When my wife and I became parents, one of the things we eventually decided to do was start attending church. It hasn’t been something we’ve been able to do every Sunday (my wife usually has to work late on Saturday night) but, whenever possible, we try to go.
At first, this was actually somewhat easy for us because, at the time, we only had our oldest daughter and she was old enough to understand how to behave in an environment like that. However, after our youngest daughter was born, it became a little more difficult. Once she became a toddler, she simply wouldn’t let us pay attention to the sermon. Instead, we were often chasing after her and, at times, would simply have to give up and take her home. And, for a while, we pretty much just gave up attending.
Today, we are able to sit through the services without all the stress. In fact, our toddler is probably one of the most behaved kids in church now thanks to some simple changes.
The first thing we started doing was making sure she had a good breakfast. I know this sounds a bit cliché. But, before, we were usually in such a rush; we would skip breakfast and would make the kids wait until the church’s coffee hour. As a result, our youngest daughter would start getting hungry and, because of that, would be antsy. Now, we make sure to get the kids up early enough to feed them first and, since doing that, she has been much calmer.
Another thing we started doing was getting help from the Sunday school. Technically, my daughter is still a bit too young for the actual Sunday school classes (our church normally starts taking kids at the age of 4). However, the teachers, understanding our dilemma, have been very helpful and let her sit in class anyway. She’s free to play by herself or participate with the other kids, reducing the amount of time she has to sit with us. And, she has even learned a few things from listening to the teachers.
The last thing we started doing was making sure she has something to do. She hasn’t quite reached the point where she understands everything that is going on in church (though she likes to sing with us and does understand when it’s time to take Communion) and, recognizing that, we starting bringing a coloring book and crayons with us. This is enough to keep her occupied so we can pay attention without having to worry about her running out the door.
As I said before, we aren’t able to attend church every Sunday. But, thanks to these changes, when we can attend, it is much more pleasant for everyone.