Trying to keep a toddler quiet and still for one hour while at church is like trying to hold on to a rainbow. In theory, you think you could do it, but the reality of keeping a toddler entertained at church is much different. The way I see it, Jesus was a baby and I’m pretty sure he cried and wouldn’t sit still for his blessed parents either. I don’t expect my toddler or any young child to sit quietly during religious services, but I do make a solid effort to provide them with quiet activities to keep them entertained while we are in Mass.
It is hard. Like really hard. We can usually get through about 30 minutes before she’s ready for a stroll (usually in the narthex for about ten minutes) until it’s time for Communion. Our parish does provide a “cry room” with a television we can view Mass from. I choose not to use it. Plus it’s a hike from the actual sanctuary. If it were in the back of the chapel, I’m sure I’d use it a lot more.
The thing is, I am a catechist at my core. I believe my kids should be a part of the service if they’re to learn about their faith. For my family, this happens right away. I don’t want to ruin anyone else’s time in Mass with a child that is more tornado than a toddler, so I try to come up with a compromise that allows my family to be in Mass together while not totally ruining the service for those in our vicinity.
Keeping A Toddler Entertained At Church is a challenge. This is why so many churches offer childcare for parents of young children. A toddler or preschooler can’t really grasp what’s happening yet, but eventually, they’ll understand what’s expected of them at Church… It’s this teaching time when they need to be entertained during service, that can be a challenge for parents. I don’t think I’ve really enjoyed a service in over a year, because I’m distracted half the time with my daughter, but I know this won’t last forever and so I’m doing what worked for both my boys and I’ve just begun to implement with Ellena… I call it a “church bag”.
It’s a backpack we only use for Mass and it’s filled with quiet activities. Usually, this means books, a magnetic doodler, and saints dolls. She’s only 16 months old, so she hasn’t totally grasped “quiet activity”, but she’s learning, and I’m hopeful that with continued use, she’ll look forward to Mass, if only because she’ll get to play with what’s inside her special “church bag”.
You can check out what I’ve got in my bag in this video.