How to make it to 9 a.m. church meetings on time


Church family

because-I-said-so-greenWhen you have little kids in the LDS Church, 9 a.m. meetings rock. It’s the getting there that stinks. I have two methods for making it though the chapel doors before the opening hymn:

Option 1: Saturday is a special day …

Prep time: 24 hours

9 a.m. Saturday: Start gathering dress clothes for Sunday. Find dress, bloomers, shoes and headband for daughter. Although daughter has more clothing and accessories than rest of family put together, still can’t find single combination in which all components match.  Is no problem because can simply go to the store and buy cheap headband for daughter to rip off and lose immediately upon entering church.

Make boys try on clothes. Oldest son’s pants are getting tight. Wonder if new pants are cheaper than therapy he’ll need when his pants split in Sunday School. Six-year-old’s clothes fit perfectly, except he insists on hiking pants up in Steve Urkel manner, which makes pants appear very, very short. Make him watch episode of “Family Matters” on YouTube as cautionary tale.

Spend hour unsuccessfully looking under furniture for baby’s missing shoe. Is no problem because can simply go to store and buy pair of shoes for baby to rip off and lose immediately upon entering church.

11 a.m. Saturday: Iron everything. Clean out diaper bag, discard disgusting, smashed Cheerios in Ziploc bag, and broken pen leaking ink. Realize have no light-colored, non-greasy, non-staining snacks for baby. Is no problem as can just go to store to find snacks for baby to mash into foyer carpet.

7 p.m. Saturday: Skip date night to instead go to grocery store for hair bows, baby shoes and non-staining snacks. Come home, bathe all children, practice complicated Barbie-princess-waterfall hairdo found on Pinterest for daughter. Pick out own outfit. Go to bed early to prepare for morning. As they say at Home Depot, “Let’s do this.”

6 a.m. Sunday: Out of bed with first alarm. Shower, read scriptures, start doing own hair and makeup because is like putting on own oxygen mask first in event of cabin-pressure change.

7:30 a.m. Sunday: Wake husband to shower, and then have him get children dressed. Is only fair as have a lot longer hair than husband. And husband is naturally beautiful and doesn’t need truckload of makeup to be allowed in public.

8 a.m. Sunday: Slight disaster when realize outfit picked out night before actually makes self look much fatter than really am, and is also covered in baby spit up. Blind panic ensues. Try on every clothing combination in closet before giving up and wearing outfit wore two weeks ago. Does anyone notice these things?

8:45 a.m. Sunday: Where is husband? Sitting in car looking at phone. (Do they teach this in priesthood meeting?)

Load kids, arrive five minutes early and secretly hope for well-deserved high five from teenage usher at chapel door. Instead, am handed a program without congratulation.

Option 2: The mad dash

Prep time: 40 minutes

10:30 p.m. Saturday: Home from date night. Should really lay out everyone’s church clothes, but forgot to do it earlier. Am so tired. Is better idea to go to bed and set alarm for super-early. Will be refreshed and better able to handle hair-bow drama in morning.

6 a.m. Sunday: Alarm goes off. Am so tired. Will just go back to sleep for 5 minutes.

8:15 a.m.: Aaaaaaaaah! Have overslept, along with every other family member. (Why does this only happen on Sunday mornings?)

Wake husband and children in hysterical manner. Skip showers completely, instead using lots of deodorant, and baby powder on self to disguise greasy roots. Husband gets boys dressed. Coax daughter’s Medusa-like hair into ponytail. (How do moms with more than one girl do it?) Curse self for not picking out own outfit night before. Try on every combination of clothing in closet, leaving foot-deep pile of debris in wake.


Load kids in car, dispensing smashed snacks from diaper bag because no one has had breakfast. Realize diaper bag is misnomer because has no actual diapers.

Apply new mascara over yesterday’s mascara, poking self in eye when car hits a bump. Try to apply lipstick but end up looking like Joker from Batman movies.

8:59 a.m. Arrive at church. Cringe at children’s outfits. Six-year-old is wearing ratty Nikes with his khakis. Eight-year-old looks like he has slept in his clothes — for a month. Daughter’s dress is too small, and hair elastic has broken and freed Medusa curls. Baby is missing shoe.

Still, have made it to church with one minute to spare. Is nothing short of miraculous. Am some kind of a Supermom. Secretly hope for a high five from usher at chapel door. Instead, am handed a program without congratulation.

Sit family on back row metal chairs, relax and enjoy prelude music. Have made it! Love Sunday mornings! Am awesome at being prepared and arriving on time!

Suddenly, 6-year-old leans over and whispers:

 “Mom, I forgot to tell you I have a talk today.”


Elyssa Andrus has worked as a journalist for 14 years, most recently as the lifestyle editor at the Daily Herald newspaper in Provo. She is a contributor to the KSL-TV show "Studio 5" and is co-author of the book "Happy Homemaking" (Cedar Fort, 2012) with Natalie Hollingshead. She lives with her husband and four young children in Utah Valley.

One Comment

  1. AvatarVaLynne Stoddard Reply

    Okay I know this article came out several months ago while I was away from my computer on vacation but this is a pet peeve of mine and so would like to rant a minute.
    I am our Ward’s Sacrament meeting chorister and Sacrament meeting is first in our Ward. One thing I have noticed through observation is that being on time or being late, HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH TIME! Those who are late at 9:00 a.m. are also late to the 1:00 p.m. meeting! Those who are on time every week are the same families and those who are late every time are always the same people. We all know who will come in late. It is a habit! And I admit, in my opinion, a bad one. They are telling the Lord that their time is more important than his and therefore they don’t want to be there a minute early “wasting their time.”
    We live 3 blocks from the Church, I know a long ways for those who live in Utah, but really and truly how far you live a way or how close you live has nothing to do with being late either. Everyone knows how long it takes them to get to Church so distance is not an excuse. Number of kids does not make a difference either, I know families with a couple of kids who are always late and I know bigger families who never are. I know families that wouldn’t dream of letting their kids be late to school, which starts before 9 a.m. but coming to Church late is okay with them! What a great way to let your children know that the Lord or his teachings, the gospel, is not the most important thing in their lives!
    When I had young children to get ready we left for Church a half hour before Church starts to drive that 3 blocks (no stop light nor stop sign on the way, but we do drive because of long winters in Wyoming) Now that we are empty nesters we still leave a half hour early because as stated it is a habit. We do get to sleep in a little later because we no longer have little ones at home, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that if it takes an hour to get every one ready you get up at such and such a time to be able to leave the house in order to be there several minutes! The parent’s professions do not make a difference either. I have seen Dr.s and Dentists who would be upset if their patients were late, be habitually late to Church. Even those who have deadlines with news articles and wouldn’t dream of mission.
    But then again it must be easy to tell the Lord that singing praises to Him is not important by waiting till the last verse of the opening hymn to come in to the Chapel.

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