Top 3 busy Mom tools for LENT
Let's face it: you don't have to be a mom to be busy. These days it seems everyone is just too preoccupied with all of life's demands. But add on the activities, sports, and other demands of motherhood, and it feels like every night, you don't just get into bed - you crash.
So it's no wonder that families oftentimes feel overwhelmed at the thought of even going to Mass, let alone, participate in an intentional Lent.
I'm here to say that I totally feel you. When my kids were little, preparing to go to Mass felt like we were preparing for a weeklong camping trip with animals. Food - check, portable potty: check, entertainment - check, entertainment for when the other entertainment doesn't work - check, stroller - check, baby carrier for when stroller isn't good enough and makes baby cry - check...
Then there's the preparation that happens ever since you schedule their feedings the night before, so that hopefully, there are no insane outbursts or awkward feeding time frenzies during Mass...
And add on the anxiety of the unknown. Because in the end, you are entering a jungle, folks. There are people who will smile at your baby. Then, albeit a minority in my experience, there will be those that are annoyed the minute they see your disheveled posse enter the pew, stroller and all. They know. They just know it. There will be insanity, crying, and shushing throughout Mass.
I've been there. Then they tell you there's a crying room. Some crying rooms are great, where parents actually let their babies cry, but encourage their toddlers to behave. But there are some crying rooms that have become kid playgrounds where parents even let their older ones go crazy, talk and play. I feel a cry room is for babies. Yet there will be some people who go in there with no babies, and get upset when your baby goes full-on tantrum. So even then, you are stressing out to quiet the storm!
It's not easy. I get it. So here are some tips to at least stay in touch with Lent, as you heroically manage Mass time and get almost nothing from it, because you were too busy with your monkey children to have one moment of prayer or listen-in on homily. It's ok, you are doing something way too important: you are bringing those little ones to Mass!
Just like we take our kids to school because we know it's good for them, you are conditioning them for a lifelong journey of faith, which is so much more important. Did that old lady stare you down? Don't worry - for every person that stares you down, I've had 5 give my kids stuffed animals, or compliment them on their behavior, years down the line because they have grown accustomed to and enjoy Mass. I'm not saying they cheer up and down - I'm saying they know it's just "what we do". We brush our teeth every morning. We eat breakfast. We go to school. We work. We bathe. We go to Mass.
But what about your spiritual development? Don't worry, God's got your back because He will not let you fall while doing His will to bring your children closer to Him. But to help you out, there are some tools that might help.
Here are my top 3 favorites:
1) Word on Fire Podcast with Bishop Barron
Seriously. This is the best podcast. You learn so much - in fact, He has a Sermons podcast so that in little moments, you can listen, pause, listen again, pause, and so forth. Get a little bit of that good Catholic teaching in your mind and in your heart. He does not water down the message either. Powerful, compelling, and a light for every person who has ever questioned or doubted their faith. This is not your old CCD teaching. It's alive and "on fire!"
2) iBreviary app for mobile devices
This is a wonderful guide for daily prayer and the readings for every day in Mass. Doesn't mean it replaces Mass, because as we all know, Mass is about joining as one family - one body - in Christ. But for when you want to know what was read, the readings are there, and the Liturgy of the Hours - a psalm-based prayer of worship and thanksgiving - is updated everyday for easy reading. In fact, you can even turn on the reader and a voice reads it aloud so you can pray along while, say, washing dishes, driving, or even working out.
3) Catholic Moms groups
I don't know about your particular parish, but many now have moms groups to help support each other and even have childcare during their meetings. Mine would meet once a month, and it was really nice to see them at Mass too, as we would exchange the all-knowing, "...I feel ya'" glances during kid moments. Those moms reminded me we are all on the same side, and there for one another.
So to all my Catholic Moms and Dads - don't feel like you have to give up your spiritual development and relationship with Christ along with your Church family, just because you've got those cute little bundles. Will there be a sort of desert of tiredness and lack of self-care? Agreed, there will be. But hopefully these little tips and words of encouragement will help you out. Hopefully, after this Lent, even if it's just a little more intentional than the year before, we can truly experience the joy of Easter with our families, and our kids can SEE it - bear witness - to the thriving faith of their parents.
Because we are all doing more than just instill good moral values - religion is so much more than that. We are actively working to instill faith, hope and love for Jesus - a radiant, active and vibrant Catholic lifestyle for our children. But, as all parents know from personal experience, everything worth doing, is going to be a challenge...
So go for it! You can do it! And - you won't regret it.
God bless you and those littles. I admire you, and send all my love!