4/18/2005

Sunday Morning Battles

Our church is at 12:30. I hate this time. It's possibly the worst time ever for a family with small children. It cuts into both mealtime and naptime, and missing both of these key things will make any toddler into a complete monster. Ask the harried nursery leader. Also, once they moved us to this time, I had to quit the choir, because nobody can practice sacred music with my little demon doing laps around the chapel during our rehearsals, yelling, "I NEED TO GO HOME" over and over at the top of his lungs. But the hardest thing for us is the morning time. Yesterday was especially bad. Spring has sprung, and clearly, it's nicer outside than inside. Hence, Jacob would like to be outside as much as he possibly can. I was trying to prepare a lesson and get dinner together for the crock pot and get us both ready for church, but somehow he couldn't understand my objection to him playing outside on the playground in his pajamas. Nor did he appreciate my admonition to "sit down and don't get dirty" after his church clothes were on. The morning was filled with contention, a mild amount of chaos, an entire outfit change right as we were getting into the car (he wasn't listening very closely to the "don't get dirty" part of my previous message, apparantly) and, alas, a video of "The Iron Giant" just to get him to sit still long enough for me to get everything together. Of course I'm doing this all without DH. If he's not working at the firm on Sunday mornings, he goes in early to church to deal with his calling as ward clerk so he doesn't have to stay too late AFTER church as a ward clerk. I hate that he's the ward clerk. (Now I'm ducking to avoid the lightening strike that is surely coming now that I've openly epxressed my displeasure at not being consulted about calling my husband to a job that takes even more time away from his family, but that's another post altogether.) Then I tried to salvage any kind of spiritual moment as we drove to church by turning on some lovely classical paino music. This prompted a screeching, "I don't like this song! I need Doe-a-Deer!" from the afore-mentioned demon strapped in the back seat, which caused a snarling response of, "NO! We are listening to songs about Jesus on Sunday!" from the woman driving, who was rapidly mutating from sweet Molly Mormon mother to Momma from Hell. I wish I could say that this was an unusual Sunday, but sadly, I'd say we arrive to church harried, disheveled, and wanting to kill each other all before the Sacrament more often than not. There's got to be a better way. Anybody figured one out yet? Oh, and I just remembered that there was a similar discussion about this at FMH, and I'm really not trying to poach. It's not that I think we shouldn't bother--I'm just wondering how to do it better, because clearly, my way isn't exactly bringing the spirit into our home. I mean, Jacob seems to be getting his "Iron Giant" fix, and had a fit when we returned to the video store, but I would like his focus to be on other things on Sunday than just a robot from outer space who shoots people with some wicked awesome guns. I just don't think the nursery leaders appreciate Jacob mimicing THAT for 2 hours.

19 Comments:

Blogger Emily said...

All I can say is: Be glad you don't have 10 kids.

I think with children, Sunday mornings, and church, NOTHING is spiritual. It's just battle after battle that doesn't end until Monday....then a whole new set of battles start.

4/18/2005 06:15:00 PM  
Blogger Kaimi said...

Hmm. You should really consider investing some of that law firm income in a portable DVD player. We've found that they're invaluable for long trips.

I haven't actually used one in church yet. But the thought has certainly occurred to me.

4/18/2005 06:23:00 PM  
Blogger Liesl said...

well, at least you know you're not the only one whose sunday feels like this! We've got 1pm church and it is miserable. The ONLY shining star is that Ellie is old enough for nursery and our nursery leaders (bless them) only summon parents in emergencies. We're having a more meaningful church life than we have in years. But before church is definitely still a battle and sacrament meeting (at the end of our 3hour block for some wierd Utah reason) might as well not happen as far as us getting any benefit from it.

4/18/2005 06:34:00 PM  
Blogger Heather O. said...

Emily-

There's lots of reasons to be glad I don't have 10 kids!

Kaimi-

We've done the DVD rental thing for long plane rides. How do you think Jacob got started on Buzz Lightyear and Superheros in the first place? His harrassed mother got tired of dealing with him (alone, as always) on our trips to Utah, so I plugged him in. He never knew about Buzz Lightyear until then. Now, he decorates himself with lasers on his arms on a fairly regular basis.

Liesl-

Clearly some ignorant male thought up that system of Sacrament being last. I've never had to do that since having Jacob, and it seems to me that could possibly be a really good reason to go inactive until the kids are at least 12.

4/18/2005 06:49:00 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

I don't know if I have any good solutions, but I certainly do relate. I told my mom on the phone recently that I am beginning to hate Sundays and what was the point of going to church when you are wrestling small children the entire three hours, anyways?

She answered that kids need to get into the habit of church at an early age and that they absorb more than we think....I do notice that my Sundays are generally better when I have lessons done before Sunday, etc. Although that cuts into precious time during the week. I also keep my two-year-old up an extra hour or two on Saturday night so he will sleep in Sunday morning - which sometimes helps him get through Sunday without a nap.

However, most Sunday afternoons as I drag myself and my kids onto the subway (we live in NYC) and to church, I spend a reflective moment cursing the stake president and his decision to make our ward with its large toddler population meet in the last time slot, as well as our bishop, for calling my husband into the bishopric at age 27, because his calling along with his job (newspaper editor), allows me the joy of experiencing these Sundays alone with my kids. :-)

4/18/2005 07:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Susan M said...

I remember the horribly toddler years. I did it on my own with three kids because my husband was inactive (he didn't come back to church until my youngest was 4). I decided early on that it wasn't about what I got out of it, but what the kids did (like Jen's mom said). I spent most Sacrament Meetings in the lobby (because I'd have to take youngest out and the older kids wouldn't stay in the chapel without me). Everytime I was ready to give up and just leave, someone would comment on what a great mom I was and I'd feel better.

Our current ward meets from 11-2, which I think it even worse that 12:30. It's lunch time and nap time. And there's no way to eat early enough in the morning to squeeze a lunch in before 11.

I'm the nursery leader, BTW.

Suggestions to make it easier, off the top of my head:

Don't expect too much from a toddler.

Get some LDS kids' dvds.

4/18/2005 07:44:00 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

I have two small kids, and my church life has indeed changed since becoming a mother. I can't handle the idea that "it's not what I get out of church that matters, but just making sure my kids get in the habit." Call my selfish, but I want to also enjoy church. Yes, my church experience is different, and yes, it is important that my kids get used to going to church, but I am not willing to go to church and get absolutely no spiritual revitalization--for me, that leads to maternal anger and resentment.

I don't ask for much--just to listen to a little bit of a talk, just to feel the spirit about something small while at church. I honestly believe that the effort we need to make to feel nourished at church is dramatically and divinely reduced when you have small kids. When I go to church honestly seeking and asking for personal fulfillment, it happens even in the midst of chaos.

I am lucky in that we are all able to travel to and from church together and we can all sit together for sac mtg. However, in both this ward and my previous one, bishopric families with young kids sit near the stand so that dad can help out if needed.

Another thing that has helped us. Depending on the demographics of the ward, there are often families/individuals without small children who love to sit with and entertain others' kids . My daughter has spent church time with different individuals who love to spend 10 minutes drawing with her, reading with her, etc, and that gives us the chance to listen to talks more intently for a period. I do have some qualms about not sitting together as a family for the entire time, but those doubts don't last long.

4/18/2005 08:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Vanessa said...

DH is often gone on Sundays, so in order to actually be able to attend sac mtg (with my 6, 2, and 1 year olds), there are about 4 YW who rotate Sundays to sit with me. I actually get to listen sometimes.

I, too, yearn to have spiritual nourishment, but since my two youngest are 15 months apart, I have had a child in my lap for 26 months straight. That's a lot of meetings without being able to listen 100%.

Things that help me:

Reading the RS lesson ahead of time. It takes about 10 minutes and helps me to get more out of it. And I count it as part of my scripture reading for the day (I cheat every way I can).

Have the diaper bag packed Saturday night. Also have clothes set out the night before (esp helpful for those 9am meetings). This goes along with doing any kind of preparation Sunday morning while children are awake. You all know this is next-to-impossible...attempting it risks your sanity.

Freezer dinners. Yes. Can't have enough of those.

I have two goal times to leave for meetings: 15 minutes before the meeting start is the ideal time to leave. About 75% of the time I make it. The other 25% is my drop-dead goal time of 5 minutes til. Having a goal time helps me manage my time better.

The RS has a 'cry room' where they use a baby monitor to pipe in the lesson. I use it when dc is cranky, but I can still listen to the lesson. There he can play and crawl around without me worrying about him yanking the tablecloth from off the RS room table.

Our RS also has 6 chairs identified as 'mother chairs'. They are in the aisle, so that mothers have easy access to and from the door of RS. This helps me feel like attempting to go to RS, knowing that I have a quick getaway.

4/18/2005 10:34:00 PM  
Blogger Julie M. Smith said...

We had to have a huge smackdown recently because around the time #3 was born, we shifted to Church at 1pm. Here are some things that have helped:

(1) We allow computer/TV time in the morning if there is any possible pretense of religious dimension (think VeggieTales videos and www.veggietales.com).

(2) We store looooots of toys in the garage and we'll bring in a bucket just for Sunday morning and then return it.

(3) Church rules:
--if they are at all difficult (getting dressed, in car, sitting on the bench from the beginning of the meeting until the sacrament is over), they won't get a fruit snack when sacrament ends
--I check out bible story books from the library each week for the kids to read during the beginning of sacrament meeting
--when the sacrament is finished, they can sit on the floor and draw in their Special Notebooks with their Special Four Color Pens.

This has helped a lot.

(You know what I think would be really cool? If every parent would donate a toy/activity/book to the library and then before sac. mtg. you each child could pick something out for use during the meeting and then return it after.)

4/18/2005 10:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Susan M said...

Mimi, I should've explained myself more thoroughly. Once you let go of the "these kids are driving me insane/I'm never going to get anything out of church for myself" frustration, it becomes easier to get something out of it for yourself. Once you take that focus off of yourself, and commit to doing it for the kids, you gain blessings. You know, that whole Matt 10:39 thing.

4/18/2005 10:44:00 PM  
Blogger marian said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4/18/2005 10:48:00 PM  
Blogger Heather O. said...

Julie-

I love the idea of checking out a bible story from the library before hand. Is the library open before church starts, or does your Sacrament meeting come last? We're trying to phase out toys in Sacrament meeting (the Superheros were getting out of control!) and just focus on Jacob reading a book quietly during the meeting. And I do keep a stash of books he's doesn't see every day, so he stays interested. A new bible story every week that I didn't have to lug with me in my already 30 pound bag would be great!

4/18/2005 10:59:00 PM  
Blogger the special one said...

I have found that for my 4 yr old, a sticker book works good. I get a book of stickers, think cheap and small, at wal-mart/target and a small notebook. Then he spends a good amount of time transfering stickers into his notebook. This also works great for car or plane trips. I also give him a pen and he draws pictures involving the stickers. Just an idea, but it works most of the time for us.

4/18/2005 11:12:00 PM  
Blogger TftCarrie said...

"I spend a reflective moment cursing the stake president and his decision to make our ward with its large toddler population meet in the last time slot, as well as our bishop, for calling my husband into the bishopric"

Amen, Sister Jen. Same curses for the same stake pres, same ward with the bad meeting time, and (different dh in the) same bishopbric that takes him away from us during the times when the law firm does not. Bring on the lightning. I don't have two kids yet, but soon I will. I just started realizing how easy it is with one when I was faced the reality of having two.

Here are the things that have worked for us on Sundays:

-I try to put my 2 1/2 year old to bed early on Sat. night so she wakes up early and can then take an early nap (right at 11). I realize that as she gets older this might not work out anymore. But for now, it makes Sunday mornings so much better because I can spend the morning doing activities with her and then I have a little over an hour to get myself ready uninterrupted.

-Most of the time I dress her/do her hair in the church bathroom so A. I don't have to worry about the "admonition to 'sit down and don't get dirty' after the church clothes get on. and B. She gets the most amount of sleep possible before church while still getting there 15 minutes early (something our bishop has asked the congregation to do). So although we are not sitting reverently in the chapel 15 minutes before sacrament (which I think was the idea) we are there at least.

-She has a little backpack with colored pencils, little coloring books, stickers, church board books, and small quiet toys that she only can use on Sundays.

-In this backpack too, there is a small homemade "Lucy's Gospel Book" that my girlfriend made for her. It has pages of those little 2x3 pictures of Christ, the temple, J. Smith that I guess you can get through the distribution center along with pictures of Lucy and church stickers all laminated and spiral bound. If you are into scrapbooking, this is a fun project (if you're not, get a friend to do it for you like me).

4/19/2005 08:21:00 AM  
Blogger annegb said...

:) Hence, my decision to feed those little buggers in the nursery. Healthy stuff. Also fruit loops. I love the nursery, honestly, but we meet at 9 am, so it's not too bad, although the kids do come in hungry from rushing breakfast. We run a fairly laid-back, but tight ship, and they do okay. Really. Maybe not during sacrament, but when we have them. I love those little bodies.

I will really be glad if and when the church eliminates Sunday School and we have shorter meetings.

Jen, I was just in New York! I went to the singles ward at the temple building with my very ill daughter (not contagious ill). It was a wonderful oasis in the noise. I cannot imagine dragging a toddler through the subway journey, it was bad enough dragging a teenager on a cab.

Your comment about the stake president makes me think of our building, designed by the stake president at the time. One bathroom, on the east side of the huge building. Only two water fountains, both on the same side. What was he thinking?

4/19/2005 10:33:00 AM  
Anonymous Andrea Wright said...

It's good to know I'm not the only one who often gets to church with anything but the Spirit. We now have 2:00 which I'm actually loving, because I have plenty of time to finish any primary prep or meetings or dinner. Plus my 22 month old can have an early nap. We previously had the 11:30 time which was horrible. I found that the only hope we had of making it to church in some semblance of order was to prepare Saturday night. I think of that song, "Saturday is a Special Day.." If I had clothes laid out and ironed and the church bag packed, I could wake up Sunday morning without a pit in my stomach.

4/19/2005 05:13:00 PM  
Blogger Kitti said...

I just have to reiterate what Moddy said: Stickers! stickers, stickers, stickers. They have revolutionized Sundays for me. Every time they go on sale I stock up. My daughter sits quietly and transfers the stickers to a notebook and colors around them or makes up stories about them. It has worked so well that I'm even considering starting over with another child. Crazy, I know.

4/20/2005 08:10:00 AM  
Anonymous JKS said...

We'd been married a couple years when my husband told me "I hate Sundays. We always fight. It's like Sundays growing up when my family would be yelling at and my sister would be in the bathroom forever getting ready and we'd be in the car and my dad was swearing."
So, after that, I decided that if me trying to get to church on time meant we were fighting it was pointless.
We now (usually) just get ready. Nobody yells. Nobody fights. When we are ready, we leave. If we are late, I don't care.....what's being late if your marriage falls apart because you spend all Sunday fighting.
It's not perfect. I still would appreciate my husband actually FINDING church clothes for the kids, rather than having me find them and he helps put them on and then he acts like HE did just so much to help out (LOL).
And he seems to think he is already ready, yet when I start sending the kids to the car, he's still looking for his wallet or keys while I'm still trying to pack the bottles and wishing he was really actually ready and herding the kids.
Sigh.
But, it is so much nicer.
The only other thing that has helped is deciding that church with kids DOES take all day. You wake up, and you spend every second of that time getting people ready for church (eating so they can go, etc.). But it is the Lord's day. I remember when Sunday was a day off except for those pesky hours at church. Sunday is NOT a day off for a mom. But deciding that you are willing to consecrate it for the Lord's purpose, is hard but helps you feel it is worth the trouble.
Honestly, sometimes it is "Yay, my kid is sick and we can stay home." And sometimes I do not do my calling perfectly, but perfection isn't what I'm going for. My best is what I'm going for.

4/22/2005 07:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Stef said...

Yes, Sunday mornings are not fun. We just moved. Our previous ward was a 9 and this new ward is at 1. I had forgotten how bad it is to go to the 1:00 ward. Before when we went to the 1:00 ward, I only had one little girl. Now I have TWO girls. (Born on Valentine's Day.) Twice as much work! I am SO glad that I don't have 10. Don't know how those mama's do it.

So now I have been called to be the nursery leader. I have a 3 year-old (still in nursery). I think it's the worst idea to call a parent to teach nursery. The last 2 hours of church is a nice break without the little ones. I'm sure this will be the death of me! Ugh.

8/05/2006 11:57:00 PM  

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