If you have toddlers at home, you know all about the highs and lows of bringing a toddler to church.
Sister Rosemary M. Wixom, former Primary general president, said: “Be thoughtful and tolerant of children and those adults with children. … Imagine with me that you are a child sitting on a hard seat with your legs stretched out straight unable to touch the floor. Seated next to you are the people you love the most, but they won’t talk to you or scarcely look at you. That is a child’s perspective of sacrament meeting.”
Sitting still for 70 minutes of anything is difficult for most toddlers, whether it’s an animated movie or a series of adults speaking on topics a child can’t understand. In case you’ve never experienced the joy of sitting by a young child during sacrament meeting, here’s a brief rundown of what to do should you ever find yourself in that situation.
Step 1: Show up with high expectations.
“We’ve so got this,” you and your spouse whisper to each other before sitting down. Then you fist bump and admire your well-packed bag and well-fed, well-rested children. What could go wrong?
Step 2: Enjoy it while things are good.
Your kids may even be extra cute during those first few minutes — maybe until after the opening song. But a few minutes into the meeting …
Step 3: Watch as boredom sets in.
It’s the turning point. All the kids are getting restless and bored, so you try to help by whispering to your toddler about how important it is to be reverent. This is ineffective.
Step 4: Prevent him/her from running away.
You may need to be quick. For this part, it’s best if you’re not wearing heels.
To get a toddler to stay in your assigned pew, you may need to break out the coloring books, puzzles, and other quiet toys.
Step 5: Enjoy the few seconds your toddler is occupied.
Some children may be able to sit and color for 70 minutes, but most won’t. Get creative to fill the time.
If you’re lucky, there will be a rest hymn to break up the monotony. However, this is a short-term gain, because your child will probably think it’s time to leave.
Step 6: Sing the rest hymn.
Step 7: Watch the toddler’s disappointment when he realizes it wasn’t the closing hymn.
This is especially heartbreaking if everyone stood during the rest hymn.
Step 8: Do whatever it takes.
Even the sweetest of children can get hard to handle at this point. Get even more creative to get through that last speaker. More toys! Books! A walk to the drinking fountain! Stickers on Daddy’s face!
Pray the concluding speaker finishes on time, and when the 70 minutes is up …
Step 9: Take your toddler to nursery.
If he or she is at least 18 months old, that is.
Enjoy the quiet of Sunday School for a few minutes before you start to miss your child. Check on him or her in nursery if it helps with the separation. Before you know it, it’s time to
Step 10: Reunite with the little angel.
Step 11: Enjoy an awesome week of playing and doing toddler-approved things —
Especially if they don’t involve sitting still.