Enjoying Mass with Kids: What’s in our Mass Bag

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Going to Mass with kids. Oh my how I used to dread it. I remember wondering how I was supposed to be paying attention when all of my attention was focused on keeping a child quiet and behaved. And I laugh now because that was back when we had one child, who also was our quiet well-behaved one. If I only knew what was to come with boys in church!

So here are my Five Simple Ways to Enjoy Mass with Kids

1) Sit in front. I know this sounds crazy. But. It. Works. When the kids can’t see anything but the backs of the heads in front of them they will immediately lose interest and you have no chance of them gaining anything. We don’t always sit in front (it is not hubby’s favorite place, lol!) but the kids request to sit there and I encourage them ;)

2) Establish expectations.

Babies under a year: Nurse/Feed your them right before Mass and they will sleep right through. I use my Sakura Bloom Ring Sling (similar) and baby wear to ensure that baby is cozy and happy.

Busy toddlers*: Give them free reign to quietly play/roam the pew. A sippy with water and a snack cup of cheerios are a great distraction and can help quiet a talkative mouth.

Young children (ages 4-6): Should be able to sit and/or play quietly. Participation is expected when standing and kneeling.

Older children (age 7 and up): Should be paying attention and fully participating in Mass.

*The toddler age has proved to be the most challenging for us and we will take a disruptive child out the side isle to the back when necessary. It is important to remember that when taking a child to the back of the church/cry room that you cannot treat it as a reward. We hold the child until they calm/quiet down and do not let them down to play. It won’t take long for the child to realize that there is more freedom to be quiet in the pew than to be held in the back.

3) Have a family seating arrangement. Once you have more than one child a seating strategy becomes useful. If you are sitting near the front try to get a seat near the side isle so you can leave discretely if necessary. Know your children and place those together that help one another and separate the ones that tend to not get along well. This likely means that you and your husband will not sit side by side and will be seated amongst the children. We sit in the same order each Mass and have (mostly) good luck with the following: (daddy, 8 year old, 22 month old, mama, and 4 year old.)

4) Prepare a Mass Bag. What's in our Mass Bag

This is my secret to getting through Mass with kids and enjoying it. And it only took me 7 years to figure it out… so please take my advice and do not delay putting one together for your family!

I took a handbag that I wasn’t using and made it the dedicated bag to take to Mass. We ONLY get it out for weekend Mass and the kids know that they are not to use any of the contents at any other time without asking. (This is important because you want the books and toys to be “new” and interesting.)

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Our favorite book is the The Busy Bible, a quiet book that covers Creation, Noah’s Ark, The Pillar of Salt, Joseph’s Coat of Many Colors, Baby Moses, Ruth, King Solomon, Jonah, The Birth of Jesus, Fishing for Men, The Good Samaritan, and Dorcas. We have had this quiet book for about six months now and it is still the #1 thing they reach for in the Mass bag. I am looking for another variation of this because I can tell the new is wearing off and plan to use them on rotation to keep things fresh. This one is worth the investment!

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Can You Find Jesus? Introducing Your Child to the Gospel (Search & Learn Books)is a great book for your young child. It is a search and learn book (Where’s Waldo style) that covers the Gospels.

Celebrating Mass (St. Joseph Board Books) is a nice toddler book to help them relate to what they are experiencing. I also have my eye on The Story of Christmas and The Story of Easter to add to our bag seasonally.

Baby’s First Bible: A CarryAlong Treasury A Bible with lovely illustrations.

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Jonah and the Whale (A Chunky Book(R)) A huge hit with toddlers and young children alike. We love the small size and they love the lift flaps. I seriously have all of the other board books in this set on my Amazon wish list.

Craft Stick Picture Puzzles. You can make some at home! My tutorial was featured on the Catholic Sistas blog and you can read it here.

My Daily Bread A great small book with ‘real’ pages that a small child can be deferred to when they want the missal in the pew.

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Catholic Icing’s “A Picture Book of the Mass” I cannot recommend this book highly enough. First of all it is put together by a blogger whom we follow and love, Lacy Rabideau. Lacy has done an exceptional job with the artwork and layout of this children’s missal. We gave this as a first communion gift to our daughter and it has helped her immensely to follow along in Mass. We recently had it laminated and coil bound at our local print shop and recommend doing so for longevity.

Rosaries. We like the My First Rosary -20.5″ Large Bead Wood which are great for sensory play as well as learning to follow along during prayer.

Saint Dolls are a huge part of our life and we love learning about the lives of Holy people… and truth be told, sometimes, HotWheels. Because boys will be boys. I am ok with them as long as they are quiet.

We also have the necessities because I do not also carry a purse or diaper bag. Inside of the zippered compartments I have: hand sanitizer, travel kleenex, a few one dollar bills for the kids to put in the offering. And also a ziplock of diapers and wipes thrown in the main compartment.

5) Enjoy Mass. Sing, read along, pray. Be the example that these precious souls need to experience Him on their own. Because our example is the lead that they will follow.  And in the end their relationship with Christ is all that matters.

Tell me, what is in your Mass Bag? Do you have any great book recommendations?

Please share! XO

PS- I am using Amazon affiliate links now on this website!  Thank you for using them!  I hope to share many books and things that we use and love at home with you this way.  You receive the same great Amazon pricing and our family thanks you for your support!

Christians UNITE for Marriage!

Christians Unite for Marriage

Christians Unite for MarriageMy hand is out reached to you today. I am Catholic. You might be Baptist, Methodist, or Presbyterian. But we are Christians. You see, my heart is heavy and you might know why. Ever since the SCOTUS ruling last Friday I find myself with a weight on my heart. Worrying and wondering about the divisions of this great nation.

Our silence and acceptance has brought us to this point. These fundamental changes in our country’s laws will open up an anti-Christian culture. Morality will continue to decline. Our children will be at risk to the sexually empowered environment they will be surrounded by. Use your voice and your example to stand for His truth. Encourage traditional marriage. Let not our generation be the one that fell silent to sin. Because one day we each will answer the question, “What have you done for my kingdom, good and faithful servant?”

We must bridge together and face the opposition united. Now more than ever we need one another! Denominations are our biggest flaw. Let us come together as brothers and sisters in Christ with the utmost love and compassion to proclaim His truth. Hallelujah, He is King!!!

What denomination are you?

Where do your friends call their church home?

How can we do a better job of working together?

Blessings! xo Janalin

Making the Faith Real for our Children

Making the Faith Real for our Children

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When I stand and face the Lord I hope to hear him say, “well done good and faithful servant.” Knowing that I am so very far from perfection I pray daily that this day can be used for His will in my life.  I believe our biggest calling as parents is passing the faith to our children.   Have you considered how you are making the faith real to the next generation?  Why is it that so many children are becoming luke warm or leaving the faith?  Parents- it is our calling to raise up these children to be warriors for Christ!

Here are some ways to make the faith come alive for children.

1- Worship weekly at church. Children need to see us getting dressed up… seeing that this time is the most important time that we give in our week.

2- Pray out loud as a family. Sharing memorized prayers helps young minds grasp and follow along. Praying from our hearts helps older children know how to talk to God and introduces them to their relationship with him.  Be sure and pray several times a day as well as a family!

3- Read the Bible together!  There are so many fantastic children’s Bibles available… be sure and read a story each night before bed.  And let your children ‘catch’ you reading your Bible too.

4- Make Christ visual in our homes.  We need pictures hung and verses in the wall.  These things may seem easy to skip over, but children notice.  Subliminal messages are sometimes the strongest ones.

5- Parent with gentleness.  Treat every child as Jesus would.  This means calming our own frustrations when we are at whits end and quietly asking for His guidance.  It means smiling at children we don’t know and always welcoming our children’s friends into our home with love and grace.

6- Sing his praises. Do your children know simple bible school songs? Sing them in the morning during your getting ready routine.  Play contemporary Christian music in your car.  And introduce Christian entertainment instead of the regular cartoons they watch.

7- Teach reverence and sacredness of tradition.  So many young adults decide that picking and choosing what to follow of their faith.  We need to set the example that God’s law IS THE LAW and that we cannot pick and choose what to follow.  (Do your children know the Ten Commandments?)

8- Disciple to others.  Sharing our faith is the core discipleship.  We all have different paths in life and we need to share our Light with all whom we meet.  Our actions, words, and reactions are all being observed (and sometimes analyzed!) by others.  Be sure that our daily interactions with our husbands, children, extended family, friends and co-workers are those that would exude His example.

 

Easter Preparations:  Right now we are preparing for the most sacred time of year in this season of Lent.  Use this time to bring reverence for the sacrifice that He made for us.  Here are a few ideas to bring Christ and His love to your child’s heart during this season:

Resurrection eggs

Stations of the cross (at your local Catholic church.  I HIGHLY recommend going to the children’s version no matter what your denomination.  This is a must do!)

Rice bowls

Fasting: This can be abstaining from sweets, quitting bad habits, or also shown in the way of adding something that you don’t normally do to your day (

Crafts and Activities from Lacy Rabideau’s blog

 

Happy Sunday and many Blessings to you and your family!  xo

NFP: A beautiful gift

Have you heard this joke? It’s a classic from when hubby and I were getting married…

 

Father in Law– “What do you call people that use NFP?”

Me– “I don’t know, what?”

Father in Law– “Parents!!!” (insert laughter here)

Me– *crickets chirping. Not funny to me… and I couldn’t even fake it. I was TERRIFIED.

 

Read my article here (page 13) in this week’s Catholic Advance that covers one of the reasons we love natural family planning.