Family Worship, Camping and Baby Books; 4 Moms Answer Questions

How do you handle an active 2 year old during Family Worship?  What does camping looking like with big kids, toddlers and newborns? With 10 kids do you keep a scrapbook or box for each child?  This week the 4 Moms of Many are answering your questions.

Connie tackles questions about preparing for a newborn, treats for long car trips and wearing dresses.

KimC talks about wearing mostly skirts most of the time.

Deputy Headmistress is answering mystery questions. 😉

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I’ve received a lot of questions about teaching children to sit through times of worship.

If you want more information about child training you may be interested in  my series on Your Child’s Heart, specifically  Discipline and Instruction.

The best thing that we do to teach our little ones to be still (and relatively quiet) during family and corporate worship is that we begin early and we take it one step at a time.

We keep our children with us during family and corporate worship from the time that they are born and expect them to participate as much as possible as soon as possible.  Most of our children have been fairly reliable at sitting through worship and not disturbing others by the time they are about 9 months old.

Folding hands during prayer is our earliest lesson and at 3 months Isabella is beginning.  Within reason, we have her practice folding her hands every time we pray.   During the prayer I hold her little hands together and as we say ‘Amen’ we bring her hands apart and praise her for doing a good job.  When we begin training she might have her hands folded in her mouth so that she can suck on them but we slowly work to where she is able to fold her hands in her lap for the duration of the prayer.

Our next lesson is learning not to ‘talk’ during worship.  This is another one we’ve started with Bella.  The easiest way to discourage her from ‘talking’ at this stage is simply not to look at her or ‘talk’ back to her during our times of worship.  As she gets older we will begin to tell her, “Shh, no talking.”  (I wrote more extensively about this process here , just over half way down the page.) By teaching things as soon as the child is capable of doing them there is much less conflict as opposed to waiting until they are accustomed to doing what they wish and then putting limitations on their actions.

We teach staying on their bottom next.  When they begin to learn to sit up there are certain circumstances where they are always required to stay sitting on their bum (in the bath tub and when they’re sitting on my lap during a meal, for example).  By teaching them consistently that there are certain times that they may not move around, this lesson doesn’t  required much teaching at all.  If your baby has NEVER been allowed to stand up or crawl around in the bathtub, then they simply don’t consider this option.  (Well, until they are old enough to know better and wish to test your limits, but that is another story entirely.)

But what about a two-year-old?  Here are some ideas and tips that I hope will be useful for beginning the process with an older child:

Give clear  guidelines. If you wish for your child to sit still, give them clear, definite instructions.  Giving them their own chair (as opposed to a couch or floor) helps define where their bottom should stay.  Asking them to keep their hands folded in their lap gives them something concrete to work toward.  A two year old who is “sitting still” is not going to look the same as a 12 year old who is sitting still.   They are just 2 after all.

We’ve found that giving strict guidelines at the beginning and then loosening them up as the child demonstrates responsibility is much better than going in the opposite direction.  Also, in the beginning it’s natural for a child to test their boundaries, if they have smaller boundaries there is less likely to be a disruption for those around when they test those boundaries.

If the task is overwhelming just pick one or two things to work on and ignore the rest. Communicate your expectations clearly to your child and be consistent.  When you achieve success pick another couple of things to focus on.

Be consistent. You have to decide if this is worth it to you and to your family.  If it is then realize that during the training process there may be times when family worship isn’t what you wish it would be because you will have to address each time the child disobeys.  (For more information read the Your Child’s Heart series.)

Have fun. It’s difficult to talk about these types of topics with people who we do not personally know and I hope that I’m not sounding schizophrenic here, but while we expect a great deal from our children, we also greatly delight in them.  (The two most common comments we get about our children is 1. how well behaved they are and 2. how happy they are.)

We enjoy holding our little ones (and sometimes the older ones too) on our laps.  We occasionally  sing fun, action songs, tickle little toes, laugh at mispronunciations and generally have a joyful and fun time as we’re gathered together to worship our God.  We are able to do this because we have our children’s hearts and deep inside they desire to please God and us.  We are not at war with each other.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that self-control, obedience and learning to sit still  should lead to joy.  I’m not saying there will be no conflict on the way, but the end result should be the fruit of the spirit; love, joy and peace.

Here is more info on keeping your children in worship

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Do you keep a scrapbook or box for each child? I wondered if you did anything special.

I began by doing the traditional baby books with the first several children, but as our house filled up I quickly realized that I wasn’t doing a good job at staying caught up on those books.

As I thought about my dilemma I realized that there will come a day when I will want to look over their baby things and pictures and when I will have more time to create a special memory book for them.  I imagine that will come when I no longer have little ones to nurse, change, feed and cuddle.

Currently I have a hanging file for each child.  In the file I keep mementos like ultrasound pictures, cards and notes from their birth, special cards from their first birthday, a lock of hair from their first hair cut, some of my favorite pieces of their art work and other special items.

I also keep a personal journal where I record funny things they say, their milestones (not so good on that one), prayer requests for them, a record of their accomplishments, stories of their lives, etc.

My plan is  to create a scrapbook  from the things that I’ve written, pictures we’ve taken and things I’ve saved in their file.   My idea is to give it to them as a wedding or engagement gift.  I’ll let you know how that works out. 😉

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What does camping looking like with big kids, toddlers and newborns?

Honestly, this would take me a whole series of posts to answer, but since I’m a notorious procrastinator (or perhaps it’s just because I don’t have much extra time to spend blogging) I’m going to try to share highlights now.

Make a list. I include everything that we need to pack on that list including food, condiments, entertainment, camping equipment, etc. and I include amounts (like 5 pairs of underwear).  This makes the packing process more manageable.

Have a plan. When we camp Mark does all of the cooking and I get the table and children ready to eat.  Both of us wash the dishes with one child helper.

Our days follow a simple pattern.  We get up and leisurely eat breakfast and pack a lunch.  Then we do our activity for the day whether it’s hiking, swimming, visiting an attraction, etc.  We have a picnic every day.  Mid-afternoon we head back to our camp site and those who need to nap are able to and the rest of us read, play games and eventually make dinner.

We have a buddy system with our children so each older child takes helps particularly with one younger child.

Train your children. One of the specific questions I received was how to get everyone to go to sleep at the same time, all together.  When we’re camping and it’s time for bed we say, OK kids time for bed and they get in the tent and go to bed.  Sometimes the older ones will stay out by the fire with Mark and me, so only the younger ones are in the tent and sometimes all the children go to bed at once.

I’m not assuming that this happens spontaneously, but our children share bedrooms and are accustomed to going to bed when it’s bedtime.

This is also helpful when it comes to packing, preparing food or taking care of the younger children.  If the children are used to helping with those things at home then you can expect the same from them while you’re camping.

Get Camping in the Big Woods – A friend of mine recently published an ebook with lots of practical information about camping with kids.  It also has a stellar list of recipes including whole food options.

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Whew, next month I think I need to answer fewer questions.

Now go read what  Headmistress, KimC and Connie have to say to your questions.

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18 Responses to Family Worship, Camping and Baby Books; 4 Moms Answer Questions
  1. Cheryl @ Treasures from a Shoebox
    October 28, 2010 | 9:00 am

    Some great info here! We are currently trying to train our 10th child (14 month old) to be still and sit quietly through our 2 hr church service. Maybe it’s because I’m older or else I’ve forgotten how this can be consuming. This little guy refuses to be quiet for me. Thankfully, he obeys Daddy’s commands. I do usually end up taking him to the back toward the end of service so as not to disrupt those around us.

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  2. Holly
    October 28, 2010 | 9:08 am

    This is a great post!! We also keep all of our children with us during worship times from birth. I have to say that when you have children who are used to sitting still for 2 hours every week it sure does make Dr. appt. wait times a breeze 🙂 What good practice for life!! I notice a huge difference in our toddlers once we have mastered being able to sit still for long periods, be quiet and be content. We can go on long car rides, wait in long lines and they can sit in their strollers for long periods and I have no melting down 🙂 What a joy!! And there is just nothing like the expression on their faces when you unbuckle them or set them down and say “ok, you can go play now!”

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  3. chantelle
    October 28, 2010 | 9:35 am

    Thanks for answering all these questions. I need to check out your friend’s ebook. I laughed when you talked about the kid’s scrapbooks. 🙂 I like that idea……a wedding present….:)

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    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    I don’t see getting those books done much before then. 😉

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  4. Conversatio in Caelis
    October 28, 2010 | 10:17 am

    Thank you for your answers! I especially enjoyed the first one. And I am glad I am not the only mother who expects her little kids to be quiet at church – sometimes parishioners look askance at me because I do that. I was told, they are kids (still I don’t think, they should get up and make noise during service).
    Now I think, I’m gonna dig into your older posts and look for some good tips and encouragement!

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  5. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Kimberly , gentiled. gentiled said: RT @RaisingOlives: RT @raisingolives Kids in church, camping and baby books, moms of many answer your questions http://bit.ly/bR49bv […]

  6. Autumn Beck
    October 28, 2010 | 11:30 am

    Camping is our favorite family activity! And on mornings like today I *wish* we were camping! We are just a family of 6 (w/ 1 on the way) and we camp in a pop-up. Most of my friends think I’m crazy for camping with young kids, babies and cloth diapers but what’s not to love…less to clean, less cooking, kids are playing, you’re outside in God’s creation!

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  7. Annie
    October 28, 2010 | 11:37 am

    Kim- great answers for the question of 2 year olds in family and corporate worship settings!
    Samuel, 7 months, is beginning to squirm more and make his voice heard. I have been doing most of the things you have talked about with him however I have never thought of the “folding the babies hands” thing. What a great idea! I will have to do that!
    Thanks!

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  8. Kimarie @ The Cardamom's Pod
    October 28, 2010 | 1:02 pm

    I like it when you answer questions like this! Well-written, as always, Kimberly. 🙂

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  9. Sarah
    October 28, 2010 | 1:48 pm

    We are going through the process of getting our 21 month old to sit still in church and for family worship. This is #5 and I have thought that it should be easy by now. Can’t say it has been a complete breeze although we are beginning to see results!
    We’ve found that tired children find it much more difficult to behave. Similarly, it is much easier for a child to behave well in familiar surroundings than in a different church. We sit in the same place, more or less, each week.
    Our little one loves holding a hymn book and behaves responsibly with this.
    I wish that we had worked on folding hands earlier!

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  10. Kelli
    October 28, 2010 | 2:54 pm

    First, thanks for all the wonderful tips! We do some of them and the ones we don’t do, I’m so glad you mentioned and will be sure to try out.

    Okay, so here’s the question of the day…

    You know you’re a good parent and you know how to discipline, but how do you muster up the energy to CONSTANTLY discipline. I have a 3-year-old who takes up ALL of my energy in the dicipline department. I start out the day asking the Lord for patience and understanding, consistency and grace, but at the end of the day, I’m whooped! I get so tired of correcting that I allow Satan to discourage me as a mother.

    What do I do? Help! 🙂

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    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    “how do you muster up the energy to CONSTANTLY discipline”

    The short answer is, “I don’t”. I fail all day long and then get up the next morning and start all over. I frequently tell my husband that our two little boys (4 and 2) are wearing me out.

    That said there are a few things that help me do what I believe God has called me to do.

    1. I know that God has not give me more than I can handle and that He has (and will) equip me for the task that He has given me.

    2. God loves me and my children so much that He sent His Son to die on the cross that we might live. How can I NOT do what He asks me.

    3. Teaching and training my children is more important than clean laundry, dinner on the table, school work or a meal for a sick family.

    So I’m just like you, I get up each morning pray for strength and wisdom and try again.

    May the Lord bless your efforts.

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  11. Mercy
    October 28, 2010 | 4:00 pm

    Thanks for this post. We are still training our 16 month old to sit through church. I thought we started early, but I’m seeing you start things even much earlier than us (folding hands, for example.) We are having a lot of trouble teaching her to be quiet — she is a nonstop chatterbox at home, and being quiet for an hour and half (minus singing time) is quite a challenge for her. She is and has been accustomed to sitting through daily family worship since birth, but we have struggled with being quiet for months.

    I am wondering if you ever feel that you are being overbearing with your children in this process. Recently she started “crumpling” in church, where she would be sitting quietly and then her face would scrunch up while she fought back crying. I really started questioning our goals at this point and wondered if we were pushing her too hard. Were all of your children ready to sit through church at the same age, or were some more difficult than others?

    I have tried the “no toys in the back, a couple quiet toys in church” to help her enjoy and prefer being in the service, but we noticed it was MUCH more difficult to keep her quiet and she ended up getting more discipline this way. Now the only items she plays with are her shoes, and we let her look through the Psalm book because she enjoys spotting letters she knows.

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    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    No, not all of our children were ready to sit through church at the same age, most, but not all.

    Here are my two cents. You are her mommy, you know her, you love her. Pray, ask her daddy and know that the Bible does not say, “Thy 16 month old shalt sit quietly through worship every Sunday.”

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  12. mette
    October 28, 2010 | 6:45 pm

    Hi, I have an almost 3yo with whom I have much trouble. She basically listens to nothing I say, unless there’s a carrot or a stick attached to it:( she’s taken to screaming all the time and there’s a lot of conflict with the 5 yo big brother. I have always been quite relaxed in the discipline department, and that way has worked neatly with the two oldest kids (5 & 10) but here I feel like I really need to “take back command” a bit. The only thing I’ve been able to invent is sitting her in the car seat, strapped (because otherwise she’d just get right back out…) and doing the time out kinda thing. I don’t like doing this, but I honestly also really want her to learn to do what she’s told, and I need her to be less disruptive overall.

    I think she needs me to be more focused on her, because when we do one-on-one things and she’s alone with either me or hubby, she’s a totally different girl, sweet and easy-going…but with the two other kids + a newborn, I just cannot spend alone-time with her during the day much more than I already do….I feel a little lost. Any ideas? thanks billions & I love your blog 🙂

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    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Thanks Mette. Mark and I highly recommend the book Shepherding a Child’s Heart. It’s the only parenting book other than the Bible that we will recommend.

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  13. Heather F.
    October 28, 2010 | 10:18 pm

    What a wonderful, practical, helpful post! Thanks for pointing me to the Camping book – I clicked right over and bought it and it’s excellent. Happy weekend!

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  14. Kathryn
    October 29, 2010 | 8:34 am

    If I can add my two cents (I hope that’s OK), The Complete Book of Christian Parenting & Child Care: A Medical & Moral Guide to Raising Happy, Healthy Children”

    By William and Martha Sears is a fabulous book and has some really great (as in helpful! practical!) info about discipline.

    http://www.christianbook.com/complete-christian-parenting-raising-healthy-children/martha-sears/9780805461985/pd/5461981?item_code=WW&netp_id=105127&event=ESRCN&view=details

    Definitely seems right in line with everything I’ve read on this blog too 🙂

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