It seems like so much has changed since I was a kid in the 90s (I either just aged myself or became a real kid, hmm). I grew up in a time of dial-up internet, movie rental stores and land-line phones. Now we have WiFi, Netflix and tiny computers in our hands. And while all this technology is pretty cool most of the time, I think it’s also resulted in some lost arts – snail-mail letter writing, going to a bookshelf to look something up, and the today’s tip for worshiping with littles:
Yes, technology is great, but thanks to earbuds and headphones, smart phones and built-in DVD players right in the car, we could lose out on valuable time to connect with our kids. In all fairness, headphones and portable cd players and Game Boys were around in the 90s, so car technology isn’t necessarily a new thing. But that doesn’t make this tip any less relevant.
We spend a good chunk of time in our cars with our kids. If we’re careful and intentional, we could make some really good use of this time we have together. Think about it. Aside from the fact that your car is taking you somewhere, no one in the car is going anywhere. Your kids are literally strapped to their seats. They could have limited distractions, which makes your chances of meaningful conversations much higher. So why not make the most of these minutes you’re in the car and have meaningful conversations on your way to church!
These don’t have to be lengthy conversations. Just a couple minutes could help your worship time with your littles run a little more smoothly. A few ideas to get these car conversations going:
Set expectations – Remind your littles your rules for being in church. Tell them how you expect them to behave (and be ready to keep reminding them throughout the morning) so there aren’t surprises. Remember, our kids need us to set these expectations! Of course, these expectations might vary depending on the ages of your littles, but everyone can have some guidance for how to go into church that day. For my one-year-old I might remind her that we use our quiet voice in church, knowing that she will probably make noise anyway, but I still set the expectation. For a four-year-old maybe you remind of a goal for church that day, like singing all the songs. Maybe you remind your six-year-old that their younger siblings are looking up to them and you need them to set an example.
Remind consequences – This isn’t something you need to dwell on before church, but reminding your kids of the consequences you’ve set for breaking the rules is helpful so there aren’t big surprises during worship. It could be as simple a reminder as, “I’m not going to have to take anyone out of church today, right?” Another way to do this is to take the positive spin and remind of the rewards that are possible for good behavior. “Remember, we’ll have cookies after lunch if we use our inside voices today.”
Set the tone – Let’s be honest, Sunday mornings aren’t everyone’s best attitude days. What is it about heading to church that makes us more prone to fight, cry and be grumpy? The challenge is to try to turn that around. Parents can set the tone for the day by checking our own attitudes and talking to our kids about what we’re excited for about church. “I can’t wait to sing today.” “I’m so excited to see our friends this morning.” Sometimes all it takes is us showing a little interest and enthusiasm!
Car conversations don’t have to be a lost art. Take a couple minutes on your way to church to be positive and set yourselves up for success before you even get to the front doors!