This weekend is one of my most FAVORITE times of the year! It's our church's general conference and it only happens twice a year. My kids get SO EXCITED about it because they know I'm going to pull special tricks out of my bag to keep them quiet and entertained while we listen to all of the amazing speeches and musical numbers, so they look forward to it just as much as Neil and I do.
In our church, we believe that there is a modern-day prophet on the earth who reveals God’s will to His children, just like in the Bible! Twice a year the leaders of our church and our wonderful Prophet gather together for a conference. There’s beautiful musical performances and talks (a lot like TED talks, but spiritually based!) on topics such as faith, family, strengthening your relationship with God, and parenting with love. There are four 2-hour sessions that are for the whole family, and in October a women's meeting for girls 8 and older, and in April it's for men ages 12 and older. Although filled to the brim with goodness, it can be tricky to get my kiddos to sit quietly and listen for the entire 8 hours at home. But I've found some pretty awesome tried-and-true tricks that have made a huge difference and today I'm sharing all of them with you!
My #1 tip for General Conference is to BE PREPARED!! Have LOTS of kids activity options that are new and exciting, plus SNACKS!!! Last General Conference, I crowd sourced and asked YOU GUYS about some ideas for keeping kids busy with wholesome activities during General Conference, and I had an outpouring of suggestions. So here is some advice and tried and true ideas that I’m so excited to share with everyone! Make sure to check my Instagram today to see what new ideas everyone shares too!
One idea that I LOVE is doing a toy swap with friends! This costs absolutely nothing and affirms the idea that other people’s toys always seem more fun than your own!
Say no to messes
One thing I make sure NOT to do is choose activities that will make a huge mess for me now or later! I don’t want to have to stop listening or taking notes to clean up gigantic messes; instead I want to encourage my kids to play nicely while trying to feel the warm spirit the Gospel messages bring into our home. The one exception is our washable paints that I kind of keep in my arsenal for when I REALLY need them to be happy and distracted for a good 30+ minutes.
General Conference Printables
Colorly Love has the most beautiful printables that I love to use during General Conference! She has SO kindly offered my readers a 20% discount with the code MINTARROW to get her conference kits (which are only $5) and 20% off their big conference coloring page (which is only $3)! These kits have it all, activities, places to color and take notes, and beautiful drawings! You can print them out for the kids to color OR put it on your iPad to color on there!
Distract, distract, distract
@busytoddler is a child distraction GENIUS! Most of the things that she suggests utilizing to keep toddlers occupied can be found at the dollar store, but I also rounded up a ton of kids activities on Amazon in case you can’t make it to the store before General Conference weekend!
15 Secret Weapons for distracting your kiddos
1. Sticker Mosaic
These sticker mosaics take concentration for little fingers, so they are a big hit when sitting and listening for a couple hours at a time!
2. DIY Jewelry Kit
We LOVE this kit, but make sure to get string! I made the rookie mistake of buying this a couple conferences ago and having no string for my girls to actually make jewelry. Oops! But they still played with it haha so #momwin.
3. White Kraft Butcher Paper Roll
My girls LOVE to color so my go-to is ALLLLL the arts and crafts! This roll of butcher paper equals approximately one hundred hours of creativity and fun!
4. Melissa & Doug Paint Brush Set
This paint brush set is super highly rated and has withstood a LOT of crafting in our home. My girls get SO EXCITED when I give them a chance to paint!
5. Crayola Washable Metallic Paint Set
My girls LOVE this metallic paint set and I (obviously) love that it's WASHABLE. My anxiety level significantly drops knowing that even if it does get on their clothes it's coming right off.
6. Chronicle Books
We got these for General Conference one year and then ended up taking them to church each week for over a year! Such a good “quiet time” activity!
7. Melissa & Doug Solar System Floor Puzzle
Melissa & Doug floor puzzles are the BEST and I love that the kids are learning the planets with this one!
8. Kids Teepee Tent for Kids
Everything is always more fun in a tent! My girls love their tent, and I love how cute it looks in our house! We put it up every General Conference as a play on the part of the Book of Mormon when King Benjamin's people pitched their tents to listen to him give a general conference address!
9. Color Coding Circle Dot Sticker Labels
Color Coding Circle Dot Sticker Labels: these are KEY for doing a ton of the dot sticker activities from @busytoddler like the sticker sort line, apple stickers, sticker line up, rainbow stickers, etc.
10. Sticky Notes
Sticky Notes: @busytoddler does it again with these! She's got some genius ideas that my kids absolutely love to do during conference, like the number line, where you write numbers 1-30 (or however high you want to go!) and then scatter them all over the room, and then they have to find them all and line them up on a wall in order. My kids LOVE this game and it's quiet and mess-free! You can do it with the alphabet too.
11. Matchbox 9-Car Pack
These cars are perfect for the @busytoddler car parade, but obviously once your kids are done with that they can use them to have “quiet” (haha) races down the hall. Hot wheels are also a great option!
12. Fruit Loops
My secret weapon to really get the kids engaged is to play the fruit loop game! We come up with a list of keywords for the kids to listen for in the talks (usually things like prophet, Bible, love, faith, etc.) and when they hear a buzz word they can put a fruit loop on a string! At the end of the talk they get to eat the fruit loops (which is a real treat for my girls!) This helps kids learn to listen while still doing something with their little hands and mouths, as the spirit sinks into their hearts!
13. Color Dot Dominoes
Dominoes is such a classic game for adults, but kids can always find a million other fun ways to play with this game!
14. Mini Jungle Animals Toy Set
This 54-piece set of animals is only $11!! So much imaginative play begins with animals as the star, and again an idea from @busytoddler is to make an animal parade with these. Have your kids sort, match up two-by-two like Noah's ark, create a zoo, so many good creative options with this one!
15. Colored Painters Tape
Colored Painters Tape for Arts & Crafts are key for a lot of the @busytoddler crafts and they won't take the paint off your walls! I especially love that these come in a variety of colors and not just the boring blue you'd get from the hardware store.
Tune in with us
General Conference is my favorite weekend of the year! I’m able to grow so much spiritually by listening to testimonies of so many followers of Jesus Christ. If you love uplifting messages (kinda like TED talks!) all about different aspects of living a happy and fulfilling life, tune into General Conference on churchofjesuschrist.org on October 5-6 from 9-11 a.m. PDT and 1-3 p.m. PDT.