I can’t tell you how long I’ve been planning and how many times I’ve tried to write this blog post. And yet there are many unsuccessful Sundays that go by. Those kind of Sunday’s leave me feeling defeated, wanting to throw an adult tantrum, and often thinking, “I HAVE to write about this! I just know I can’t be the only Parent who struggles like this!” Yet, here I am on another Sunday morning, 8:34 am to be exact, with another failed attempt to make it to first service- even though I live less than 4 minutes away.
Samson, is whining, throwing a toddler tantrum, snotty nosed, trying to crawl all over me as I type… and honestly I just want to turn off all the lights, give one good scream, crawl into bed and hit the reset button. Mind you, we’ve been “getting ready” since 6:30 am, just like every other morning. Why am I typing? I needed a release and the writing juices are fresh. Let me pause to cater to my child………
Alright, now it’s exactly 9:02 am and he’s lying on the couch next to me fast asleep. Maybe I’ll muster the strength to try again for second service at 10 am… most likely not. Especially, if he naps through the “safe window” before we’re late again.
For years I sang on the praise team for church with a front of stage view of everyone coming into service. I always wondered why people would be so late or even bother still trying to come after the last song was done, or even right before the sermon was over. It baffled me for years, but now I get it. I get why the pregnant woman would be late- unexpected morning sickness, or suddenly clothes just don’t fit, or a bad case of morning fatigue. And I TOTALLY get it for the the parent with young children. The rest of y’all I have no words.
There is so much I can say to explain and justify why parents with little’s may be late to church. But I’ll just give a few “simple” reasons why Sunday’s are so hard.
There is the figuring out what to wear, or someone can’t find their shoes (or often in my case, the lint roller). There’s the breakfast and clean-up not going as expected. Then there’s the unexpected spit up/throw up/poop/blow out diaper, just as you’re walking out the door. Oh and the morning nap time or nursing window. If they missed their nap/nursing window, you juggle with the decision to push them back so you can arrive on time with an overly cranky child or hungry child, or interrupt nap time and get to church late, or just skip church all together, so they can nap. I’m not over-exaggerating when I say the rest of the day could go way sour if they missed that crucial nap time. Napping and sleep schedules are something no parent wants to mess up. An overstimulated and tired child is seriously no fun.
Oy vey! But, you know, I can’t vent without giving us all some tips and encouraging nuggets. So, here are four.
Prep First, Dress Baby Last- Prep as much as you can the day or night before for the kids AND yourself. Trust me, if it’s not picked out, sorted, and ironed before that morning, you have just signed up to be stressed and late. Even if I don’t have time/energy to pull out his clothes, I at least know what he is wearing plus a back up and I know where everything is. As for me, my successful mornings are when I already have my outfit picked out and tried on down to the last detail of jewelry and shoes. That way in the morning I just pull everything out and put it on, nothing to double think about. If you’re concerned about your attire, keep it simple. 9/10 times no one is really checking out what you look like, all the attention is on the kids. As long as you’re decent and have on matching shoes, I think you’re good to go.
Also, dress yourself first and dress baby last. The least amount of time they are in their clean clothes and clean diaper, the least amount of time they have to mess it up before stepping out the door. If you can get diaper bags ready the night before, do so as well. Plus, if you want to go the extra step, have breakfast planned as well.
Take a Time Out- One day, your goal will no longer be “if I can just make it in the door”. If you get to church late, and are high on the anxiety and stress of the morning – don’t be afraid to take some time in the parking lot to calm down a couple notches before going in. I rarely was able to get anything out of service on the days that I rushed in on my anxiety high. I would try to sneak in the side door to avoid chit chat, because I just wanted to make it in to enjoy at least one praise and worship song or the sermon period. But once I made it in, I still couldn’t even enjoy it because I was still so high on the stress that I just wanted to sit in the back corner and cry. That’s not a good way to experience the service. So take a time out if you or your child needs it.
One Sunday at a Time- Just like with parenting, you have to take it one day at a time. If it doesn’t work out today, don’t beat yourself up about it. You can always try to get in a devotion at home, throw on a song or two and have some praise and worship as a family, or tune into a church’s service online. Don’t worry, Jesus still loves you if you miss a Sunday or two. Remember, it’s about maintaining your relationship and connection. You can tap into God, even outside of the church walls, any day of the week.
If All Else Fails, Remember this- This too shall pass. In the big scope of their lives, this is a small season that will be over before you know it. There will be something else to worry, stress, and contemplate about. During these phases, enjoy them while you can. Each season has joy, pain and humor of their own. Teach your kids the love of God while they are young. My mom always said that the family is the first ministry. It’s our responsibilities first to train our children. If making it to church is not an option, at least you have the ability to teach them what they need to know from home throughout the week.
I know I’m not alone with all of this, and parents neither are you. Just try again next Sunday, and one day you’ll be on time, relaxed and ready to enjoy all that God has in store for you during service.
Sincerely, Mrs. Mommy