The masses of Holy Week are always a joy for us, although they can be a bit difficult with the young children in tow.
This year we will have three little kiddos (7, 5, and almost 1) with us for the Holy Week masses. With the masses lasting longer and happening in the evening (right around bedtime, of course), keeping kids happy and quiet for the whole mass is difficult. Here are some of the things we plan to do to make Holy Week masses with our young children a bit easier.
Talk about the mass before attending.
This can be as simple as reading the readings for the evening. You can even make this fun for the kids by printing out coloring sheets and letting them complete them on the way, while you wait for mass to begin or another time that day. Catholic Icing and Catholic Mom have some great printables and resources to choose from. We’ve used both resources many times and have already printed out a few things for this week.
Bring books, soft toys, snacks, etc.
We only let the littlest one have toys and snacks at mass. The other two are old enough to pay attention to the mass and participate. In Sugar Plum’s mass bag we have snacks (cheerios at the moment), water, a few bible/devotion board books, caterpillar hand manipulative and a teether toy. She only gets these toys at mass, that way they are exciting to her each week. Another thing we always try to do is keep her entertained as much before mass without the items from her bag, that way she is not bored with them by the middle of mass. This tends to work well, but each week it’s a little different.
Use a carrier
All of the Holy Week masses are at Sugar Plum’s bedtime. This makes it really difficult to keep her happy. My plan is to get there a little bit early, wrap her in the carrier and bounce her to sleep before mass, that way she will be sleeping through mass… hopefully. If she does not, I’ve got my mass bag full of goodies (see #2).
Sit in the front
This has been such a blessing for us, the kids pay much better attention when they are in the front row. They can see everything that is happening, the priest can see them and there are less distractions.
Go with the flow
Things will never seem to go as planned, but planning ahead can make it a bit easier in the moment. If your kiddo has a meltdown, know you are not the first person this has happened to, you will not be the last and you will probably not be the only one that night. Take a deep breath and know that luckily most of the people in the church understand what you are going through too. The important thing is that you have made the effort to attend and as our priest often mentions, the cries are just their way of praising! It’s all about perspective.
What are your tips for heading to mass with your young children?