The most important tip I have for keeping my sanity and enjoying my large family is to prepare, prepare, prepare! I believe I have three weeks worth of ideas in the department of preparation, so I'll break it up into three parts.
I've got to confess that my flesh is pretty weak. Anytime I see a young mom, and she wasn't at church the previous Sunday, I try to let her know I missed her. It really is completely in love, not at all judgmental, until...she says something like, "It's just so hard to get the kids ready on time," or "We overslept. Sorry." Then, I know my heart has a long way to go because my holier-than-thou attitude starts creeping into my thoughts. There's no need to apologize to me because I was able to enjoy myself in corporate worship whether or not that woman and her family were there. I know these are excuses because I get four children ready mostly by myself.
Here's the better thing to do. Rather than becoming prideful, I must teach younger women the tricks of preparing my children for worship. This is discipleship.
We begin preparing for Sunday morning long before we get up that day.
First, laundry is prepared during the week. Adult clothes are washed on Tuesdays here, and the kids' clothes get washed on Wednesdays and Saturdays. No major digging around to find what we need. The change of seasons sometimes means I may have to hunt on Saturday morning to pull out appropriate attire, but not usually.
Before the kids even get their baths on Saturday night, I have everyone's clothes hanging in one location. For me, that's the exercise bike sitting in our den. It's not pretty, but I know where the clothes are on Sunday morning. We can be even more prepared if I have the children pull out all of the right shoes the night before. If the season calls for them, I also find all of the tights we need.
Everyone gets a bath the night before and goes to bed on time. For us, that's 8:00 for the kids and 10:00 for mom and dad. No one is allowed to doze off during worship.
Iron all the clothes. I do this once the kids are in bed because it stresses me a little to have a large, hot iron (A.K.A. a death trap) on while my accident prone children are awake.
Pull out everything you need to fix hair and have a general idea of how everyone's hair will be fixed before retiring for the evening. I have three girls and love to fix their hair in as many different ways as possible. Women at church have asked me if I get up at dawn to fix their hair, but I try not to spend more than twenty or thirty minutes on all three heads of hair unless we just happen to have all kinds of free time once we get started. If you're new to doing hair, don't try something new the first time on a Sunday morning. At least practice first to have some idea of how long it will take, so you can plan accordingly.
Set the alarm clock if you need it. We can actually sleep in on most Sunday mornings, at least a little bit in comparison to weekday mornings. Our Sunday school starts at 10:00, two hours later than school for us.
Relax and enjoy the benefits of your preparation. Even with my preparations, things can still go wrong. Satan will try to spoil your best efforts. Don't let him win. Turn on some worship music to prepare your heart.
*Full disclosure: I have the benefit of living next door to our church. I know that helps! In the past year, I've not arrived to Sunday School on time except once! I let the baby sleep for his morning nap until the last minute, but only he and I ran late. When he dropped the morning nap, we were able to go to church on time again this past Sunday. Use your judgement. I believe a well-rested baby is a happy baby for nursery workers. With my first, I did set the alarm clock to wake earlier on Sunday morning so that she could get her nap out and still get to Sunday School on time.
Don't forget to read others' ideas at
And just in case, I can't get that button to work, here's the link to Raising Arrows.