Friday, February 1, 2013

Sunday Morning Madness

Because I can attribute my grand return to writing to a conversation started with a friend … I decided to start with that today.  How do I get a family of six out the door and to church without loss of limbs or sanity?  Well … that, my dear friends, is a good story – with a bit of backstory.

It is important that all of you know that I never intended on being a part of a church children’s ministry.  Yet, somehow over time, I ended up there.  First it started with me washing sheets for the infant room, then I succumbed to loving on the tiny babies, then I would fill in as a helper for the preschool teachers IF they were short-handed … so on and so on.  Today, I am an assistant to the amazing husband and wife team that run our children’s ministry, I teach the elementary kids, and I’ve even started writing curriculum – something that was so far beyond my ability to fathom doing, I would have demanded a drug test had you suggested it to me.  Another tidbit of knowledge for this story is that my husband is a part-time custodian at our church, and is also in the rotation for the tech team.  Between the two of us, we end up at church early, are there for both services, and stay about an hour or so after – on average, we are at church for about 5-ish hours on any given Sunday.

So the conversation with my friend, D, went something like this … We were discussing the shortage of volunteers in the children’s ministry, and I shared my very huge frustration that so many of our peers won’t volunteer with the kids because it is just too hard to get their own kids out the door on a Sunday morning.  I can go on to write a huge diatribe about why this really does frustrate me, and maybe I will some other time.  For now, it is a peeve that I’m trying to find better ways to handle, and I absolutely understand that sometimes people really do have major reasons for not volunteering, and I *totally* get that.

All of that to say, D asked me how I’m able to get my four kids up and out the door on Sunday mornings to get to church by 7:30 without losing what is left of my sanity.  (And I assure you, there is precious little left up there.  We must tread very very lightly.)  So here are a few handy dandy tips that I’ve picked up over the years that help me.

~ Breakfast - Obviously, if your family follows a specific diet, some of these suggestions will have to be thought through a little more carefully, we don’t have any dietary restrictions, so this is just what we’re able to do.  I have friends that wake up and make full breakfasts for their families – bacon and eggs, pancakes, biscuits and gravy … don’t get me wrong, these are all awesome, just not practical for us on a Sunday. 

          Solution:  Making muffins on a Tuesday morning?  Make 2 dozen instead of 1.  Have nothing to do on a rainy Saturday afternoon?  Bake up loaves of bread, lots and lots of muffins, mounds of biscuits.  Consider a monthly pancake assembly line.  Healthier options include gluten-free recipes for any of the above, and mixing up tons of eggs (sans yolk if you need to) and microwaving them.  Take all of the above, divide up by serving size, place in your favorite storage container, and throw in the freezer.  Serving can be done any number of ways: taking them out on Saturday night so they’re thaw in the morning (except for the eggs, obviously), throw them back in the oven, or nuke them in the microwave.  I like to take the eggs and throw them on a biscuit with a slice of cheese.  Bonus points for “car foods” for those mornings that none of the planning ahead works and you’re still running late.  Breakfast is the last hurdle we jump before going out the door, if we need to take it with us, it is no problem.  Can’t find the time to cook ahead?  I have been known to buy a box of doughnuts or package of muffins from the grocery story bakery on a Saturday to save myself a step. 

To Nekkid or not to Nekkid – THAT is the question:  Ever gotten up on a Sunday morning only to find that your laundry protest on Saturday has led you to having nothing to wear to church?  Yeah … I’ve been there.  Nothing like your newly-trained three-year-old screaming that he’s out of Thomas Big Boy Pants to get a case of the grumpies.  Have teenagers that try on 14 outfits and throw them on the floor - only to be kicked into the dirty clothes for you to wash again?  Oh how I hate that!!

          Solution: Obviously, there are different ways to handle this depending on how old your kids are.  For my older kids, I suggest that they decide what they’re going to wear to church before Saturday, that way they won’t grab it during the week and wear it, and then be frustrated because it isn’t clean by Sunday.  For the Littles, when I’m folding laundry during the week, I’ll set aside a complete outfit.  Fluffy gives me input, but Sir Smiley doesn’t really care – yet.  I know lots of families that set their clothes out the night before, but if we’re doing something fun on Saturday, I may not want to take the time, or might forget.  If it is done earlier in the week, I don’t have the extra stress.

Got Stuff? – We have a lot of stuff that we take with us to church: Bibles, notebooks, anything I might be working on for children’s church, and sometimes all kinds of other stuff. 
Solution:  I have found that making sure that each kid has their own bag to transport stuff in is the easiest path.  This is the one thing we do on Saturday nights.  The kids make sure that their bag is on the table by the door, so all they do is grab it on their way out.

Did you notice a common theme?  PLAN AHEAD.  Anything that you don’t have to do on Sunday morning helps clear the way for a quick transition.  Another helpful hint?  TEAMWORK.  You can’t do it all by yourself – figure out a rhythm that works best for everyone and stick with it.  And finally?  DON’T GIVE UP!!  It might take a few weeks to get into the swing of it, and even then there could be a fever or shattered coffee cup that might throw you off track – but keep going!  I promise, it will all come together in the end!

So all of that to say that getting fluffy bunnies in order so that you can get out of the house on a Sunday morning can be really easy – it just takes a little bit of thought and knowing your family.  Hopefully, some of these tips will help you out this week!

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