Excerpted from Chapter 7 of Mothering Many: Sanity-Saving Strategies from Moms of Four or More, by Marie K. MacPherson
In this book, 25 moms of 160+ children navigate 56 challenges that mothers frequently face: menu-planning, laundry, time-management, self-care, homeschooling, intimacy, home-devotions, and much more! Conceived by one perplexed mom and gestated over eight years, Mothering Many has finally been birthed through a labor of love by dozens of fellow Christian women. Literally written between nursing babies and wiping bottoms, this book offers hundreds of strategies, insights, and ideas for strengthening your home for the Lord. So, if you're too busy from the rigors of motherhood to brainstorm for improvement, crack open this book and let these moms troubleshoot for you!
In the following excerpts, you will gain ideas for guiding children at church and saying bedtime prayers.
How do you handle getting through church services or Bible study with many little ones?
- Everyone takes a Bible and notepaper and a pencil. The younger ones draw a picture of something the pastor says. The next older ones will write single words that the pastor says. The next older group will write full quotations from the pastor or Scripture references. The oldest will take full notes. This keeps everyone occupied and listening! Also, prayer! If a child is distracting to others, I take him or her out and handle the situation. This is my job, and I take it seriously when it comes to church.—Lissa
- Practice “sit-time” at home. Start with 10 minutes a day, where they can look at Bible story books, and then slowly add time. Praise and reward them. This is a skill they need to learn for many things in life. Start early on. They can look at books but they may not talk and they may not get off their chair.—Karina
- I don’t allow any toys or playthings. Only those who are able to read may get a bulletin or hymnal. Everyone is expected to stand and sit and pray with the congregation, and participate to the best of their ability. I’m pretty strict in church, but it has paid off. Anyone who acts up gets taken out and disciplined. Leaving the service is never pleasant for them. Since my husband is a pastor and I’m handling everyone by myself, it’s really important for them to know what’s expected and have me follow through.—Ann
- It all comes down to the tone that we’ve chosen for discipline in the household. My husband and I have always enacted loving discipline, and we are strict. However, every time a child is disciplined, we follow up with forgiveness and a hug and a kiss. This lays the groundwork for our experiences out and about, traveling, and at church. The discipline that we’ve established is a big part of the reason that we can travel as much as we do, enjoy a pretty flexible schedule, and know that the children are going to have fun, too. I’ve never been the type to take toys or snacks to church. I think that sends the message, “Adults are supposed to listen, but you can play or eat in here.” It’s God’s house, not our home! The kids are expected to sit. I find that they challenge me the most when they’re 18 months to 3 years old and that’s when I have to lay it on the line. I’ve had several tests with each of the children, but we’ve learned together, and they are very well-behaved in church. Part of the reason I need this from them is that my husband never has the chance to sit with us. If a 2-year-old is being naughty, talking to her hours later is pointless and unfair. I need to enforce our rules, not expect anyone else to do it. The last reason I need the children to know how to behave in church is because I play organ about half of the Sundays. If they won’t behave for me, they certainly won’t behave for a friend! If I let my kids behave like animals in church, that takes away my opportunity to serve the Lord through music. So, the loving discipline that comes from the Lord is a comfort to all of us. My husband and I are enabled through the Spirit to serve during the church service, knowing that the children are not going to detract from the Word by anything they’ll do. And don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying it always goes perfectly, but many people make a point to tell us, “Your children are so well-behaved in church.”—Kate
- Our babies have always stayed with us in church for their first year. The 2- and 3-year-olds are in the nursery as we work with them to learn to sit quietly for service time. Then, from age 4 on, they are with our family in the sanctuary. For the non-readers, we have special notebooks that they use to copy words from the Bible or that I have written, draw pictures related to the message or quietly “read” through their Bibles. I do use faith-based stickers to reward their participation in worship, which they put on their notebooks. For the older children, they are encouraged to copy the Scripture passage that was taught or take notes from the sermon. At home, we all discuss the sermon and ask the younger children questions.—Janet
- We have found it really helpful to train for church. I line up chairs and put on a tape recording of the Bible for 20 minutes. All the children are expected to sit still as if in church. If they did not, I could discipline them more immediately than I could at church. After a while, they all did really well. The baby sits on my lap.—Amy