Monday, May 2, 2011

Living the Gospel in Latter-Days: An Hour Once a Week

A few weeks ago, Tannie did a post about when you allow your child to start partaking of the sacrament. I would like to continue on the same vein today with a question of what (else) your child does during sacrament meeting...

Here is a taste of what our family has experienced in the last few Sundays:

Goldfish smashed all over the bench, carpet, and everyone's clothes

Crayons away from the provided paper and into the hymnbook

One child climbing over the bench to sit with the family behind while the other climbs under the bench to head straight for the stand

Screams of "Let Go!" as if sitting still for a prayer is the worst form of torture

...You get the idea. I'm sure you all have many of your own stories you could add! While this is certainly not a new topic, it bears sharing our ideas here on this blog for the benefit of all. So...

What tips and tricks do you have for helping your child(ren) behave reverently during Sacrament meeting?

What kind of toys do you bring for entertainment? How many? What do you avoid?

Food? Do you bring snacks? What kinds?

What is your policy on taking kids out into the hall? What do you do when you're out?

Things get more complicated with each child that is added to your do you deal with the differences in ages between your children?

And this may be asking too much, but how do you maintain the Spirit of the meeting and pay attention to the talks while taking care of your children?



Shantel said...

Since I have not conquered dealing with children during Sacrament meeting, I don't have a whole lot of advice, but wanted to share a lesson I learned.
A few weeks after we moved into our current ward we found out that our Stake President had asked that there be NO food or drink inside the chapel. At first I was quite irritated, especially considering that we survived Sacrament meeting by giving snack and drinks. For a few following weeks I ignored the request and kept bringing treats. But after some time thinking about what it means to sustain my leaders I decided that I had to honor the request if I were to be the kind of member of the church I desired.
As time has passed I have been so grateful I have obeyed. Since food was no longer an option, I had to truly teach my son about reverence and how to sit and hold still. We talk about how the church building is important and that when we bring food into the chapel that it makes a mess of the Lord's house. We are still FAR from perfect when it comes to Sacrament meeting reverence, but the lessons we have learned from being obedient have truly blessed our family!
Sorry so long!

Tannie Datwyler said...

I like what you said Shantel about listening to your leader's counsel.

I think it's important to remember that we are all different and have our own opinions on how to deal with these things - and that doesn't make any of us wrong! But here is what works for us. I'll try to just answer Laura's questions.

For the first question - I'd say one trick is to have some FHE lessons on it. And do it again, and again and again, because it takes a while for little ones to catch on.

Another tip is to separate your kids if you can. Keep your youngest children away from each other. My husband and I sit by each other with a kid on the other side of us. That way they aren't tempted to play and be noisy. This works pretty well with 2.... now that we have 3 I'm not sure what we'll do when my baby is older.

What types of entertainment do we bring? For a YOUNG baby or toddler I pretty much say anything goes. I let them play with toys or color or read books. When my child is about 3 things change. At least that is what we did with our first little girl. When she turned 3 we started only letting her do very quiet activities. She can color in a coloring book or draw (we even try to find Sabbath related coloring books), she can look at picture books that relate to the Savior, or she can do some file folder games that are Sabbath related (ask if you don't know what they are) and that is about it. My son will be 3 this fall and I intend to start the same with him then.

We do bring a snack. My children are accostomed to having a snack around 10:00 at our home, and that is right at the end of sacrament meeting - so I allow it. It is usually just dry cereal and that is relatively crumb free and doesn't make a mess. I'm not sure I like this though, I think I might put an end to it when my son turns 3. My daughter is CERTAINLY old enough to do without, but because he gets some it's hard to say no to her. We also bring sippies with only water in them. I even bring water for myself to church and I don't think there is anything wrong with getting a quick drink of water. It's the snacks that I'm not sure about.

I take my kids into the hall when they are fussy but they do not get down. It doesn't matter the age. From 2 months, to 6 months, to 18 months (which is the nightmare age I swear) to 3... you get the point. I never let them play out there - though it might be tempting sometimes. I wait until the child is calm enough to return and that way he/she is motivated to behave because sacrament meeting is where the toys are (or drawing materials if it's an older child). I can't even remember the last time we had to take my son or daughter out in the middle of sacrament meeting - they've simply learned that it's worth it to be good. My baby is another story. HEHEHE, you can't teach that to a 2 month old.

I like the question of dealing with age differences. When my daughter was 3 we just explained to her that she is a big girl and she didn't need to play with toys but that her brother was still a baby and so he could play. She was totally fine with it, especially since we still gave her the option of coloring or drawing quietly.

As for the last question... HAHAHAHA. I am not sure if that ever happens. It's so hard to feel the spirit myself while I'm playing referee. I just try my best to listen out of the side of my ear. :) There's really nothing else I can do, and I think Heavenly Father understands.

Anonymous said...

My kids are motivated to stay reverent during the announcements and sacrament, because they will get to read/look at books when sacrament is over. It's just routine. Every week (almost) they ask for books before the sacrament is over, but I tell them the same thing every week. I'm waiting to see if they can sit still and be reverent. Everyone needs to be reverent during the sacrament. They settle down, and then during the talks they look at books, usually independently. I try to find really fun ones like "First Look and Finds," Roger Priddy lift the flap or turn the wheel, etc. so that they can do it by themselves quietly. I rotate the books every week so it's a surprise. They are special books that aren't on their bookshelves for regular reading. They aren't church related, unfortunately, but luckily they are interesting to the children so I can listen to the speakers. They will get lessons in primary and nursery that are more age appropriate anyways.

I don't do snacks.

The children are 4 and 2 1/2, but I've always maintained these rules. It's really tough in that intermediate toddler age after 12 months but before nursery! But the routine is the routine and I think it's worth it. This way the rules apply to all the children all the time. It think once they can read more, I'll substitute Friend magazines. By the time they are 8, I think I'll start eliminating "entertainment" altogether and just expect them to listen as they do in school. They'll be baptized members by that age as well.

It's rare to have to take them out. They are trying to be reverent for books. Occasionally they need redirection if they both want the same book, but that's just the usual refereeing. I can't really remember the last time I took a child out.