Taking your toddler (or in my case toddlers) to church on Sunday mornings should be a happy time. Training up your child according to the directions that God set forth is to some, a parent’s duty. from childhood, it is ingrained in our way of living. On Sundays you get up, put on your best outfit, dressed the little ones in cute dresses and slacks and spent the morning and most of the afternoon in religious service. Some times you are expected to return for special occasions and programs.
However, trying to explain these customs and traditions to a two foot two-year old isn’t nor has it ever been easy. Keeping kids in line while still managing to enjoy the worship service can seem next to impossible; but it doesn’t have to be. Just like every other event or activity that we partake in, if you’ve got a plan a purpose and the determination you can get it done. If you have ADHD, IT DOES NOT HAVE TO HAVE YOU.
Before You Go
Pick the right church: The church that you went to prior to having children just may not work for you and your little ones. You may find that the service is too long for the kids to sit through (the limit for my toddlers is two hours. After that, the countdown to chaos begins). Managing kids while trying to engage in worship service involves a great amount of mental energy, so you should consider your own time limit as well.
Other Aspects to Consider that will affect your experience:
- The size of the venue and the volume on the sound system,
- The typical age of the members (are there other parents with children attending?)
- Will there be special services for children?
- Is there a nursery?
- What’s the vibe like? Are there lots of singing and dancing or more reverencing and rituals.
Its a good idea to consider these things with your child or children in mind; however, consider your own challenges and make your comfort level a priority. Your kids will more than likely be uncomfortable to some degree until they get accustomed to the new church-going routine; but if you are uncomfortable, there maybe no one left to tend to anyone.
There is a local church that my husband and I refer to it as “the hot church” lovely there-at least I believe it is. I usually end up leaving not knowing what went down because I spend most the service squirming, peeling off layers of clothes, and looking around in disbelief because no one else seems to mind how HOT it was in there…needless to say, we stopped attending that church.
When You Arrive
- Make note of the exits: Just in case you need to make a quick and graceful get-away
- Sit up close: Naturally, parents of toddlers may we want to sit as far away from the main event as possible. However, staying close to the action helps eliminate distractions and keeps you and the kids engaged.
- Sit on the end of the row: Avoid center isles so you aren’t interrupting service if you have to retreat.
- Smile: Even in the face of your worst case churchgoing scenario, smiles send positive signals to your brain and positive vibes to those around you. Smiling naturally eases anxiety and makes it less awkward to enlist the help of surrounding church goers when there’s an antsy toddler to manage.
Keep In Mind
- Toddlers will be toddlers: You aren’t a bad parent because your kids can’t make it to through a 2-3hr church service. They are kids! are supposed to run wiggle squirm and cry. If the members of the church you attend aren’t accepting of the antics of your toddler, then you should consider if that church is the best church for you.
Perfecttiming: It may not be a good time for you to venture back out to the church house yet. Proving that you can make it to church shouldn’t be your motivation to start going to church. This attitude can make for a bad experience and push you further away from your goal getting the family into the church-going routine. Remember why you are doing it and consider if the time is right. In the meantime try live streaming a service at home and inviting another family in a similar situation to join you…
For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” Matthew 18: 20
- You are establishing a routine: just like everything else, it will be rocky at first. However once you and the kid(s) become used to the rituals and practices of the church and the flow of the day, it will run smoother and you will get more out of the experience each time. So don’t give up too soon and make note of the small improvements to keep you motivated.
Remember that God knows your heart and no matter where you are in the process, He Loves you anyway!
What are some of the ways you survive religious service with your kiddos? What’s the most difficult part for you? Let’s chat about it in the comments section, I’d love to hear from you!