As a Catholic mother, one of my most important roles is to teach our Faith to our children. Attending Mass regularly exposes our children to our most central themes of our Church – seeing and receiving Jesus in the Eucharist.
With small children at home, it can be easy for mothers to ‘take a pass’ on Mass attendance, thinking, “I’ll do it when they’re older”. It can be a daunting task to get one child up and out the door for church, much less two, three, or more! If we wait to take children to Mass until we think they are ready, we may be missing out on formative years to build a familiarity with such an important part of our lives.
Ready to climb the mountain? Try some of these tips to help make Mass with children a little less stressful.
1. Arrive Early
Take some time to arrive early, to let your children burn off a bit of stream before the main event. Walk around your church, admiring the decor – statues, holy water fonts, candles, and point them out to your wee ones.
2. Sit Up Front
Is your child easily distracted? Sit right up front, so he can see all the action. He’ll be able to observe the priest at work, which may hold his attention.
3. Plan an Escape Route
In case of a potential toddler meltdown, the last place you want to be is in the middle of a packed aisle. We aim for aisle seating, perfect for the fast getaway if we need one.
4. A Little Special Something
I try to keep toys and treats that are specifically for church packed away, and only bring them out when we are at Mass. Ideas would include books, stickers, and soft toys. I’m planning on making my children something like this Nativity quiet book soon.
5. Do it Daily
Have you considered a Daily Mass? These are usually shorter, and less populated than the weekend or Holy Day Masses, and can be much more tolerable for young children. In my local parish, our Moms group is planning to attend one Daily Mass a month, bringing along our young children. We’re introducing our children in the Faith, and breathing a little easier, knowing we’re not alone in our quest.
6. Have a Snack
Some may frown upon this one, but I always pack some mess free snacks and water for my children. Depending on the time of Mass, hunger pangs may hit.
7. Hide out in the Back
Sometimes, sitting up front just doesn’t work well. Seating your family at the rear of the church may cut down on some distractions, and makes for an easy getaway to the cry room.
8. Try the Cry Room
Personally, I don’t like the cry room. My children seem to be even louder and rowdier there, and not all parents have the same expectations of behavior. We tend to reserve this for times when other distractions just don’t work.
You’re not alone — millions of mothers have been right in your shoes. I like to think of this verse, when I’m feeling a bit stressed with my children at church.
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
Do you want your children to feel close with Jesus, Mary, our beloved saints and priests? Exposing them early and often is key.
Have other tips for handling Mass with young children? Be sure and leave a comment, so we can all learn from you.
Dianna struggles with getting all four of her children to Mass, including her identical twin boys! She hosts Saints and Scripture Sundays – a weekly link up to share your favorite saints or scriptures with others. You can read more about her at The Kennedy Adventures.