When Parenting in the Pew Feels Like Parenting in the Zoo

When Vera was a baby, I read the book Parenting in the Pew by Robbie Castleman.  You may recall how Vera started staying in the worship service with us when she turned three (read that post here for a refresher).  Jude has been in the service as well, since he usually has to nurse during that time.

My original post about Vera’s first time in the worship service may lead you to believe that having her in the service has been really easy.  While it has been easier than we anticipated, it’s still challenging (and kind of zoo-y) each Sunday in various ways!

Most Sundays necessitate a trip out to the hallway for a “talking-to” from Tad, and there are many moments when I am distracted from the sermon because I’m trying to keep Vera from crawling under the chairs, unpacking my purse, making faces at the people sitting behind us, or asking questions loudly.  Oh yeah, and I’m juggling an infant too!

There was one Sunday where Jude cried and I was stuck in the middle of the row and couldn’t get out.  There was a week where Vera decided that her legs didn’t work, so she laid on the ground for pretty much the whole service.  A few weeks ago, we all sat out in the hallway watching the video monitor of the sermon since everyone was quite “restless.”

I’ll admit, there are some Sundays where Tad and I realize we missed a major chunk of the sermon due to a little curly-headed distraction, but we wouldn’t trade our ability to take perfect notes for having our sweet Vera worshiping alongside us.  (And our church puts the sermon videos up online, which is perfect for playing catch-up later!)

Vera is learning so much by being in the worship service with us.  Even though she is just three, and she seems like she isn’t listening for most of it, she actually is picking up on so many things we don’t even realize!  She always perks up when she hears a Scripture passage she knows (such as “love your neighbor as yourself,” etc.), which tells us she is listening.  She even picks up on big concepts like the Trinity (“Mommy, he said ‘the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit!'”) that we have talked about at home in family devotions.

Vera is being exposed to Christian ordinances like communion and baptism at an early age.  She also loves singing the worship songs each Sunday (and throughout the week as well).

We are so grateful that Vera is learning about Jesus at a young age, both at home and in church.

Here are a few practical things we do:

-Vera has a small snack that she eats during the sermon time (like mini pretzels or goldfish crackers).
-We pack a small Bible for Vera, some crayons, and a little notebook.  She picks up a children’s bulletin that has a coloring sheet.  This is pretty much all she has to entertain herself during the service, other than the aforementioned snack.
-When Tad has to take Vera out, she knows that it isn’t to run around or play.  They either come right back into the service, or they sit in the hallway with Vera on her daddy’s lap.
-We expect Vera to stay between us in our row.  Usually I’m on the end and Tad is on the other side of Vera.  This helps keep her “contained.”
-We sit towards the back so we are less of a distraction.

We’re definitely all still growing in this … but we are thankful for the progress that is being made!  It’s a blessing to see Vera’s tender heart being drawn to things of God.

P.S. Cordelia is still in the childcare, but she’ll move to the main worship service with us when she’s ready. 

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  1. says

    I keep all 4 of our boy with me in service :) – we take up quiet a few seats. Which I love. My older 3 do fantastic. On occasion Owen can get a little cranky but over all that dude does amazing for his age. He probably does better than any of my others did at 3. I found when I started keeping my kids in worship that praising them did wonders. I would tell the boys things like “let see if you get any compliments in worship today!” – they would get super excited if they did and typically if they did I would reward them with some ice cream or something special. I still do that today :) – I think praising kids goes a long way. We also do the bags per kid thing. They are allowed one small toy, a lego man, a match box car… something tiny and that doesnt make noise. Silly Puddy btw is also great, keeps their hands busy and wont sitck to any ones hair or chairs :) – I only allow Owen to have a snack, typically his sippy of milk and raisins. The older 2 dont get anything like that now. Caleb typically brings notebook paper and coloring pencils – he is almost to the age tho that we are going to take that away too so he can take sermon notes.

    We make them stand when the word is read and when we sing. They do well with that and understand the “order of service”

    Reed right now is my only challenge. I think age 6mo-2 is the hardest :) – but there have been services I sit int here the entire time with no problems at all. Other sundays Reed wont sit and I have to wonder halls :) – which is ok. We also have an amazing CRY room in our church with recliners and a huge sound proof glass wall, so you can sit and watch the pastor live (not on a tv screen) while you nursed or let your cranky 17 mo old play.

    Parenting in the Pew is def a building process for mom and child 😉

  2. says

    Thank you so much for this! I have considered having our 2 year old in the service with us, but I don’t think she is quite ready for the whole thing yet (she does come in for the singing portion). It’s helpful to hear when and how you started!

  3. says

    This made me tear up as I know exactly what each of those situations feel like–except the legs not working, that’s a new one–very funny! Sundays are most exhausting for us with three little ones sitting in the worship service (Gideon is doing great now, Tirzah is mostly good but we’re still working on her and Chloe is full time training). Thankfully during our other two services we move up to Grandma’s row or I sit in the nursery with the two little ones so I can hear better. I don’t know how it’s going to go adding another one to the mix. :-) I guess by that time Tirzah will be trained??? We’ll see, it is wonderful to have them with us and learning though…keep up the good work you wonderful parents!!!

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