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Busy Bags by Busy Moms

Going out to eat with my kids can be a nightmare. An absolute disaster. Come to think of it, going anywhere that requires waiting at this stage is bound to be awful. Because of this, I try to keep the ever-present diaper bag stocked with some simple “busy bags” with fun activities for the boys to do while we wait at the doctor, restaurant, or anywhere else we need to be relatively quiet and still.

I was overwhelmed by the gorgeous but labor-intensive busy bag and quiet book/bag ideas on Pinterest.  They do indeed look fun, but I’m going to be honest with you here…I’m not going to put that much time and energy into making something that will be thrown into the diaper bag hurriedly along with crackers and sippy cups.  I need something simple and mess-proof. Something that won’t make me want to scream if it gets bathed in milk.  Sure, you could hand over your iPhone, but again…the milk, the mess, the “Please don’t call Mommy’s boss!”

Here are some ideas for putting together your own easy busy bags for toddlers and preschoolers, suitable for busy moms!  I have put mine into zippered plastic bags — I know, I know, not very eco-friendly, but they’re waterproof. And cheap!  I keep all of the bags in a basket and rotate them out every few weeks (or when I start to tire of the current ones in my diaper bag).


We have a lot of puzzles in our house.  Many of them are board puzzles and therefore too large to go into a diaper bag. But we do have some that come apart into pieces and are small enough that they can be done at a restaurant table.  Ideally I would have a photo of each completed puzzle on the bags, but then again…this is a busy (you know, or lazy) mom busy bag. So no photos.

Simple Games

We love our subscription to Highlights for Children’s High Five magazine.  Every month has great new content and a bonus game or book to tear out from the back of the magazine.  I have cut out and arranged the games, each in their own bag with directions, in their own bags.  Some are matching games, others are more like board games, but they are all simple and easy for little ones to play.
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Flash Cards

Even places like The Dollar Tree have cute flash cards for teaching words, letters, and numbers to little ones. Spencer got some neat flash cards with stickers for his birthday and those have come in handy when he needed something to do.

Felt Play

Once again, there are some amazing felt play ideas on Pinterest but I’m all about easy.  Cut out some shapes, have at least one large piece in the bag to be your “canvas” and let them create!

Easy Activities

I have made a simple weaving card from a piece of thick cardboard and an old shoelace.  It took all of five minutes to make. I also have a matching game that we made last year in my MOPS group using Scrabble tiles, stickers, scrapbook paper, and glue/ModPodge. Simple simple simple!

 I also took out a few of the Hidden Pictures pages from our High Five magazine and “laminated” them with clear contact paper.

Pre-Made Busy Bags

If you don’t even want to fool with the simple ideas above, feel no shame! I, too, have several of these bags that you can pick up anywhere, with Crayola Color Wonder paper and markers or other coloring and sticker books.

Other Ideas for Busy Bags

Here are a few other thoughts I have on creating some simple, lazy mom busy bags:

  • A few small notepads and crayons!  I’m always getting little junk notepads and my kids love to scribble or practice writing on them!
  • Notepads and stickers!

What other ideas do you have? Do you have “busy bags” for your kids? What’s in them?

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About Krista

Krista is a full-time working mom of two boys, currently aged 6 and 7. She lives in Kentucky with her husband, Brandon.


  1. Kristine says:

    oooo thank you for this!! I have a highly active 3.5 year old who is an embarrassment to take anywhere (not only is he highly active but highly defiant right now… fun fun!) I never heard of busy bags so after reading this I ran to the little craft basket we have a made up some quick bags. I hope they keep him entertained better (he likes his ipod but recently cracked it because he got frustrated and threw it!) and helps everyone’s sanity better!! I’ll be doing some craft store shopping this weekend to get some more stuff! Thanks again for the wonderful idea! ~Kristine

  2. Oh great!!  
    What did you put in your first few bags?