Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Real Story: 5 Practical Tips for Surviving Mass with Kids

A little while back a friend asked for some concrete advice regarding mass with children. I had to admit that as our family has moved from stage to stage I have become less and less concerned with what others thing about my children in mass, and more about whether I am able to really enter into mass despite the chaos around us. I wrote a post to that effect (read here), but the need for concrete help and tips doesn't go away. Here is your practical pos to help you get through the hour.  

Tip 1. If your church has a childcare use it for the 1-2.5 year age. These kids are sooooo little. It is a rare child (our 3rd was like this) who actually will sit quietly at this age. For the rest of them it is just asking a lot to sit quietly for 1+ hours. Having the little ones out of the picture, let my husband and I focus helping the older kids. Once the little ones turned 2 we would start talking about the time when they would be able to come to mass: "Soon you will be big enough to come with us!" etc. You have to keep it positive though. And it is okay if they do not like the childcare. It is just temporary with the goal of having them WANT to leave it to stay with you.

Tip 2. Remind them of the expectations. We remind them all to quiet their hearts and minds as they walk into mass. "Prepare you minds and hearts for Jesus" is a great line.

Tip 3. Try to be reverent from the start. We never really did the snacks-in-mass thing. Up until age three I was fine with a sippy cup in the pew, but not really beyond that. We get drinks from the drinking fountain before we sit down and try not to get up again. We used to also give the kids one mtint each during the homily. It kept their mouth quiet so we could focus on the message but it did tend to make the thirsty. We would also bring mass/saints books. For a while we had a little backpack ready with books and religious activity pads for the littlest ones. It initially worked, but it got to be more of a hassle.

Tip 4. Touch. We are big on affection in our house. I rub the kids hands during the worship. I let the little one bring her blanket and paci in and she snuggle and often falls asleep. One daughter loves to sit in daddy's lap or beside him most of mass. We want our kids to associate Mass with Love.

Tip 5. Practice. When possible, take the kids to daily mass. It is shorter and a stripped down version of Sunday. The parts of the mass are very clear and it helps them to identify the really really important parts of the mass. The congregation is generally very quiet but also very tolerant.

Mass with children is so hard. It really is. Give yourself a little break. Work towards your goal just one week at a time. By keeping the Eucharist at the center of your lives as a family however you will be bringing God's into your life each week. Attending mass and keeping Christ at the center will keep you grounded in the most difficult times!

Thanks for stopping by!

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