Every Sunday, we go to church as a family. We attend a pretty vibrant and loud church,
which my daughter absolutely loves but then the preacher begins to prepare as the sermon is about to be given and that’s when all hell breaks loose. My daughter all of a sudden decides that the church is now too quiet and she must take charge and fix the solution.
Sometimes we get the sympathetic stares from others as we try to shh her into quietness. We give her the stare-down, you know, the “you-better-behave-yourself-and-shut-up” look we once suffered from our parents. We’ve tried to be diplomatic with our toddler, let’s just say that didn’t work. Eventually, we just ended up annoyed at our toddler, defeated as parents and embarrassed at our “failure” as church parents.
I spoke to a friend of mine who is also having the same issue as me. We would meet with restless toddlers in our hands, understanding each other’s struggle all the while sharing what we were going through as mothers. Another friend of mine altogether stopped going to church because her toddler wouldn’t stop making noise. I realized this was an all too common issue for not just myself but many church attending parents, so I prayed about it. Is there a way to make church enjoyable for the whole family?
Expect What You Get At Home
My toddler is a loud, exuberant, vibrant ball of energy. She loves to laugh, sing and dance. She’s always been that way. She loves to run, jump and make new friends. She’s super fun. To be honest, I should’ve known better than to expect her to instantly shut that down just because we entered a building. Come to think, that was silly on my part. She’s comfortable enough to be herself in a different environment and that’s great. I’m just saying I got what I got. I have a loud kid. She’s a great kid, but she’s loud. I can’t expect her to be a completely different person because of where we are. And come to think of it I wouldn’t want her to.
Engage Them In Worship
This may be easier to do if you attend a church that practices worship in a musically loud way. I find that my worship expression takes on a different form when we worship together as opposed to letting her figure it out by herself. During worship we clap our hands, dance, shout, sing, sometimes we run. She’s involved in all of it. In fact, we even do this at home. So when she sees it at church it’s not foreign. She’ll say, “Amen and Hallelujah”. As of late, Jesus has been her favourite word to say. (I did not force it on her!) Bring the church experience down to her level, you may be surprised at how your perspective may change when it comes to the way you do church.
Entertainment is Your Friend
Snacks, videos, colouring books whatever you need to keep them quiet, DO IT! Go all out. Does your kid love watching Peppa Pig? Then bring Peppa Pig to church. God can save Peppa. Does your baby love to eat animal crackers? Then let your baby become the ark the animals get on it during church (I know cheesy Sunday School joke, lol). Does your toddler enjoy colouring? Then let them creative in the sanctuary. You never know, you could be raising the next great artist. I mean the Sistine Chapel ceiling was painted by Michelangelo in church, right? At the end of the day, church is meant to be enjoyed not dreaded.
Step Away When Necessary
Sometimes your little one needs a time out and that’s ok. Sometimes you need a time out and that’s ok too. Growing up, church used to last a good six hours. Yea…I’m not doing that to my baby girl. If that works for you, cool but be ready to take a break because your little one needs it. For us, the church service takes place during her nap time so we know that halfway through we’ll take her to the lobby and she’ll take her nap. Sometimes frequent breaks are necessary and that’s alright. At the end of day, we’re at church. We had a goal and the goal was to go to church as a family. Maybe your little one needs a snack, step away. Maybe your little one wants to fix the quietness of your church (like mine does every it’s time for the sermon), time to step away. Or, maybe your toddler is inspired to train for a marathon and the church space is the appealing ground for your toddler, (I don’t know, it’s the only logical idea that comes to mind), guess what? It’s time to step away. Don’t be afraid to step away with your little one and press the reset button.
I hope that this is helpful. How do you keep your sanity with your toddler at church.