Enjoying Mass with Kids: What’s in our Mass Bag

Going to Mass with kids. Oh my how I used to dread it. I remember wondering how I was supposed to be paying attention when all of my attention was focused on keeping a child quiet and behaved. And I laugh now because that was back when we had one child, who also was our quiet well-behaved one. If I only knew what was to come with boys in church!

So here are my Five Simple Ways to Enjoy Mass with Kids

1) Sit in front. I know this sounds crazy. But. It. Works. When the kids can’t see anything but the backs of the heads in front of them they will immediately lose interest and you have no chance of them gaining anything. We don’t always sit in front (it is not hubby’s favorite place, lol!) but the kids request to sit there and I encourage them ;)

2) Establish expectations.

Babies under a year: Nurse/Feed your them right before Mass and they will sleep right through. I use my Sakura Bloom Ring Sling (similar) and baby wear to ensure that baby is cozy and happy.

Busy toddlers*: Give them free reign to quietly play/roam the pew. A sippy with water and a snack cup of cheerios are a great distraction and can help quiet a talkative mouth.

Young children (ages 4-6): Should be able to sit and/or play quietly. Participation is expected when standing and kneeling.

Older children (age 7 and up): Should be paying attention and fully participating in Mass.

*The toddler age has proved to be the most challenging for us and we will take a disruptive child out the side isle to the back when necessary. It is important to remember that when taking a child to the back of the church/cry room that you cannot treat it as a reward. We hold the child until they calm/quiet down and do not let them down to play. It won’t take long for the child to realize that there is more freedom to be quiet in the pew than to be held in the back.

3) Have a family seating arrangement. Once you have more than one child a seating strategy becomes useful. If you are sitting near the front try to get a seat near the side isle so you can leave discretely if necessary. Know your children and place those together that help one another and separate the ones that tend to not get along well. This likely means that you and your husband will not sit side by side and will be seated amongst the children. We sit in the same order each Mass and have (mostly) good luck with the following: (daddy, 8 year old, 22 month old, mama, and 4 year old.)

4) Prepare a Mass Bag. What's in our Mass Bag

This is my secret to getting through Mass with kids and enjoying it. And it only took me 7 years to figure it out… so please take my advice and do not delay putting one together for your family!

I took a handbag that I wasn’t using and made it the dedicated bag to take to Mass. We ONLY get it out for weekend Mass and the kids know that they are not to use any of the contents at any other time without asking. (This is important because you want the books and toys to be “new” and interesting.)

BB1 BB2 BB3 BB4

Our favorite book is the The Busy Bible, a quiet book that covers Creation, Noah’s Ark, The Pillar of Salt, Joseph’s Coat of Many Colors, Baby Moses, Ruth, King Solomon, Jonah, The Birth of Jesus, Fishing for Men, The Good Samaritan, and Dorcas. We have had this quiet book for about six months now and it is still the #1 thing they reach for in the Mass bag. I am looking for another variation of this because I can tell the new is wearing off and plan to use them on rotation to keep things fresh. This one is worth the investment!

CF1 CF2 CF3 CF4

Can You Find Jesus? Introducing Your Child to the Gospel (Search & Learn Books)is a great book for your young child. It is a search and learn book (Where’s Waldo style) that covers the Gospels.

Celebrating Mass (St. Joseph Board Books) is a nice toddler book to help them relate to what they are experiencing. I also have my eye on The Story of Christmas and The Story of Easter to add to our bag seasonally.

Baby’s First Bible: A CarryAlong Treasury A Bible with lovely illustrations.

J1 J2 J3 J4

Jonah and the Whale (A Chunky Book(R)) A huge hit with toddlers and young children alike. We love the small size and they love the lift flaps. I seriously have all of the other board books in this set on my Amazon wish list.

Craft Stick Picture Puzzles. You can make some at home! My tutorial was featured on the Catholic Sistas blog and you can read it here.

My Daily Bread A great small book with ‘real’ pages that a small child can be deferred to when they want the missal in the pew.

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Catholic Icing’s “A Picture Book of the Mass” I cannot recommend this book highly enough. First of all it is put together by a blogger whom we follow and love, Lacy Rabideau. Lacy has done an exceptional job with the artwork and layout of this children’s missal. We gave this as a first communion gift to our daughter and it has helped her immensely to follow along in Mass. We recently had it laminated and coil bound at our local print shop and recommend doing so for longevity.

Rosaries. We like the My First Rosary -20.5″ Large Bead Wood which are great for sensory play as well as learning to follow along during prayer.

Saint Dolls are a huge part of our life and we love learning about the lives of Holy people… and truth be told, sometimes, HotWheels. Because boys will be boys. I am ok with them as long as they are quiet.

We also have the necessities because I do not also carry a purse or diaper bag. Inside of the zippered compartments I have: hand sanitizer, travel kleenex, a few one dollar bills for the kids to put in the offering. And also a ziplock of diapers and wipes thrown in the main compartment.

5) Enjoy Mass. Sing, read along, pray. Be the example that these precious souls need to experience Him on their own. Because our example is the lead that they will follow.  And in the end their relationship with Christ is all that matters.

Tell me, what is in your Mass Bag? Do you have any great book recommendations?

Please share! XO

PS- I am using Amazon affiliate links now on this website!  Thank you for using them!  I hope to share many books and things that we use and love at home with you this way.  You receive the same great Amazon pricing and our family thanks you for your support!

Comments

  1. Erin Weilert says:

    This is a great post Janalin! These are some great ideas. Last week I was in the Joplin Mall and found some great books to add to our bag from For-All Bible bookstore, have you ever been?? Great place, it was hard not to keep spending threre! Do you ever use coloring books? That is what we use mainly now, we have Logan participate in Mass as much as possible since he is 5 and in Kinder. Thanks for posting!

    • Janalin says:

      Thank you Erin! We have not done crayons in the past… I never had a Mass bag back when DD was little. Right now the boys are still not interested much in coloring, but I will keep that in mind for the future! I have also ordered a sample issue of MagnifiKid and am hoping that will be a nice addition to the bag for older children who aren’t quite making it through Mass without something to do ;)

      • Shannon Fichtel says:

        Hi Janalin~ We have 3 kids, almost 9 yr old boy & 4 yr old twin girls. Our son was given a 1 yr subscription to Magnifikid for his First Communion last year. It is WONDERFUL. We will be renewing it when it expires later in 2016.

        • Janalin says:

          I just got my trial order from Magnifikid in the mail this past week and it does look fantastic!!! Our daughter loves her Catholic Icing missal so much though… I’m not for sure she will want to switch. We will try it out and let you all know! XO

  2. Laura says:

    We print out religious do a dot pages and give her those circle pricing stickers. I also print out religious tracing pages like zigzag zag lines, matching, shapes, etc. Our Easter one is from threedinosaurs. Our daughter loves this! Can’t wait to get the find Jesus book and to make a quiet book!

  3. Jennifer says:

    Great book recommendations! I have a children’s Mass book (published by OSV), but the translation is outdated. I was going to get the updated version, but then found this picture missal at Catholic Publishing: http://www.catholicbookpublishing.com/products/123

    My kids (5 and 4) LOVE it! They’re just now starting to read, but they love to follow along with the pictures in the book to know what part of the Mass is happening. The retro pictures are kinda cool too. :)

  4. Maggie says:

    There is a second version of the Busy Bible: Jesus Our Savior http://www.busybibles.com/product/jesus-our-savior-busy-bible/ even my 5 and 9 year olds still enjoy it after a couple of years, although I haven’t brought in a busy bag for a few months now. I have found baby Moses in a pants pocket a couple of times.

    I also let them put money in our tithing envelopes and they write on the envelopes, which is good for about 10 minutes or so (even though we give electronically.) Now I just gave to get to the Church early enough to get everyone to go to the restroom BEFORE Mass starts!

    • Janalin says:

      Oh my goodness! You have made my day! I only wish I would have found it before Christmas… it would have been a perfect gift for our youngest, who was the difficult one to buy for since we already have an abundance of toddler toys. THANK YOU for sharing this!!!! XO

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