Y’all. I had a brainwave last night.
I’m on my fifth rodeo involving parenting a toddler in church. Rodeo, I say, because containing a toddler in the pew and riding a bucking bronco are pretty much the same thing sometimes. 😆
It’s not an easy task! Especially when the toddler is a boisterous, busy baby in love with his dad who he can see and hear, but not touch, for the 45 minutes to an hour that comes every Sunday right during morning naptime.
It’s a whole thing.
But I’m preaching to the choir here, I know! What I realized last night was that all my older kids (ages 4, 6, 9, and 11) sit perfectly fine each church service, and even participate (well, to varying extents depending on age and mood, let’s be honest). And I have no tricks to the whole thing.
I’ve tried myriad methods of “pew training”. Toys. No toys. Books and coloring sheets. Nothing but a hymnal and momma’s lap. Snacks, no snacks, snacks only during the sermon. Special church bags. Just a bulletin and pencil. Leaving during the sermon and prayers or sticking it out regardless of our noise level. Sitting in front. Sitting in back. Sitting in the balcony. Sitting on the floor. Having someone sit with us.
Different methods have worked with different kids at different ages. Only one thing has stayed consistent: we’re in church.
So, to the (actually very sweet) lady who informed me after a particularly difficult communion Sunday that “the devil is sure working on that baby.” It’s not the devil, it’s typical development working on this rambunctious 13 month old. Typical development and the Holy Spirit. Because my baptized baby of Christ is in church soaking up the Word, surrounded by fellow believers.
And, yes, causing a ruckus because he gets close enough to touch his dad at communion, but then has to walk back down the aisle without his favorite person in the world.
But we’re in church and the Holy Spirit is moving regardless of baby’s antics and right in the midst of my trying to keep our pew in some semblance of quit-ish order.
No matter how you’re approaching pew parenting. No matter how much of the service you hear. No matter if other parents look like they have more successful Sundays than you. No matter how your kids are sitting (or not sitting). You’re in church.
And, trust me, if you keep slogging it out each week, year after year, one Sunday you’ll be sitting in the pew and realize that your kids are actually sitting too. No matter what method you’ve used to get there.
You’re in church. That’s the important part.
So carry on, parents with busy toddlers in the pew. I’m right there with you and we’ll make it to the other side. Someday.
**I want to add that there are some precious kiddos who may never be able to physically or mentally sit through an entire church service. That’s okay, too! Thankfully how we sit at church doesn’t prevent the Holy Spirit working or keep Christ’s love at bay. ❤️