Why We Take Our Kids to Church

Easy Like Sunday Morning, Only Not

People always refer to the Lionel Richie lyrics “easy like Sunday morning,” only I can’t help but think that Sunday morning isn’t easy at all.

During church this morning, and even after church this morning, I sit and ask myself why we take our kids to church? It certainly isn’t an easy task. It definitely leaves me frustrated, and it may be paranoia, but I feel like everyone is looking at me and wondering why I can’t control my kids. To top it off, I usually don’t leave feeling like I’ve heard the message for the day. Instead of listening, I’m fetching snacks, crayons, and sippy cups. Instead of praying, I am juggling kids between arms, saying “shh, be quiet” and trying to keep said kids from tearing up the hymnals. Instead of joining in fellowship with our church members, I’m counting down how many songs we have left until mass is over. And let’s not even discuss all of the preparation it took to get to church in the first place and how we are always running out the door.

Needless to say, all of this has me contemplating why we go through the same routine of taking our kids to church every Sunday morning when it leaves me asking for Jesus and wine, when I should have gotten both of those things at church. Joking about the wine at church, people. I’m fully aware that’s not the purpose of the wine at church.

Let’s Get it Over With

We either go to 7:30 mass or 9:00 mass on Sunday mornings. I’m not going to lie and say we don’t sometimes enjoy that 7:30 AM mass because it allows us to go ahead and get it over with. Terrible, right? But it’s true because we know the ordeal that it is to take two toddlers to church. Let’s not even discuss that family that has seven kids under the age of about 12 who all sit so perfectly quiet like little angels from heaven. I NEED their secret.

Our kids usually wake up pretty early, so if we go to 7:30 mass, that means we are home around 8:45, and we have the morning to play, and the boys seemingly do a little better at that time of day. If we wait and go to 9:00 mass, the boys usually end up hangry and tired, and we usually end up alternating kids in the cry room or the atrium, or when it’s really bad like today, we end up outside because even the other people in the atrium and cry room with their kids are looking at your kid.

Expectations

Chad and I both come from devout Catholic families. We both attended Catholic school, and I taught at a Catholic school. There were certain behaviors that were expected of us growing up, and in return, we have those expectations for our kids. That seems to make church even more difficult sometimes. We have to remind ourselves that they are only two and a half and sixteen months, however, there’s a fine line with saying that. At what point do you stop saying, “They’re only ____.”

A couple of weeks ago, we were both standing in the atrium with both kids, so yeah, they were both acting up, and he looked at me and said, “Do you think we expect too much out of them?” and I answered, “Yes, probably so.” But truth be told, I’m ok with that. I want to have high expectations for our kids in every aspect of life. I expect them to behave in church, I expect them to behave at school, I expect them to be kind and friendly with good manners. Those expectations will continue and only be met with more and higher expectations as they grow older. I will expect them to do chores, I will expect them to do well in school, I will expect them to work hard at everything they do. Because if you don’t have high expectations for your kids, they will never meet them, and they will never reach their fullest potential.

So Why Do We Take Them To Church

So, that brings me back to my original question, why do we go through the trouble of taking them to church when it is anything but easy? I’m not going to lie, I had to sit and think about this. I had to ask this question to Chad. He always seems to have better answers to questions like that than I do. Thankfully today, our answers pretty much lined up together.

Here is the list of reasons we came up with as to why we take our kids to church:

  1. First and foremost, we take our kids to church for the obvious reason – to know God and to learn to praise, worship, and celebrate Him. We pray with our kids at home, they know about God and Jesus, we read Bible stories with them; however, they need an understanding of God’s house, the sacraments we celebrate within the Church, and our church family that joins together with us in a weekly celebration of our Lord. They need to learn about the Sabbath and how to keep it holy. We want our children to grow up in the Catholic faith as we did, and to do that they must be present. The only way they can truly learn about these things is by taking them to church and showing them exactly what it means to be present.
  2. Simple, it goes back to expectations. If we take them now, they will know what behavior is expected in church as they get older. It is a little more difficult with our sixteen month old, as he’s too young to really understand why he’s being taken out, but we can already tell that our two year old is starting to figure it out and starting to behave better overall. Not only is he already learning how to behave, but he is also learning about the liturgy. He already dips his hand in the Holy Water and does the sign of the cross, he already shows us his prayer hands, he already does the sign of peace, and he already repeats things the priest says. Imagine if we took them to church for the first time at five. Sure, they would understand you telling them to sit there quietly, but they would be asking a million questions because the whole concept would be foreign to them. Hopefully by five, we have children that are taking part in the service and asking about the meaning behind the different parts of the liturgy because they will already know how to act in church.
  3. If we don’t take our kids to church, what will happen to the church? Think about that for a minute. What would happen to the future generations of the church if no one takes their kids? There are so many answers to that question, and none of the answers are good ones.
  4. We want our children to grow up with a faith community just as we want a faith community for ourselves. A community they can have that supports them in all aspects and helps them to grow in their faith like we need a community to support us. We want to see others bringing their kids to church too. We want to support others by saying, “Hey, we get it. It’s hard. I see you battling your kids like me. Let’s do this together. Let’s raise our kids to show each other the same support and love for their faith that we are showing each other.” How comforting is it when you see another parent battling their child look at you with that face that says I get it! The struggle is real! It is beyond comforting for me because I’m reminded I am no alone. I am part of a community of believers.

Our Desire

I’m sure if I sat longer and contemplated, which I’m sure I will do later, I could think of several more reasons as to why we take our kids to church. Regardless of the exhaustion and battles that comes with bringing our children to church each week, we will continue to do it. We will continue to do it because we are raising kids that we hope not just know who God is, but have a true understanding of how much He loves them and how much he desires a relationship with each of them. We want them to be true examples of showing others Christ like love and forgiveness. What better way to learn that than in His house with fellow believers?

Color Activities

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Teaching at Home

I like to think I am teaching my kids things while I’m staying at home with them. Sometimes I do a good job at this, and some days, Mickey Mouse, Zooptopia, and “independent play” take up our time. We all need days to relax, right?

James has pretty much mastered his colors with the occasional mix-up between red and green. I’m pretty sure my grandfather that was color blind mixed up red and green too, but we just won’t worry about that right now.

Being a “Fun Mom”

I see all of these, what I consider “fun moms,” doing fun, messy things with their kids, and I think, “Wow! They’re such a better mom than I am. I would never let my kid do that because I don’t want to have to clean up the mess.” So, against my better judgement, I tried to do a couple of “fun mom” activities, and let’s just say I was quickly reminded that I’m just not a “fun mom,” and I’ll have to be ok with that. The levels of Jesus and wine that were needed after our first two color activities were through the roof. Needless to say, I opted for a low-key, no-mess third color activity. I will say, the boys loved all three activities, which may make me consider doing them again should I have some soothing worship music on and a bottle of Moscato next to me.

Color Activities

  1. Bath Time Painting

    First, let me say that this makes a HUGE mess, yet I have done it more than once because the boys like it so much. The positive: it is contained to the bath tub, which is semi-easy to clean up. I would make sure to do this activity right before bath time, as if your kids decide to paint their entire body’s head to toe like mine did, they’ll need a bath promptly after.I have read in the past that people have mixed food coloring with shaving cream and let their kids paint in the bath tub. Sounds like a great idea unless you have a 16 month old like me that eats EVERYTHING. I certainly didn’t want him eating shaving cream, so I tried to think of something else with a similar consistency but was also edible, so I quickly came up with whipped cream. Maybe not the healthiest choice, however, it gets the job done.

    I took a muffin tin and put whipped cream in each muffin section. I would recommend using a large muffin tin sheet (12 sections) if you have one, as the paint will go quickly! I had one with 12 sections, so that is what I used. I put a few drops of food coloring into each section of whipped cream and stirred it in.

    Before I let the boys paint in the tub, I made James name the colors, and I would ask him throughout the painting session which colors he was using… until they all became mixed together and became a very ugly orange/brown color combo. Lots of fun, but lots of cleaning up!







  2. Color Sorting with BlocksLet me preface this one by saying I think I made this one more of a mess than it had to be. Weston was napping, and I like to use what I have at home for activities, and what I had was corn meal. Bad choice. dumb choice. Something like sand or uncooked rice would work much better, be a little less messy, and wouldn’t get in your toddler’s eyes like corn meal. Duh.I took a plastic tub I had and filled it with our beloved Mega Bloks. These blocks are great for so many things! Once I put different colored blocks in the tub, I covered them up with the corn meal. This is where next time, I would cover them with sand or uncooked rice. Although it would take a lot of rice I suppose. Anyone have another suggestion?

    Once the blocks were completely covered, I took James outside. Outside is key to make sure you don’t have the mess inside. He  immediately started digging through the tub to find the colored blocks. Every little boy’s dream. He seriously loved doing this!

    When he would pull a block out, he had to tell me the color of the block, and then he had to place the block on the matching color of construction paper that was on the ground. Eventually, he sorted through all of the blocks and matched them each with their corresponding color. When he was finished coloring, I gave him some measuring cups and funnels to play with in the corn meal for a bit. He did a great job, and it was fun, but cleaning up the corn meal that blew everywhere was not.

    Added tip: Do not do this activity on a windy day. Whatever you choose to cover the blocks with will blow everywhere, as will the construction paper you’re using to match the blocks to. Next time, I will know this. Hey, you live and you learn.








  3. Beach Ball ColorsAfter trying the first two activities, I needed something simple and mess-free. My boys LOVE any activity that includes a ball to play with, so the beach balls were a hit. I had two extra beach balls lying around from James’ 2nd birthday party, so I blew them both up. It was important that I had two because they must each have one, or WWIII is going to break out.I started by making James point to each color on the beach ball and name it, which he could do successfully. We then simply would throw the ball back and forth and say, “I spy _____,” and name/point to the color we saw. After a few rounds of this game, I would pick a color on the beach ball, he would name it, and then I would make him find an object in the house that was the same color.

    The best part: the beach balls: they are providing lots of entertainment beyond the color games!

Overall

Overall, each activity was fun, kept the boys entertained, and as much of a mess they made, I would do them again just because the boys were happy, and I do feel like colors were practiced/reinforced. I guess maybe I have fleeting moments where I can call myself a “fun mom.” Enjoy, and be sure to share any color activities you are doing with your little ones!

I Dropped My Son. On His Head.

Parenting Fail

Latest Parenting Fail: I forgot to mention in my last post that I straight up dropped my child. In a gas station parking lot. On his head. People saw it happen. I hid with him in the front seat.

The Story

The story goes something like this:

We were traveling to the beach and about 45 minutes into the drive, Weston had a dirty diaper. Of course he did. Nothing can be too easy around here. Anyways, instead of putting shoes on both kids and towing them into the gas station bathroom by myself, (Chad wasn’t going to the beach for a couple of more days), I had the bright idea to change him in the front seat of the car. That way, I could leave James strapped into his carseat, and I wouldn’t have to put anyone’s shoes on. Great plan! Only, it wasn’t.

Fast forward. I get his diaper changed, mental note to self, he is way too big to change him in the front seat of the car anymore. If you don’t know our angel baby 16 month old, he is a little on the bigger side. I say that with all the love in the world.

After having a child that is not even in the first percentile for weight, I gladly welcome our 99th percentile baby. Our two year old has been stuck, prodded, tested, seen more than a handful of specialists, and put on several special “diet” plans because he can’t gain weight (another post for another time), so I’m over the moon about having a chunky monkey!

He looks like a baby and acts like a baby, but 2T clothes are almost too small for him. He weighs almost 30 pounds, and he has the juiciest thighs with a plump little bottom. I tell you all of this so you can visualize the event that led up to me dropping him.

The Event Itself

So, the diaper is changed, and we’re pulling up our 2T shorts. “Pulling up his shorts” is really more of a “shake him into his shorts.” Remember those juicy thighs I was telling you about? Yeah. So, I’m shaking. He’s laughing. He decides to lean forward while I’m shaking, which results in him falling on the concrete head first. The laughing quickly turned to crying. Oh. My. Gosh. I just dropped my baby, on his head, on the concrete.

Shrieks. Shrills. Hysterics. Of course there was a car right there with a man in the front seat that I KNOW had to have seen the whole thing play out, so I quickly scoop him up, rock him in the front seat, repetitively say I’m so sorry, and hide until that car leaves the gas station. Talk about feeling like the worst mother in the world. I was shocked that man didn’t call Child Protective Services on me. I’m not going to lie, I straight up would’ve been questioning some moms ability had I seen her do what I did.

Catholic Conscience

Remember that time I wrote about that Catholic conscience of mine? Well, it was fully active after this event. When I was pulling out of the gas station, I saw a cop car with the passenger door open. It crossed my mind that they might stop me to make sure I was a suitable parent and that my child was ok. Needless to say, I think that was all a little paranoia, and the cops really didn’t know anything about the incident.

Of course my mom called and I had to tell her what I did. Then, I had to call Chad and tell him I dropped our perfect, little baby because well, Catholic conscience. The conversation went something like this:

Me: I just feel like I need to tell you that I just dropped Weston, and he hit his head. He’s ok, but I would feel guilty if I didn’t tell you.

Chad: Laughs a little. Well, ok, you didn’t have to tell me that. Are you ok?

Me: Yes, I’m fine. I just feel like the worst mother in the world and am waiting on CPS to contact me. And yes, I had to tell you because when you see him in a couple of days you’ll see the big bruise and knot on his forehead and ask me what happened.

Chad: I think he’s going to be fine. You’re not the worst mother in the world. You’re a great mother. It happens. Now when he’s a teenager and doing something stupid I can tell him well son, your mother dropped you on your head as a child.

Me: That’s not funny.

Thank God for an understanding and forgiving husband.

For the next two hours, I constantly looked in the rearview mirror to check on him and make sure he hadn’t fallen asleep because that’s the one time I would have woken a sleeping baby!

Feeling Better About your Parenting?

Feel better about your parenting skills now? Good. That was part of the purpose. We all fail. Some (me) more than others, but fiercely love them, and all will be well.

Five Little Monkey’s Jumping on the Bed

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The Day From You Know Where

After about a month long hiatus, I figured it was about time I get back to blogging. We have had a fun-filled month with family and friends visiting, and then we capped it off with an Easter trip to the beach with more family. Fun, fun times, with a few glasses of wine, and many a times of me asking Jesus to just help me make it one. more. minute.

Yesterday was the day from you know where. We had to literally take it one minute at a time yesterday on our way back from the beach. It quickly, or I should say slowly, turned into a 10 and a half hour drive with two not so happy toddlers. Lots of crying. Lots of whining. Lots of crying. Lots of screaming. Lots of tantrums. Did I say lots of crying? I had to take a minute to pray a few times to ask for help to not completely and utterly lose it on my children.

Don’t worry, we finally made it home, and would you like to know what happened next? Chad went to pick up our bulldog from the vet, so I was trying to be helpful and unload the car while he was gone. Well don’t you know our sweet, little 16 month old decided to lock himself in the house. Yep, that meant James and I were locked out. My keys and phone were inside. Thankful for a nice neighbor that let me use her phone, and Chad was home shortly after to let me reunite with that sweet baby. I was pretty sure he was inside eating dog food, however, instead, he just completely destroyed the laundry room with emptied puzzles, straws, and flash cards. On the positive side of that, I was thankful that was all he got into. He naturally wanted nothing to do with me and clung to Chad. You know, I just have to maintain that Mom of the Year status.

If I wouldn’t have had a headache from that fiasco of a day, I would have had one, large glass of wine, but instead, I thanked God the day was finally over and went to bed.

I Have My Own Monkey’s

Needless to say, I feel qualified to write a post on five little monkey’s because I have two monkey’s in my house every day. Wild monkeys at that.

Today, we are trying to get back into somewhat of a routine which means story time, music time, free play, and lots of timeout sessions. During our read aloud this morning, I read two different versions of the popular story, Five Little Monkey’s Jumping on the Bed. We read this book and this book. Since teaching, I’ve always loved reading different versions of the same story. It is a great way to working on comparing and contrasting. Obviously, my kids are too young for that skill, but we still have fun reading the similar stories.

Activities Related to the Story

This book has a lot of different activities/skills you can do with your kids of various ages. As said before, with your older ones, you can work on comparing and contrasting if you read different versions of the book. For your little ones, this is a great book to practice counting and repetition. This is a repetitive story, which simply means the same phrase is repeated throughout the story. See if your little one catches on to the phrase and can repeat it each time with you. Also, it was a good book to practice body parts with my 16 month old. Every time we read “bumped his head,” we would practice patting our head to reinforce this body part we have been learning.

Once we read the story, I turned on our Apple TV and clicked on YouTube, which I love so much, and searched for, “Five Little Monkey’s Jumping on the Bed”. Several songs/videos popped up, so just choose one you like best. My boys like this one, and I know it is appropriate which can sometimes be a concern on YouTube. Not only did we sing and dance which are great Arts to incorporate into a lesson, but we also acted this story out using our monkey craft, which I will explain next!

Monkey Craft

Let me preface this craft by saying, under no circumstance should you tell your child what you’re preparing for. AKA, don’t tell them you’re making a monkey. They’ll just sit there and say, “I want monkey! I want monkey!” until you’re ready for them to do the craft. Also, for the love of God, just prepare this craft when they are nowhere around – nap time, bed time, whatever works for you. This will take care of the previous issue as well. It does take a few minutes to prepare, so if your kids are anything like mine, they will be torturing one another, going through all of your cabinets, and making you stop to put them in timeout while you’re trying to get everything ready. Which in turn, makes it an even longer process. So take my advice, and prepare ahead of time.

Materials:

Construction Paper 
Scissors
Glue
Cardstock
Popsicle Stick (I used plastic forks)
Tape (I used painter’s tape)
Bandaids

Directions:

I used this picture as my monkey inspiration as far as how to draw it out.

  1. Get two pieces of different colored construction paper. Preferably a dark brown and a light brown. I used a brown and a tannish, yellow color. You need two different tones to complete the monkey’s face.
  2. On the darker brown, draw a similar shaped monkey face as pictured below, and cut it out. (Ignore the poor lighting. It looks orangish, but it is just a standard brown.)

3. Using the lighter color of construction paper, draw the inside of the monkey’s face as pictured below, and cut it out. Once it is cut out, draw two eyes as seen blow, and cut them out as well. The monkey will end up being a mask.

4. Also with the lighter colored construction paper, cut out two monkey ears as pictured below.

5. Once all pieces are cut out, you will want to start gluing the monkey face together. Now, since my boys easily destroy all crafts we make, I decided to glue the face onto card stock to make it less flimsy, and harder to destroy. Stay posted to see how long card stock takes to disassemble. With that being said, once the darker/larger part of the monkey face was glued onto card stock, I again had to cut out the monkey’s eyes to get the mask effect. See pictures below to see how I glued the face together.

6. Next, take a black sharpie and draw the monkey’s features on the face and ears to make it pop.

7. Turn the monkey face over and tape or glue a popsicle stick to the back of the face in order to make the mask. I did not have popsicle sticks, so I used a plastic fork. I used painter’s tape instead of regular tape to help enforce it a little more. Elmer’s glue probably won’t hold the stick on very well, but if you have a hot glue gun, that would work well and definitely be harder to take off.

8. Then, it’s time for the fun part for the kiddos. My son loves a bandaid, and I’m convinced after teaching, all kids do. And, they think it fixes everything. This is when I started asking James some comprehension questions from the story. It’s never too early to work on comprehension! Definitely a much needed skill for your child to learn. We talked about what happened to the monkey and that he got a boo boo. We talked about where his boo boo was and how we could fix it. He put two bandaids on the monkeys’ head as pictured below.

Disclaimer: Before James and I made his mask, I made one for my 16 month old, as I knew he couldn’t do the craft, but he could play with the mask and do the other activities with us. For his monkey, I used standard colored bandaids, and you can see in the picture below they kind of blended in with the monkeys’ face. So for James’ monkey, we used some Lion King bandaids I had, and they popped a little better.

9. Last, sing the song and act out the story with your child as they use their fun, new mask!