about them yet. Colour me pleasantly surprised!
Busy bags are pre-made, pre-prepared bags of activities for toddlers or babies – activities vary depending on ages – that a busy parent can reach for and give to your little one when you need ten minutes worth of entertainment. Some bags are things they can do on their own, and some are joint activities. Ideally, everything you need for a bag is in it – so if you have a colouring book, you’ll also have some pens or crayons. If you have a craft activity you’ll also have glue and scissors, or at least have them near by.
Well, if I have to make an important call, Ameli loves taking that exact moment to really need some mama time – grab a Busy Bag and she’s normally distracted enough for me to do what I have to. Same applies for making dinner or going to the loo! You can also take appropriate busy bags out with you on car journeys, to a restaurant or as we are, on really long flights. The list is endless really. We had a bunch of busy bag activities for Ameli to do by the side of the pool during Aviya’s birth, and more for the early weeks of breastfeeding. It was a god-send.
Busy bags don’t have to be expensive, but they do take some planning. We currently have only about 10 busy bags still in action, but I’m working on it. Ideally, I’d probably like about forty bags so that I can rotate and alternate, keeping the activities new and fun and having some available to do every day. That will vary from person to person though, dependent on your needs.
I also think Busy Bags are a wonderful preparation for home schooling. We sit at the table, working together or separate, and they mean that I don’t run around trying to find things for us to do in the ‘heat’ of the moment – instead everything is there, ready, calmly and peacefully waiting.
What Bags Do You Use and How Do You Store Them?
Most people seem to use plastic ziplock bags for busy bags. I liked the idea of brown paper, but in the end it really didn’t work for us. You had to open each one to see what’s inside, and they weren’t as hardy. I got some heavy duty large plastic bags* (US link) and a trouser hanger (called a skirt hanger in the US), and the bags hang on those quite comfortably and neatly. The bags are not cheap, but I recommend heavy duty versions as they last longer and work better.
Some people ‘file’ the busy bags in tubs, but I find that too messy and untidy looking as everything flops about.
Over the coming weeks I’ll be sharing some of our busy bags with you. Most of the busy bags I’ve made myself, but some I’ve bought bits for,or taken broken up toy sets or even second hand items and made them busy bag fillers.
Do you use busy bags? What are your child’s favourite activities? And ‘fess up! What’s yours?