6 ways to Survive 10-hour Good Friday Service with your little kids.
Updated: Apr 5
Good Friday is almost here! I personally don't feel the joy of the Feast of the Resurrection until I live through the Pascha week, then Good Friday and obviously end it with Apocalypse night.
Back in 2017, with my 3 year old I could barely enjoy a total of few hours of the entire Holy Week.
Every year after, and also now with my second daughter, I am determined to enjoy Holy week with them and hopefully, survive Good Friday together. Here are 6 things that I am planning to do that worked with me in the past. I hope they will also work with your family!
Go in with a new Mindset. It's OK if you don't enjoy the whole 10-hour service. You have little kids. They will not be this young forever. Soon they will grow older and you will be able to enjoy Good Friday again. For now, pick the best time for you and the kids to enjoy the service. This time frame of course includes your favorite prayers and the time when your kids will not be cranky, hyper, or whinny and can be occupied with the following 5 other ways to keep them busy.
Bring Food. Lots of it with Variety! It's obvious that you will pack some snacks but don't forget you are spending breakfast and lunch in church. And you don't want to make a quick trip to McDonalds in the middle of service either. So pack enough for two meals and lots of snacks because your kid will be a very picky eater on this day. Remind your kids to step outside of church when they're eating their snacks.
Pack your bag with little toys from #dollarTree or #99C store. I was shocked that my daughter would play for HOURS with $1 dollar toys and enjoy them more than the expensive toys. Make a visit to these stores and you will be surprised with the goodies you can get with just 10 bucks. Here are few items that my daughter loved to play with. We have also found a wonderful bible story collection: Bible games, Bible coloring Books, Pony with brush, puzzles, building blocks. I also add to the bag my daughter's dry erase activity book and Sacraments Quiet book that I have made for her. With the Help of Meritte Barhouma at Kids Christian Prints, I also have printable activity sheets suitable for Holy week and Good Friday. This year, we are adding our Philo and the superHolies Book series, and magnetic Coptic letters for my 8 year old so she can learn some of the Coptic words while listening to the chanted psalms.
Split care time with spouse and family members. Make a plan with your family members and spouse where you will split the hours of the service among yourselves so you can spend a few hours focused and praying without interruption while another family member is caring for the kids. (if you're the mom, HA! ya right! At least we can try)
Take turns with other parents to watch the kids. If you have a crying room and your child can't sit still in church, great! make a plan with other parents where each parent takes a turn watching all the kids playing in the crying room while the rest of the parents are praying inside church. It's important, however, that the child spends some time inside of church to experience the beauty of this day and to take the blessings of the prayers.
Finally, take frequent breaks. Hopefully this, will help the kids not get bored easily. If you decide to show up with your little kiddos that day, you’re already doing great! take it slow and deal with each situation gracefully as it approaches. Don't guilt trip yourself. We are all doing the best we can. I am sure God will be accepting our prayers no matter where we are.
May you have a blessed Holy Week and a joyful Feast of the Resurrection