It's Sunday morning, a minute before the church bell rings. You've just parked the car, unbuckled the kids, grabbed the diaper bag that Activity learning book spilled under the car seat, and then checked to see if there were any little ones running across the lot. They are! So you gathered your things, ran after them, stopped the baby (and you) from shaking too much, and tried to get them to stop without anyone from the church noticing. phew! You finally made it onto the pew on the first song. The circus has only just begun.
Let me assure you that you are doing the right thing. If you value worship, you need to expose your children from a young age so that they value it too. Children don't learn how to sit in church, listen to the sermon and stand up for prayer if they never experience it. The "bad" news is this: while you teach them that the church is important (and it is!), you, the parent, may not be able to worship as you have in the past. That's okay. This faith education is very important, so be willing to give up some of your comfort to lay a foundation for your children.
There are some things you can do with your children that will help them stay in the Church but will not distract others. You might even be able to listen to a sermon or sing a song if they're busy for a few minutes.
- Bring quiet, soft biblical-themed books or toys. Visit your local Christian bookstore and you will find a few books that qualify. Just bring those books or toys to church to make them special.
- If your community allows, bring a clean snack. No peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, please. Think calmly and cleanly. You don't want to be noticed when your child sips on their straw or spills dark grape juice on the church carpet.
- Sit closer to the front. A lot of parents think it's just trouble, but I've seen larger families sit right in the front or second row. They say sitting in the front helps the child focus on worship, not all the other kids making noise in the back. Good point! Try it a few times and see how your kids react to it.
- Get or make a church bag. This is a small bag that your preschooler can carry alone. You fill it with things he likes and he gets to bring it to church every time. Make sure it has his name on it and that you put in surprises every two weeks. Some things you could take with you are a bag of snacks, a simple notebook for doodling, a coloring book, crayons, pencil, soft toys, dolls, felt books, etc.
- Bring your favorite blanket. Sometimes the children are tired and cannot make themselves comfortable. If they brought their comforters , their pacifiers, their favorite stuffed bears, maybe they would take a nap and you could listen for a while .
- Sewing cards can be fun. I don't know if these are still sold, but the idea is to take some cardboard, make a picture on it (draw one or print it out from the computer). Then use a hole punch to punch holes around the edge of the image. Your little one will enjoy sewing the picture with a shoelace or a piece of yarn. Make sure to wrap tape around the end of the tape so he can easily get it through the holes.
- If sometimes your kids are too much for you, don't be afraid to ask for help. Perhaps an elderly lady will become her "church grandmother". Prepubescent girls often want to learn how to babysit. Leaving you in your bench on Sunday morning is a great workout. Keep in mind that they may not know what to do, so give them some direction.
Everyone expects children to make noise and not always sit still
Everyone expects children to make noise and not always sit still. Don't let your child's behavior discourage you from going to church. On the other hand, people in the church have come to worship. So if your child won't sit still or is whining, please take them outside or stand with them at the back of the sanctuary. Sometimes just getting up and pacing is enough. If you implement some of these ideas, the people in your church will appreciate the fact that you are teaching your children and enabling them to worship in a meaningful way. They might even offer to help you.
More importantly, you teach and model Montessori Busy Books the value of worship to your children. This knowledge, this training will accompany you for the rest of your life.
Proverbs 22:6 Teach a child the way it should go, and when it grows old it will not turn away from it.