How I prepare for church with a large family
At the beginning of the year my husband told me that one of our family goals was to get to church before it starts. Yeah we were pretty much that family that showed up in the middle of praise and worship and sometimes later. He is not late for his job and the children are not late for school he reasoned. The Lord wanted us to have a renewed perspective on going to worship as it is more important than a job or school. Point well taken Pastor Tyrone. I will say it is a lot of work but with more deliberate planning on my part it can be done. Hear me when I say that I write this post not as an expert or as someone who has mastered all of this. I am in the thick of things here folks but I have found that consistently implementing the following steps has helped us to be punctual.
1. Washing and combing the girls hair can be very time consuming. With that in mind I now try to wash and comb the two older girls hair on Saturday. This way I just have to focus on Faith’s hair on Sunday morning. No more playing beauty shop on Sunday mornings.
2. Select and iron clothing for children and adults midweek. This is a huge time saver. When I say select clothing I mean everything, including accessories (tights, socks, belts, etc.). Make sure the tights you thought would work don’t have holes in them, not fun to find this out on Sunday morning. Even with a designated spot to put them, shoes can quickly go missing from our shoe closet downstairs. Tyrone has made it a point to get the younger two boys church shoes and put it in their rooms as opposed to the regular shoe closet. This way we don’t run the risk of searching for missing shoes as we are heading out the door.
3. Fill your vehicle with gas during the week, don’t wait until Sunday morning.
4. We also try to make sure everyone completes their homework either on Friday or Saturday. This way we don’t have to stress about signing papers or completing homework before or after church. I realize that this may change as the kids get older and their homework becomes more difficult. However at this point in the game we are trying to teach them to prioritize and prayerfully these lessons will stick.
5. Restock the diaper bag with pampers, change of clothes and wipes the night before. In the morning, I have a designated child pack snacks for the younger ones and fill the sippy cup. He is also instructed to take the bag immediately to the van once the task is completed, ensuring that we do not leave the diaper bag behind.
6. Get to bed at a reasonable hour. We try not to entertain the mindset of ” oh it’s the weekend so we can stay up as late as we want.” We don’t allow the children to stay up late on school nights so the same holds true for the night before we go to worship. Our service starts a little later but we try to have breakfast together on Sunday mornings and we also have to travel a distance for church. We are not mommy and daddy kill joy so the kids may stay up one or two extra hours later but we encourage them to get a good night sleep.
7. I aim to get up at least a hour before the entire family on Sunday morning. This means I have to be wise about what time I go to bed on Saturday night. During this hour I cook dinner. Don’t be too impressed, I try to make my Sunday dinner as simple as possible and make the oven do most of the cooking. I do not try new recipes on Sundays. I stick to what I know and what I do well. Sunday is the day for whole roasted chicken, ribs, roast, etc. I like to slow cook my meats so I put it in first thing in the morning and by the time we are ready to leave for church 4 hours later, I can take dinner out the oven and put it in the fridge. I also aim to prepare sides that require minimum work like oven roasted sweet potatoes or steamed vegetables. It takes me approximately 30 minutes most mornings to prepare a nutritious Sunday dinner. We sometimes choose to eat out on Sundays as a special treat but this is an exception not the rule.
8. We have a departure time in mind. This sounds simple but it really is needed. If you have the mindset that we will leave when we can, it doesn’t give you a goal to work toward. Announcing to the older children what time we want to leave helps to keep them on track and keep us all on the same page.
With six children 11 and under things won’t always go as planned but the above steps have helped to minimize a lot of frustrations on Sunday mornings.
What are some things your family does to prepare for Sunday Worship?
About the Author
Anika Jones is a speaker and author of the book Lessons Learned Along The Way: A 40 Day Devotional. She blogs about faith and family at LivingForLater.com and posts weekly videos on her YouTube channels, Living For Later (@livingforlater) and Living Life Now (@livinglifenow). Anika loves speaking about developing intimacy with God and understanding who we are in Christ. She serves alongside her husband in ministry. They live in Illinois with their 6 children.