There are hundreds of books written about any aspect of parenting all with a Christian ring. However, that doesn’t make them a good read or even a great book. However, this one is a great book and an excellent read. It is short, unpretentious, to the point and brilliant. I totally love this book, you can read it in an afternoon, put a whole lot of tips into practice, read it again a little later and glean a bit more.
The first chapter that really hit home for me was entitled “Sunday Morning Starts on Saturday Night”- how true is this! The getting up and going required for a Sunday morning needs a certain amount of preparation, since we as homeschoolers do not have a morning rush any other day of the week, this can be quite a challenge. We keep our Church basket packed at the front door because of this. I have found that if I rush around like a mad thing then so does everyone else, but if I have an idea of what needs to be done beforehand and what we are having for breakfast – it gets out the door smooth and sharply. If we get out the door smoothly it helps us to get to church with a good attitude, as apposed to a seething bundle of frustration.
The idea is that kids can be so distracting at the best of times but especially during times when we want to concentrate on something else – anyone who has ever had to have a phone conversation with toddlers around will know this – well the thing about this book is that she gives you a heap of ideas to train your children to be attentive too. Helping your children to focus on the significance of church helps you to focus on the worship as well.
This book goes beyond “keeping your kids quiet and busy during the Sunday Service,” practical advice on how to keep your kids listening and attentive during the service. It goes beyond hiding them under the pew and hoping they will color in their activity books for an hour. The whole point is to keep them quiet and busy worshipping – Aha moment! That’s what we are there for. Help them to focus on the hymns, think about the words. When a story comes up in the sermon, whisper a little reminder to them: “Listen to this special story.” Or an anecdote – these are there for a reason, they are often really funny or really sad – whisper “Wasn’t that funny”, or “Wasn’t that sad.”
The fabulous thing is: her tips help to keep me listening too and stop my mind from wandering down my lengthy “to do” list… And I find as an adult I often just sing hymns I have known since childhood, but with an eager toddler waiting to belt out a familiar refrain between the verses I can focus on the words too. Just recently we had a sermon on the book of Jonah and a very wriggly five year old next to me… I asked him to gently poke me every time he heard the word Jonah – boy was he listening for this opportunity.
Finally, on the way home from church we ask our kids what they learnt, what they remember. Little ones need a direct question: “What happened when Jonah fell into the stormy sea?” but as they get older they get more interpretive. This quiz (not interrogation!!!) is a great remembering tool – and often on the way to church a little voice will pipe up: “Do you remember what we learnt last week…” How many adults can do this?
In the long run it has been well worth the effort keeping our children in the service, they are indeed members of His family and need to be worship as such. We don’t have especially calm and attentive children – four boys for crying out loud… it takes time and effort. But it really really has been worth effort. Read this book even if your kids attend children’s church during the service – it will help you to keep a good perspective and motivate you to get so much more out of the whole church event, not just your kids – but you too.