Tips for Mass with Kids Sometimes (often?) participating in Mass with small children who just want to move is an exercise in the virtue of patience. Here are some ideas to help everyone in the family enter in with 'full and active participation':
Mark Sunday as a special day Put some things in place to make the routine around attending Mass a highlight of the week. Have a special Sunday breakfast, do something with friends from Church to build relationships with other families, stay for morning tea after mass, pick up an icecream on the way home, whatever works for your family to say 'this is a special day'.
Try sitting up the front! It’s tempting to sit near the back so the noise doesn’t seem so loud and you can duck out unnoticed if you need to. However, the kids are much more likely to pay attention if they can see what is going on, rather than the backs of grown-ups heads.
Get reinforcements! Borrow a substitute grandparent, aunt, uncle or anyone. Ask some extra adults to sit with you and your children to help with minding them. For older kids, helping out with the little ones can help them engage and rise to the occasion as they set an example for the younger members of the community.
Engage! Talk to your children about what is happening e.g. ~ Whisper a summary of the Gospel for them as it's being read. ~ Point out special parts of the Eucharistic prayer e.g. this is the epiclesis. ~ Point out special objects e.g. ‘can you see the candles on the altar?’, ‘what colour is the priest wearing?’ ‘can you see the chalice and the paten?’, ‘can you see the cross?’ ~ See if your family can be involved in service at Mass, like bringing up the offertory gifts, or welcoming people.
Prepare and follow up! Sometimes a bit of preparation before Mass goes a long way. Even reading the readings yourself before Mass will help you be engaged even if you miss bits due to small distractions. ~ Read the gospel before Mass, and where you can, talk with the kids about it before Mass e.g. for the parable of the mustard seed, show them how small a mustard seed is, and google images of how big a mustard tree is. Or, tell them to listen out for when the priest talks about the Good Shepherd. ~ Do a quick google search about the Sunday gospel or the feast day to find activities or colouring sheets for the kids to do. ~ Take the opportunity to share with your family one way that Jesus touched you during the Eucharist.
Surrender If you find yourself standing outside week after week don't give in to discouragement! God is very big and He will find you there as you minister to your children. Just enter in as much as you can and trust in Him!