What’s free, easy to make, and kept my one-year-old quietly occupied all the way through a Sunday sermon?
This glorious little spice jar of Q-tips.
For several weeks, I packed my purse on Sunday mornings with a few go-to activities: a baby doll, some board books, and snacks. But the excitement of the doll’s magnetic pacifier was starting to wear off. Board books, we learned, are a lot of fun to hit against wooden pews. And snacks aren’t much good when the baby isn’t hungry and just wants to play. I needed a new strategy—and that meant some new activities.
When I saw this one, I figured it was worth trying—I could make it in just a few minutes with materials I already had at home. (I think I first saw it on my friend Christine’s Facebook page—it was either there or on Pinterest!)
I looked through my spices and sprinkles to find the right container. Thankfully, we had an almost-empty jar of Italian seasoning with holes the perfect size for Q-tips. Once I used up the last of the seasoning, I removed the label, washed the container with soapy water, and then filled it with clean water and baking soda to help neutralize the remaining smell. Super easy.
That Sunday, as we settled into our pew and waited for the service to start, I pulled out the empty jar and a plastic baggie of Q-tips. First, I showed my daughter how to put the Q-tips through the large opening. She mastered that part instantly—it was almost too easy, but she seemed to enjoy it.
Then, we moved on to “level 2”: putting the Q-tips in the small holes. This took more concentration and time, but it wasn’t difficult to the point of being frustrating. I handed her the Q-tips one at a time, just to make sure they wouldn’t go flying out of the baggie.
I wished I had packed more Q-tips, as she didn’t want to give up the jar so I could pull them out to start again! But she had fun shaking the container, and the Q-tips jumped around quietly.
The next Sunday, I added straws. These were a little more challenging for her to fit through the holes, but I liked adding a new layer of difficulty.
This Sunday, I plan to add some pipe cleaners, so she has another texture to work with. Since we don’t do this activity at home, I expect the novelty will last a while, but I still want to find small ways to keep it fresh and interesting. And as a bonus, those little changes won’t take up any extra room in my purse!