Gone are the days when Mass was a relatively peaceful time, holding a sleeping baby throughout the service and praying he doesn't wake up in the middle of it...
Mass with a little one is hard enough, but because Josh works in the restaurant industry, I frequently solo-parent at church. Whether you're flying solo or are blessed with a co-pilot, I have a few tips and tricks tucked in my diaper bag. I try to maintain a minimalist approach even to this by maximizing on things that are long-term entertainment for such a short attention span. It isn't about the amount of stuff you have on hand, but the usefulness of it.
My little guy loves books that have photographs of other babies in them. Similar to little ones who really enjoy their own reflection, looking at the images of other babies is also incredibly entertaining. I can make it through an average homily with two books featuring some of the cutest little babies!
We're caught up in the teething terror stage of life and nothing prevents unnecessary shouts like something for him to put in his mouth. We have this great teething toy by Nuby that has several different textures that he can bite on and rub on his gums. It's a popular little tool to pull out, especially when he's trying to chew on my shoulder.
Although we still aren't the best with our cups, the general game of just trying to drink water out of cup is just so fun! It also functions as another chew toy. He loves playing with his cup or my camelback-style water bottle. I generally have both tucked in my bag and can switch them out to keep him engaged with one or the other.
We've recently discovered the wonders of containers and what they hold. Just allowing him to dig through the bag and discover what I had put in there for him, such as a blanket, a texture-toy, rattle, car keys, or whatever else. Zippers, snaps, and straps hanging off of the bag also provide great distractions!
Keep patience in your back pocket throughout this. Unfortunately, church with a little can be embarrassing and frustrating. But the reality, church is a collection of people all in different seasons of their lives, including this one. Do not let others make you feel small because you are actively pursuing Christ with your little ones in tow. Jesus asked for the little ones to be brought to Him and that is still true today. Have patience and love for those around you who make you feel small or criticize you; take comfort that God wants you there, just as you are, even with your very loud little baby.
And of course, you can always start off your Mass with an intercession through Mother Mary to help support you during the Mass. I'll be praying for you mama.
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I've talked several times about minimalism and getting rid of things, but I have to admit that there are several things I cannot live without; things that my life easier and much more enjoyable. Luckily, minimalism does not have any hard and fast rules. Most important is that whatever you own, you need and want. If you don't need or want it, don't keep it. It is just important to be mindful, so that you are aware of why you even have the things you have
1.) A Delay Brew Coffee-Maker
There was a time period that we did not have one of these, and as much as I love the quality of French press coffee, the joy of waking up to coffee cannot be explained. It really makes the morning easier and removes several steps from my morning. The trick is to remember to load it the night before.
2.) My Kindle
Specifically, with a library app downloaded. I love the ease of just quickly checking out and downloading whatever I want to read next at 2 am while feeding the kiddo. I think this is an option of several different kinds of tablet-style devices. I've been able to even check out certain required texts for classes.
3.) A Water Bottle (with a straw)
Somehow putting a straw in the water helps me to drink is so much faster. Which means I drink more. This also helps avoid unnecessary waste from disposable cups or bottles. I couldn't stay as hydrated as needed to breastfeed or just stay healthy if I didn't carry a water bottle throughout the day.
4.) Ball caps
Ah. Baseball caps. Not only do they decorate the back of my bedroom door, but they also prevent bad hair days, rough mornings becoming more rough, and sunburns. They are my go-tos for a day's accessories, especially on a day where my hair may need to washed...