I’m remembering back to the days when attending church with four little kids in tow was always some kind of “adventure”. Just getting out the door without some kind of diaper explosion or meltdown, or emergency need to sit on the potty for a half an hour as we were rushing out the door would be considered a win. Getting out the door dressed, buckling everybody in the vehicle and remembering all the snacks, blankets, sippy cups and changes of clothing was just the first hurdle. There was still the early morning setup, and sitting through a church service with four children ages 5 and under, two of which would have been in diapers at the same time.
Looking back, one of the hardest days was shortly after I’d just had my third baby. It’s that third child that makes you realize how easy having two kids actually was, because at least you were born with two arms and could wrangle them both at once if need be. I quickly found out that holding a baby while rodeoing two little boys was just next level.
This particular morning started out strong with my youngest boy peeing his pants shortly after we had arrived for church. He was already potty trained and for some reason I didn’t have any emergency spare clothes with me. With so many other toddlers in church back then, I was saved from having to drive all the way back home, and was able to round up some pink princess pull-ups from a friend. My kid was running around like a crazy man with his bright green crocs, wearing pink pull ups without any pants for the rest of the day. So there was that!
Truth be told my husband wasn’t much help on Sundays, so that sort of added to the stress of bringing these little ones to church. (I’ll give it to him that he was on the stage leading worship and preaching during church, so he wasn’t actually available to help me whenever there was a circus.) There would have been no kids ministry on this Sunday, probably because I was the one who volunteered for kids ministry back in these days and would have been taking a week or two off after having a baby. At some point during the service, I was sitting down with the kids and nursing my newborn baby. My two boys took that as their opportunity to escape from the row where they were sitting with me. They were ignoring my crossed eyebrows and stern whispers along with my firm sign language gestures communicating their little lives were about to be over.
I had no choice but to get up to stop them from trying to become the centre of attention. Trying not to expose myself while feeding a baby and chasing two wild boys, I quickly realized I was outnumbered. I did my best to wrangle them up with my one free hand, and stay fully covered to spare myself more embarrassment while everybody was watching. They weren’t having much of it, and seemed to be enjoying themselves even more. I know tears fell at some point because it was just so terribly hard to be there. (For the record, consider being the person who is willing to help a mom out at church when her little angels are showing their darker side – especially when she has a newborn in tow.)
When you look around and see kids and teenagers sitting through church nicely, I want you to remember it wasn’t always that way. My kids, just like your kids; wiggled and squirmed and misbehaved, and had to be taught to sit through a service. I used all the methods to bribe them, and convince them to be quiet and sit still. We had snacks, and drinks and more snacks, and quiet toys and colouring sheets and all the things that would help them get through the service. What helped them learn how to be in church? Coming back week after week even when it wasn’t convenient. They not only learned to sit in church but to LOVE being at church.
Right now, church in person isn’t easy for parents of young children. Without childcare and kids ministry it is certainly much more convenient to stay home. It would be tempting to just stay home and “watch” the service. It’s so much easier to let them run around your own house, (probably naked and eating all the snacks), while not having to worry about the noises they make or having to teach them to sit still. (For the record, at Generations, we welcome the noise of little kids at church who are learning how to be still, and we love that they are there!)
If we only attend church when it’s convenient, our kids will learn to do the same. So please, don’t let having kids be the reason you stay home, let it be the reason you come.
❤️ Pastor Amy