Sunday Morning Chaos
This happens at your house too, right?
It’s Sunday morning. The kids all slept an hour later than they do any other day of the week. Spilled milk at breakfast has already resulted in at least one change of clothes. Your son’s shoe is missing. It’s nowhere to be found. Apparently it has evaporated into thin air. His backup pair is covered in mud. You have no choice but to allow him to wear his Buzz Lightyear slippers because the only alternative is to go barefoot.
You realize someone has smeared oatmeal on the only outfit that seemed to fit you this morning. You go back to change and realize there’s a run in your pantyhose. Then your daughter announces that she wants to wear her cowgirl hat. Just about the time you start to explain why she can’t, you look at the clock and realize you’re already fifteen minutes late.
I’m not sure what would happen next at your house, but I know how it usually goes down at mine. I loose my cool. I yell or I snap or I huff and puff (or do all of these at the same time). And then I scream something like “GET IN THE CAR IT IS TIME TO GO TO CHURCH AND LEARN ABOUT JESUS!”
By the time my kiddos arrive (late and poorly dressed) at Sunday School they’re already thinking about sin. Specifically my sin. My anger and my temper and my lack of self-control on Sunday mornings makes it difficult, and sometimes impossible for them to have ears to hear the message.
I realized this hard truth several weeks ago. My oldest, Eli, was having some trouble in the church nursery and as I thought and prayed about it, the chaos at our house most Sunday mornings came into clear focus. I talked to my husband about it and we decided to re-think the way we handle Sunday mornings. The next week we made several simple changes that made a huge difference.
1. We set out all of our children’s clothes the night before. We found clean shirts and pants in advance. We tracked down socks for each boy along with their shoes and we laid each complete outfit out in the living room so we’d have easy access to it the next morning. We also pre-packed the diaper bag. This step took us a total of five minutes. Had we waited until the next morning, it probably would have taken us much longer.
2. We set our own alarm clocks for an hour earlier. I know that it’s nice to sleep in a little on Sunday mornings, but I can’t tell you how much it helped to get up, take a shower, get myself ready, and drink an entire cup of coffee before my children woke up.
3. I gave myself permission not to focus on nutrition. I’m a big believer that breakfast is the most important meal of the day for my kids. I try to feed them yogurt or eggs or fruit most days. But as part of re-thinking Sunday mornings, I let them eat pop-tarts. This cut our breakfast time way down and reduced the risk for outfits being ruined by messy foods. Maybe it’s not the breakfast menu at your house, but I bet you can find a way to simplify your routine and eliminate potential battles.
4. We prayed about Sunday morning. I know that most of us pray at church on Sundays, but I never did much praying about Sunday morning. So I asked God to teach us how to prepare ourselves and our children to get the most out of the Sabbath.
5. We apologized to our kids. Here’s the simple truth, anger and yelling and a lack of self-control is never okay no matter how many shoes are lost or how late you are. So, we apologized to Eli for not managing the chaos at our house better and asked him to help us do better. He’s three, so I think he said something to the effect of “Okay. Can I go play baseball?” But it was still a good exercise in humility and accountability.
That’s it. Five simple steps, all of which take just minutes to execute. The result? So far, we’ve experienced very peaceful Sunday mornings, and Eli is doing much better in the nursery.
This simple discovery was just too good not to pass on. Which brings me back to you. Do you need to manage the chaos better at your house on Sunday mornings so that you and your kids can get the most out of the worship and teaching you receive at church? What simple steps can you take next Sunday as a family to sin less and worship more?
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