Church Anxiety

So, have you ever heard of church anxiety? Because I just recently diagnosed myself with the condition. Church anxiety is when you have an irrational fear of going into church with your children and you spend most of the service trying to keep your 4 and 2 year old relatively quiet. Which at times could be considered an Olympic sport. Seriously. Feel free to watch my husband and I with our two children sometime at Mass. Olympic sport I tell ya. A typical Sunday morning in our household usually looks a little something like this:

1. I try and get up before kids, grab my coffee and toast then head to the bathroom to get ready.

2. Kids wake up at the same time demanding milk. Getting ready will have to wait, so I grab them breakfast and their coveted milk then ask my husband to take over so I can get ready for church.

3. Gavin follows me to the bathroom and so does Sophia. Getting ready has also become an Olympic sport.

4. I am ready as I'll ever be and then proceed to wipe off leftover food from the babes mouths and get them dressed. Depending on their moods, this step is the easiest step of all or my worst nightmare.

5. Husband has been getting ready while I've been getting kids clean and clothes on.

6. Pack the diaper bag, take another sip of my coffee then tell the kids to get "their shoes for mommy" approximately 153 times. Once they get said shoes, we put them on and out the door we go!

Whoa, are you feeling anxious just reading this because I am! (Where's the vino?! Kidding.) I won't even get into the step by step process we go through every...single...Sunday to keep our kids in the pew to get them to behave like the little saints they are because I'm almost sure after reading that you will have a migraine.

So, why do we bring our kids to Mass? Why not just leave the kids at home and trade services with my husband? (Which we have done in the past if the kids are sick or if one of us isn't feeling too hot. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that!) Why do my husband and I put ourselves through all of this? Good question! No, no, I'm kidding. I do it because when the mornings are good, they are really good. My heart fills with joy when I see my son looking at all the statues around us then looking up at me and asking me,"is that Jesus' mommy?" (Love.That.) We bring them because community is important and the families that belong to our church are solid people that will bring good influences into our lives and more importantly our childrens lives. We bring our kids to church because among all the ruckus that can and does ensue they do learn from the Mass.

There are days where it is a struggle indeed and I feel my heart rate start to rise, my head starts to spin and I have to take a deep breath to get through Mass. But there are the mornings where the church anxiety slowly but surely disappears and I feel little hands placed in mine listening quietly to all that is going on. I look at my family sitting in the pew and I feel comforted. I feel comforted because all four of us are together and I feel grateful to be apart of such a welcoming community. So, while there is chaos there is also beauty and that is why we bring our kids to church.

To avoid getting the dreaded church anxiety, I have listed some practical ways to overcome this condition:

1.  You can get these really cool children's felt bibles at: www.busybibles.com These bibles have quiet activities and bible stories on each page that keep kids engaged. I know I have seen some ideas on Pinterest that give step by step instructions on how to make your own felt bible. So if you're feeling crafty, check that out!

2. I have heard of parents treating the cry room in church like a time out. If the child has to be taken to the cry room they do not get snacks, their sippy cup and they may not play in the cry room. The idea behind making this a sort of time out is that the child begins to realize being in church is way better than the cry room. At least in church they can still get their drink and snack when they behave! Some children cry just so they can be taken to the cry room which creates a problem for the parent. So if the kid wants to throw a tantrum in the middle of church...then they are taken to "time out".

3. Another tip I have been given from family members is to sit in the front. I remember when Gavin was a newborn I definitely slid into Mass in the back row. But as he got older, I realized I should maybe take their advice. As Gavin began to get older he was curious, he wanted to see what was going on in the front. When we sat in the very back row there were many distractions for myself and Gavin. So on to the front we went! I have found since we have made the executive decision to sit up front, the kids are much better during Mass.

Do you have any life saving tips to get you and your family through church? If so, I'd love to hear all about it!

A picture of the kids and their friends after church. Did you read that right? This was taken after church so that means we all survived! Yay!