I don’t want to brag, but if getting kids ready for church in the morning was an Olympic sport, I would own a million gold medals.
If it were the Grammy’s, I wouldn’t have to rush the stage like ODB from the Wu Tang Clan to grab the mic from Shawn Colvin and yell, “Wu Tang is for the children,” because I’d already be up there accepting an award.
If it were the Oscars, I’d have a veritable army of bald headed golden men marching across my mantle.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, “I’m good at getting my kids ready for Sunday School.”
I wasn’t always though. I used to fumble my way through the morning, duplicating efforts with my wife, putting on shoes backwards and creating pony tails that jutted out from odd angles off the side of my daughters’ heads like lighthouses made of hair.
But can you blame me?
For some reason, every kid on the planet is wired to go crazy on Sunday morning. They might have been beacons of joy and helpfulness and flexibility all week, but come Sunday morning they turn into slippery little spider monkeys who are determined to make you late to church.
So what’s my secret? How did I become a ninja of Sunday School getting readiness?
Simple, I mastered these 5 steps:
1. The Pre-Game
You know Sunday is coming. It’s been in the same spot on the calendar for as long as you’ve been alive, so don’t act surprised when your head pops off that pillow and you think, “Oh no, I have to get the kids ready today.” Pre-game the night before. Lay out bowls and clothes and shoes. Make sippy cups the night before. (I can’t wait to retire the words “sippy cup” and “tinkle” from my vocabulary.) Prepare before the day actually arrives so that you’re ready for the storm.
2. Sell it to your kids
One of your biggest jobs as a parent is to play the role of studio audience or laugh track. In the same way that a studio audience will laugh on cue to let viewers at home know it’s time to find a particular scene in a show funny, your job is to back up whatever your husband or wife says with raucous enthusiasm. Here’s what it looks like in my house:
My wife: “L.E. and McRae, aren’t you excited about Sunday School?”
Me (Immediately after she says that): “Yay Sunday School! You’ll get to see all your friends and have goldfish and make a craft. Yay!”
Before they have a chance to even think about putting up a wall of resistance I piggyback what my wife has said, adding details, amping up the excitement, laughing on cue if that’s what the moment requires.
3. Hustle them to the bathroom like a SWAT team.
I can’t prove this, but I think my children have entered into a silent pact with each other to see who can use the bathroom the least amount of times in any given week. Roughly 72% of my creativity/energy at home is expended trying to convince them to use the bathroom. So, to avoid this “no bathroom liberation front” my wife and I try to shuffle our kids to the bathroom as soon as they wake up. Before they can give each other a secret handshake or a head nod and remind each other “viva la revolucion” we’ve grabbed them right out of bed like a SWAT team and marched them into the bathroom.
4. Distract them with stories.
It took me years to learn this, but if I want to get my kids to do anything, and this is for those rare times when they are refusing to instantly follow my Godly, fatherly advice as the leader of the house, I’ll tell them a story. It usually involves an animal. And the plot unfolds as they acquiesce to what I need them to do. For instance, “And do you know what your grandfather did with that bullfrog when he brought it home? Go ahead and take another bite of Cheerios and I’ll tell you.”
5. Use a series of aerobic moves to get them dressed.
Is it lying if you tell your kids that you want to see how high they can raise their hands in the air just so that you can slip a dress over their head? Is it lying if you made getting on tights a jumping contest in which you bounce them on the couch as high as you can all the while pulling the tights up? Is it lying if you make putting on shoes a fun race? I hope not, because otherwise, I’m a wicked huge liar.
On most Sundays my wife and I are the first couple to drop our kids off at Sunday School when the classrooms open. Then we go sit in the sanctuary for 20 minutes and have a “mini date.” After all, they play Coldplay songs through the loudspeakers before church starts, we sometimes have a coffee with us and we get to have 20 unadulterated minutes of hang out time. It’s the little things.
How about you?
Do you have any tricks you use to get your kids ready for Sunday School?
Any horror stories you want to share?