These 5 tips to survive church with a spirited toddler will definitely help you when you wonder if it is even worth it to go to church with your young child.
Survive Church With A Spirited Toddler
The two most precious words the Mom of an active toddler can hear on Sunday morning are ‘staffed nursery.’
This wonderful phrase can only be outdone by the amazingly beautiful sound of ‘amen.’
Amen. As in, it is finished. The last word of worship service has been uttered and you Mom, have survived another week.
Amen. Open the floodgates and let that ball of energy loose!
But what if your church doesn’t have a staffed nursery? What if you have a glass-enclosed nerve center affectionately called, the ‘training room?’ What if your spirited toddler is a primary disruptor of peace during worship services?
5 Proven Tips To Survive Church With A Spirited Toddler
Signs Your Toddler Will be a Spitfire at Church:
- She is the one banging on the glass door and screaming as loud as she can.. just for fun.
- He is the one running non-stop around the auditorium.. darting in and out of the pews, perilously close to running/falling down the stairs.
- As soon as it is quiet… you know, as soon as someone starts to do something serious– like pray– your spitfire decides it is their turn to perform. I mean, that is what this church thing is all about, right? Anyway, it is no fun to start screaming, or singing, or talking about their poo during the noisy parts of church. Nah, your little spitfire wants an audience. Bonus points if they loudly say goodbye to everyone when you take them out of worship service.
If you have a spirited kiddo then every worship service is a marathon that leaves you weary, exhausted, and anything but spiritually encouraged.
If your child is a firecracker, many well-meaning Moms will encourage you by saying that “it is just a phase,” or “just wait and see… before you know it, this will all be behind you.” You might give them a weak smile but on the inside you will be screaming, “Take her!” “Take her now!” “Just for 5 minutes.” “I just want an adult conversation for 5 minutes.”
Of course these Moms are right. For the most part that crazy phase of toddlerhood will come to a rather abrupt end. Before you know it, you will get to actually enjoy worship service again.
I know how you feel because I was there too.
And I would like to encourage you now, just like the Moms at my church had encouraged me. You can do this. It is just a phase and it will not last forever. Don’t give up. What you are doing is eternally important. Don’t think for a second that you are not making a huge difference in your child’s life.
Just like with the parable of the sower.. you are sowing the seed. The plant is not going to grow right away though. It takes time… but the training you are doing is not falling on deaf (or rather hyperactive) ears. Your toddler will learn.
It does help to have a few ‘tricks’ up your sleeve though, right? Ultimately, you have to pick activities that will suit the unique interests and personality of your child. However, the strategies listed below worked, and continue to work for my daughter. Seriously, if these strategies work for my fireball of energy, I can’t imagine they would not work for you too!
1. Bring More Activities Than You Think You Will Need
I made the mistake on numerous occasions of not packing enough toys, snacks, boogie wipes, etc… If you don’t get to them all, that is ok. Just come prepared!
2. Ziploc Bags Are Your Best Friend
I have repackaged many of our ‘church toys’ and put all the little parts in Ziploc bags. This keeps things contained and makes your diaper bag or backpack modular and way more organized. Also, I can’t tell you the number of times my daughter had no interest in a particular toy, but she loved taking it out of the bag and then putting it back in.
3. Use Special Church-Only Toys
Many Moms gave me this advice but it is great advice, so I will repeat it here: whatever you choose for your church toys, make them special toys that you toddler really likes, but only let them play with them on Sunday during worship service. That way it is a treat… and they associate worship service with something fun.
4. Adjust Your Expectations
A 1-year old, who just learned how to walk, your child is not going to sit still for a 1 1/2 hour worship service. That just isn’t going to happen. When we finally threw in the towel and just immediately went to the ‘training’ room, we started a phased approach to worship service training.
- Phase One: Let your toddler run free, as long as they are not sticking their fingers in the electrical sockets. Seriously, the room is for families with loud kids. Don’t fight it. You will lose (says the Mom who multiple times held a screaming 1 year old on her lap for 20+ minutes straight just to prove a point).
- Phase Two: If there are two of you (Mom and Dad) position yourselves so that your toddler has some room to wander but is basically confined to a space equivalent to about three chairs between you. If you are going solo, I would seriously consider recruiting a friend to help with this. Don’t worry about how loud your toddler is being.. yet.
- Phase Three: Gradually decrease the roaming space until there is just one chair’s worth of space between the two of you. Congrats, you have now successfully trained your spitfire toddler to operate within a limited space for an extended period of time!
- Phase Four: Now you start working on the volume. Practice whispering ‘like a church mouse.’ Correct your toddler when they talk loudly or have an outburst. Get them involved as much as possible in the singing and praying parts of the worship service. If you are practicing praying at home, this will be a lot easier.
- Phase Five: Congrats! You are now ready to go back to your regularly scheduled worship service
5. Great Church Toy Recomendations
So, what kind of toys and activities are great quiet toys for church? These are the ones we either have used, or continue to use. I hope this list is helpful to you!