Monday, January 31, 2011

20, 80 and 20 again

When C & K were little babies (non-crawling), we basically only heard about 20% of the message on any given Sunday at church, for months on end.

At the time, it felt like going to church was a waste of time and I said something like this on FB once. A colleague in the US said something which stuck with me - "you have to keep going because it's about keeping the habit going and starting the babies on the right foot".

Fantastic - that encouraged me. And then it got better - TONS better. We were getting to hear 85 - 80% of the message every week - bliss!

I guess I thought that the difficult stage was over...ha!

I'm not sure exactly when it happened - probably the last two months or so but it's been bad again.

And we work with their schedule and are super-prepared except for the one week after our holidays when we forgot toys and Connor ran around stealing all the other kids' toys... but let's not go there!

We go to the second service which starts at 10:30. They nap in the mornings at home and the minute they wake, we fly off to church.

They stay in the pram until the praise and worship is nearly over and then Kendra starts telling me she's hungry.

They now do the twin thing so Connor also jumps on the bandwagon and is suddenly also hungry.

So we feed them their snack in the pram (usually stewed apples, plain yoghurt and a Provita or two) and then let them loose.

This is the problem - they see other kids' juice/ chips/ sweets/ toys and it is all too exciting so must explore and investigate. Also, people like the door open so to a toddler, that spells freedom. And of course, even though our kids are relatively well-behaved, I still don't want them annoying other people and keeping them from hearing the message.

After all, the purpose is to hear the Word, not so?

And so we're back to 20%.

Our kids were marginally better behaved in church this week than last week - but still... within 5 minutes I'm hot and bothered running around after them - I don't even bother taking my Bible anymore as I don't even get to take it out. I'm relying on snippets and trusting that the Word will not return void and that somewhere VERY deep inside, there's something taking root :)

But this has got me thinking I need to maybe try to take them to children's church again.

I tried a few months ago (I don't think I told you that) and the caregivers (!) did not meet with D's or my approval. I became one of those people and even wrote to the pastor in charge (casually, via a message on Facebook :)) and things were still the same the following week.

Now they are walking they'd be in another class so maybe it's time to try again? My one church friend told me today she also wants to try leave her girl but she's scared (that one is very clingy) of the screaming... so I said, "let's do it together".

Safety in numbers and all that jazz.

Also, this could be a lovely slow transition to being with other kids...

For those who go to church, what's the situation with your kids? Do they stay with you, go to children's church, or what? Any tips?

9 comments:

  1. I have forgotten how difficult little ones can be in church...and you have double trouble with your twins;-D

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  2. Not that I've gone in a million years b/c I suck and am going to Hell, but our church has a daycare that I would be love with if we actually went.

    God, that didn't help at all, did it? I'm pretty sure that just made me feel guilty about not going to church!

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  3. Oh, goodness...we don't even TRY to take the girls in the service with us. We stopped doing that a little before a year old, I guess? When they were big enough and mobile enough that they were no longer content to sit quietly in our laps. They went in for the Christmas Eve service and it was madness.

    Our church is pretty small (around 130-150 people average on Sunday mornings) and we have one nursery during the main service... generally for ages 5 and under. There is one paid worker and one rotating volunteer, so the girls have gotten comfortable with the same familiar face each week. The nursery gave them their first dose of interacting with other kids and being dropped off with a caregiver. Give it a try! It's a little relaxing to sit and listen, knowing they are playing and having fun elsewhere!

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  4. We stopped going because it just seemed pointless. Now instead we stay home and watch a service on DSTV. We'll probably go back when Ava is old enough to start with Sunday school in a year.

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  5. I haven't gone to Mass for a long time but when I was going it was incredibly difficult with small kids. We don't have children's church and so you have to sit with your kids in the nursery. At one stage we alternated going to Church so that one of us could stay home with the kids. It is difficult but, like you say you have to set the foundation and eventually it will fall into place. ps...it will probably get worse before it gets better.
    xx

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  6. We have a special family service for families with small children, up to about 10 years. There is a puppet that helps the pastor with the message and the music is mostly kids orientated. The message is short for the kids, and then to the point in a bit more depth for the adults. It is the perfect compromise - your kids are with you and it is accepted that some noise is ok. Also, they see other kids sitting still, so they tend to do it.

    I take dried fruit and dry breakfast cerial as snacks. And a childrens bible for each to page in.

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  7. At our church the children stay in for part of worship and then go out for children's church. Whoever is on children duty in our family (that would usually be me) goes with them. They do a bit more worship and then go to their classes. Zoe used to go on her own to Children's church and Ava would be in the cry room (one can see and hear the service there) but she prefers to go to Zoe's class and there are other "siblings" her age that also join the class. A group of 5 moms (including myself) take turns to lead the class and it's great. The kids all know each other as most of them are all at school together (our church has a play school affiliated to but not run by the church). They might do a bit more singing (not when it's my turn), the story and then a craft activity. The kids are mostly still young 3-4 with a few that are 5 and 6 so need help with the craft and there are always a few moms helping. So, the kids absolutely adore going to church but I don't get much "church" out of it myself. We are part of a home group so I do get something every week and Chris or my mom do take them sometimes and I also know it won't be too much longer before I can leave both of them and I know they will love it. So yes, I agree with whoever said you should keep going and keep trying to send them to the creche or children's church or whatever. As they say, this too shall pass!!

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  8. This could get lengthy ...

    many blogs that I follow say it only takes diligence to teach even very young children/babies to sit in church. They do nightly family devotions and the children practice the sit still for God every single night. I might even be able to find some of them if you really want it ...

    However, what has happened with ours?

    Kendra is a social butterfly - always was - and by 4 months was so chatty in SS and church, that I would put her in the nursery for SS, take her out for the song service, and as soon as church began, I would return her to the nursery after I nursed her. She was also a very noisy nurser - and I quickly stopped nursing her in public. She LOVED being with the people and other babies and we never had any problems.

    Vannan was super shy and screamed non-stop until I picked her back up. Since she would sit still, I dropped off 2 year old Kendra to her class, and kept Vannan with me. She almost never went to the nursery. Sometime after she turned 20 months old, she suddenly realized that there were TOYS in the nursery - and Mom and Dad would come back. One day she asked to go to the nursery just shy of her 2nd birthday (it was right beside Kendra's now 4 year old class) and she never looked back.

    Joel is another social butterfly. Although there was no nursery in our tiny church we now attended. So Karen and I watched our two boys alone and chatted about our SS lesson and life in general. Suddenly our church had a baby explosion and there were plenty of people needing the nursery and Joel was happy no matter who was in with him. (Tim says he's going to grow up to be either a politician or a preacher).

    LaRue is a major introvert. She will scream the whole time that she is in the nursery, even if Joel is with her. She will go with Kendra or Vannan. So she stays with me playing quietly on the floor during SS, she has snacks and drinks, sometimes she nurses. She sits with us in church, and when I take the kids (about a dozen) to Jr. church, she comes along. I suspect that sometime in the next 6 months, she will follow Joel into SS, and she'll be a happy camper. But she will never do the nursery thing, because she'll be use to Jr. church.

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  9. Some things you might try ...

    Just take Kendra to the nursery, Connor may sit quietly on your lap, or in the stroller then for the service if he has toys and snacks.

    Keep them with you part of the service, and take them back after they get too wiggly (often it's only 10 or 15 minutes - and that really doesn't even require you to leave a bag for the workers.) And you at least have your full attention on the closing comments.

    Do Devotional training in the evenings at home.

    Try doing church while they are asleep. Up until recently, LaRue often slept right through church. Of course, this might not work for you - it wouldn't have for my Kendra.

    I would assume you already have "church only" books and toys?

    Maybe let them play during the song time, noise is less noticeable. Then put them into the stroller for snack when the service starts.

    Most kids can sit fine in church sometime between 4 and 6. I only do Jr. church through kindergarten - so come September, Joel gets to sit in church. I'll probably keep doing it since LaRue will be almost 2 by then. My numbers will drop - most of my boys are K-1st.

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