I wish there was an exact answer on how to keep your kids fully entertained during mass when they are so young! But I will say there are tips and tricks that can help your little ones stay sane during church. Jeff and I were nervous about bringing Carter to Christmas Eve mass because our last church experience was REAL rough LOL. But I came fully prepared, (with a very heavy diaper bag full of reinforcements), that came to the rescue. Here are some tips below that helped us with Carter, and I hope you are able to use some of them too!
Tip #1: Embrace the random squeals and screams from them.
I’d be lying if I said Carter was completely silent the entire mass. He most definitely had his moments where he squealed! One particular moment was when he wanted to get out of the church pew and run around, but was stopped by daddy’s legs. That didn’t make him very happy… I think Jeff and I both realized that Carter is so young still, and that it’s okay if he has his moments where he wants everyone in the church to hear his voice. I think I would be more worried if Carter didn’t chit chat throughout mass! The fact that you made it to church and your little one is right there with you is a great accomplishment. I think as parents, sometimes we just want everything to be perfect and our children to behave exactly how they are supposed to. Well, Carter is a year and a half, and I think he behaved how any other year and a half year old would! We can be so hard on ourselves, but if we just embrace those moments and find those little tricks that work to keep them calm, it can be very beneficial.
Tip #2: Bring quiet toys and books.
Carter is really into cars right now. Earlier that day on Christmas Eve he was handed down Jeff’s old Hot Wheels cars, and he’s been inseparable from them since! Earlier in the day we snuck about five cars from the box into Carter’s diaper bag. This way if we had to bring them out in church they would seem new to him, #momhack! It totally worked. We brought out one car at a time and Carter sat on the floor for a little bit with them, while also along the church pew. I brought some small books for him to look at too, particularly his favorite Mickey Mouse books, but he wasn’t really into them that night. He was more into the books that were already in the pews!
Tip #3: Bring a few snacks.
This one was a HUGE help for us. Carter is a total foodie so I came prepared with Veggie Chips, Fig Bars, belVita crackers and apples. He didn’t eat much for lunch that day so I packed a little extra! I also had his water cup. Right after the first song he was starting to get antsy so I asked him if he wanted a snack and that helped keep him occupied for a solid five minutes. Which is a lot when it comes to church!
Tip #4: Try and explain what is going on throughout mass.
There were many times during mass where we were standing and I was holding Carter in my arms. I would say things to him like, “Now Father is going to go read us a story from the gospel!” I was whispering of course but still tried to sound exciting. Carter likes music and will normally dance a little when he hears a song so when I knew we would be singing for the Offertory, or at Communion, I’d let him know that, “We get to sing a song now!” I realize he is very young still, and might not remember what I had said, but he seemed a little more engaged a few different times when I would explain what was going on. Just a fun tip to try!
Tip #5: Sit near other families with kids.
This can be hit or miss. Carter loves other kids, and we were lucky that his little cousin Jaci was in the pew right in front of us during mass. At one point Carter even snuck into their pew to play quietly play with her for a little bit. It was super helpful! She even had a Mickey Mouse book that Carter loved to look at for quite some time. I can also see the issues with this, because sometimes if Carter sees another little guy doing something he’s not supposed to, he feels free to join in. But so far, when we have sat next to other kids during mass, it has been great for us!
Tip #6: Leave a little room in the church pew.
I don’t mean having a whole pew to yourself, but to try and find a seat with a little extra space for your little ones. This way they can walk back and forth a little bit to stretch those “leggies” as we call them. Carter was also able to sit on the floor for a little bit with his books and toys since we had the extra room. You’re in the same area for about an hour during mass, so that extra space can do wonders! Sitting near the end of the pew can also be super helpful too if you need a quick escape during mass.
Tip #7: Don’t worry about what other people are thinking.
I will fully admit how hard this is to do sometimes, but it does make a big difference. The first few times I took Carter to church when he was a baby, half of the time he slept in his car seat or in my arms the entire mass! Today it’s a different story, and yes I do have those moments when Carter does yell or get sassy and I start to think what others might be thinking. Once one negative thought runs through your mind, then they just can’t seem to stay away. Many of the people around you were most likely parents to young ones before, and they know exactly how you’re feeling. Yes, we get the occasional dirty look from someone when Carter is being a bit loud, but I try not to let it bother me. Most people around us when we have been at mass, have actually been helpful. In Ohio, I didn’t realize Carter’s shoe was missing during mass and the nice gentlemen behind us handed it back to me. He even said, “you’re doing great.” I probably could have cried in that moment to be honest. When you’re by yourself with your little ones, just trying to do your best, and people give you a compliment, it’s SUCH a good feeling. As parents, we need to lift each other up! I realize that Carter is only young once, and the fact that we were in church with him was all that mattered.
Don’t be so hard on yourselves as parents! I think it’s amazing if you are getting yourself and your kids to church when you can. I hope maybe one or two of these tips, or maybe all of them can help you the next time you bring your little ones to church. Check back again soon for the Next Play!
Lots of love and God Bless,