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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