People have been telling me forever that my kids are well behaved at Mass. I’ll tell you the secret… It is really easy and takes no preparation. Most people aren’t willing to do it though. Are you ready?
Sit in the front pew. Not the second, not close to the front. The first row. Think about it. If you were 30 inches tall and you were standing behind a 6 foot man and a large lady, what would you see and think about at church? Rear ends! Even if you hold your kids up (which does help) they still are not seeing as high as you are and it is not practical to hold them the whole time. There are SO many distractions in a crowd. Up front what do you see? The candles, the priest, the bible, the bread and wine, the cross. Kids become engaged in the “play” of the Mass. Sitting up front helps even at a VERY young age- as soon as a baby has long range vision and continues through all of childhood. You can whisper in her ear about the candles, about Jesus, about the kids who are helping at Mass.
Of course, kids do make noise. Lots of it sometimes so, having a get-away plan is pretty necessary in the early ages. Sitting on the side helps.
Not only will your kids benefit but, once you start this as a habit, you will realize you your self are getting tons more out of Mass.
With babies and toddlers, having a bag ready to go full of good toys for church will save you some angst. Watch out for hard plastic or metal which can be banged noisily on the pew. Opting for special toys which echos the message of the gospel (loosely) helps to set the tone for Sunday. Try stuffed animal lambs, bible bored books, Christmas cards, holy cards, bible character figurines, rosaries, holy water bottles, religious picture books, Christmas nativity figurines. If your child puts everything in her mouth, purchase a small photo album and slide in a bunch of pictures of Jesus, the saints and his people. Although this won’t totally protect your pictures, it will keep your child from eating paper. You can cut these kind of pictures from nonprofit organization mailings, trifolds in the back of the church, religious calendars, Christmas cards or holy cards you purchase at a religious books store or online.
I’ve wondered for years how to figure out how many calories a day kids need and today I came across this ratio on SFGate.com:
If your child is within a healthy weight range, you can use his body weight to help estimate his calorie needs. According to Hasbro Children’s Hospital, infants need 41 to 55 calories per pound of body weight, 1- to 7-year-olds require 34 to 41 calories per pound, kids ages 7 to 12 need 27 to 34 calories per pound and pre-teens and teens ages 12 to 18 require 14 to 27 calories per pound of body weight each day.
Since we need nutrition rich calories for our bodies, why not for our souls too? How many Christ calories a day does a kid need?
Disclaimer- I know I’m not mainstream on this one. If I’m driving you crazy on this but other parts of this site are helpful, please let it slide.
As useful as technology is, using screens for kids under four is going to hurt more than it helps. Teaching reading, mathematics, science and other subjects can all be done very well in a more hands on, tactile and relational way without creating unhealthy synapse and changing the way the brain develops.