Sunday by Sunday, I’ve implemented strategies that make worship a better experience for everyone (me, my kids, and the saintly people who have to sit nearby). Maybe one of these will work in your pew.
Strategies for (Single) Parenting in the Pew:
1. Dad can help. I may feel like I’m a single mom, but I’m not. My husband is amazingly effective with his pre-service “this is what I expect” talk. (And I hope for true single moms, another man in the church could fill this role.)
2. Wiggle before worship. Five minutes before church starts, I take the kids outside and tell them to “get their wiggles out.” They chase each other around, run up and down stairs, and make some noise. The resulting calm is worth a few grass stains!
3. Make a friend. Carla is my backup. She comes to church alone, anyway, and kindly sits nearby in case I need to rush out with one child, leaving another child in her care.
4. You drop it, it’s gone. Along with “sit down” and “be quiet,” this is my rule for church time. It encourages my boys to stop fiddling with their pencils or bulletins, and saves me from crawling under the pews mid-sermon to retrieve lost objects.
5. Stay. . .or pay. I invented this after my oldest was first toilet-trained as a way to discourage frivolous trips to the bathroom during worship. Before church, I take them to the bathroom, then the boys know they each have two candies waiting for them at home. If they leave worship, they forfeit one candy. If they have an accident in their pants, they forfeit both candies.
6. Something sweet. According to a friend, there is a Dutch tradition of giving children candy in church so they experience the Word as “sweeter than honey” (Psalm 19:10.) This is a tradition I'm happy to borrow, and every week, I bring a little sweet to our pew.
I’m still working on preventing chaos during the post-worship fellowship time, so if anyone has a suggestion. . . .
Are you a ministry mom? Starting next week, I’ll begin posting a 3-part series: “Raising Ministry Kids who Love the Church.” There are no magic formulas; every child, parent, and church is different. But in my life, as first a ministry kid and now a ministry mom, I've learned a few things that I'll share. Check back Friday for the first part: Ministry Kids are Sinners Who Need a Savior.