We recently started bringing all four children into the worship service with us on Sunday mornings. For the longest time, we only brought two and left the other two in the nursery.
Technically, the toddler nursery at our church is only for kids up to age 2, but they kindly let us continue to leave our kids there even after their second birthday...WAY after! However, as their third birthday began to draw closer, I knew we had to stop. It just wasn't fair to the toddlers who were of the right age for the nursery to be in there with my big 3-year-olds! No one ever said a thing to us about it, but my conscience just wouldn't let it continue.
So we bit the bullet and went to church with all four kids. The first Sunday, we stayed for the entire service, and it was awful! I'm sure it seemed much worse to me and Jim than it did to anyone around us. It's always worse to the parents, no matter how many kids you have! The worst part of all was that it ended badly. The memory we carried with us as we fled the building as soon as the service was over was that of four simultaneous meltdowns because they couldn't have the same toy that the little girl in front of us had. It was an unfortunate way to end the morning. The whole service wasn't as bad as that, but that was the lingering memory.
After that, my friend Betsy gave me the idea to back off a little and work our way up to staying the whole service, so the last two Sundays, we have only stayed through the end of the Lord's Supper. After the contribution, everyone stands up to sing, and we head for the door.
It's been a little better. The shortened time is easier for the kids to handle, and therefore easier on us too. It's just so hard to keep four 3-year-olds entertained and moderately quiet for any length of time, much less an entire church service. And at the end, Jim and I have spent most of it either shoving anything at them that we think will keep them happy and quiet or whispering angrily at them to hush. We're mad at them and irritated at each other. It's not a pleasant experience for us or for them, and that makes us sad because that isn't what a worship service should be about.
4 months ago