Church doors are starting to open up after being shut down for the COVID-19 crisis. However, many are choosing to forgo childcare in an effort to promote social distancing. I don’t know if you know this, but 3 year-olds are awful at social distancing. So toddlers are going to be in the big people service! For some people, this is no big deal. Lots of churches don’t have children’s services for various reasons, so they’ll be going back to business as usual. However, some of us are losing our minds a bit trying to figure out what church might look like with a couple of littles sitting next to us. So, friends I’ve put together the Dos and Donts of having your toddler in the big service.
Do let your child dance and sing during worship
Let your little one participate! If there is a part of the big people service littles can get into, it’s the music. Let them dance. Let them sing. Jesus said “Let the little children come, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14). Jesus didn’t say make your children sit quietly, make sure they don’t squirm. He said let them come. This is the kingdom.
Have you ever watched a toddler sing and dance. They don’t care who’s watching. They dance what’s in their hearts. They sing freely, because the know they are loved. The are loved and have no shame. Some make the argument that children need to be in the worship service so they can see how to worship, and see the adults in their life praising Jesus. And though I think there is truth in that, I think we adults also benefit, because we are given a glimpse of the Kingdom.
Don’t listen to the critics
There is always going to be that one person that is ready to judge. Like the disciples that tried to shoo the children away, so there are people who are going to judge you for your children being too loud. They’ll judge you for your kid being too quiet. If you feed your child some M&M’s to keep them quiet. If you finally just give up and give your child a screen to make it through…there will be someone there with judgy scowl. But here’s the deal. You are doing the best that you can right now. And you know what? When Jesus said “let the children come,” yes, he was talking to the disciples and the children. But he was also talking to those tired toddler moms. The ones who brought the children to be blessed. When Jesus said “Let the children come,” he was making room for littles and tired mamas. There’s room for you. Don’t forget, Jesus said you get to be here.
Do pack a busy bag
Let’s be honest, toddlers are wiggly, and the sermon probably isn’t going to capture their attention. So packing a busy bag can be a life saver. You can find a list of my favorite church busy bag fillers here:
Don’t shame another mom
This should go without saying, but don’t shame other moms. Like we talked about above, nobody likes to be judged. We are all doing the best we can with our individual and unique kids. We’re all going to do things a little differently. Let’s have grace with one another, and choose to cheer one another on in this journey.
Do find friends
Find other toddler moms and figure out ways to support one another. It may be taking kids out of the service at the same time so you don’t have to do church alone, or simply swamping busy bag supplies.
Look for other people at church that give you life, and sit near them. Find people that will smile when your kids get a little too loud, because they get. It makes any toddler crazy that happens a little easier.
And if you see a new mom, reach out. It’s easy to assume that we all have our friend groups, but that’s not always the case. Be a friend, and invite others in.
Don’t be afraid to do what you need
Having littles in the adult service can feel crazy, especially when it’s something new. If you need to sit in the front so your child can see, do it. If you need to sit in the back so you can make a quick escape, do it. If you need to feed your little m&m’s to make it through, you do you. If your kids adjust great to this new way of doing church, you’re a good mom. If they ride the struggle bus, you’re still a good mom. If you feel the need to pull back and do online service a little longer, that’s still ok! Remember, Jesus made room for you. You do what you need to do. You know your family best.