Join a Busy Bag Swap Party

Heading out for the day with a toddler, you know you need diapers, wipes, and a sippy cup. But if you hope for a moment of peace, don’t forget to pack a busy bag, too. Busy bags are simple fun activities that will keep your mini me occupied, stored in a plastic pouch or zip-top bag so they are always ready to go.

Recently, Queens mom Amy Lau organized a busy bag swap party. “Basically the idea is that you make a bag featuring some sort of educational, Montessori, or fun activity that will keep your toddler busy, using materials that should cost less than $1 per bag,” she says. “You make a bunch of them and then you get together and swap them with other moms, who also have made busy bags with different activities.” After reaching out to moms through the JHFamilies and Sunnymoms Yahoo groups, about 30 local moms signed up to participate, so Lau set up two different swaps, one for toddlers and one for preschoolers.

Lau followed swap organizing advice from Second Story Window’s busy bag series (Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3) and created a Google doc for each swap group so the moms could sign up for their busy bag projects and know how many bags to make for the swap.

Rules included:
—The bag should cost less than $1 to make (each). It is cheaper and easier to buy supplies in larger quantities—another benefit of a busy bag exchange!
—It should fit into a gallon-sized freezer bag to ensure durability of use.
—Choose and make a bag of the quality you would want to take home and that you think your child would enjoy.
—Include short instructions with your busy bags if necessary.

Earlier this month, Lau’s swap groups met up and exchanged the busy bags they had made, each mom leaving with more than a dozen different busy bags for her kiddo to explore. “I’d love to do it again,” Lau says. Email her at to find out about her future swaps, or plan your own with your mama friends!

Ellen Sturm Niz is an editor and writer parenting, living, and working in Jackson Heights, Queens. Follow her on TwitterPinterestTumblr, and Google+.