Sunday, July 21, 2013

WIWS, My thoughts on cry rooms and a blog every day for a week

So, Jen at Conversion Diary put forth a challenge to bloggers to blog every day for a week.  Since, I already try to post at least 4 or 5 days out of  7, I figure that it shouldn't be too hard for me to blog all 7 days...right?  So, I'm in...a post a day for an entire week.  I know you all are simply thrilled to be reading more drivel. 

And, then Kendra at Catholic All Year put a link-up about cry rooms and since I am totally a joiner, I'm hopping on that bandwagon and putting my 2 pennies in.   Kendra thinks they should be filled with cement.
Me...I think they can be used appropriately in certain situations.   

Here's why. 

Kendra writes this:
I've never been inside one where families were making an attempt to participate in the Mass. I have experienced children loudly playing with baskets of noisy toys and parents chatting in full voice about their plans for the weekend.

This, however, has NOT been my experience.  Maybe, it's different parts of the country, or different areas or something, but that just hasn't been my experience.

Now, let me say, that of the churches we have attended regularly, I would say that at least 50% of them didn't have a cry it wasn't even an option.  I think a lot of the older churches don't have them...and in my experience, the older churches tend be a bit more...traditional and we tend to gravitate towards attending those churches.  

Also, my children are spaced 2 2/3 years, 3 1/3 years and 4 1/2 years since becoming a parent 11 years ago, there have been several periods of time where we simply had no use for a cry room, so I didn't really pay attention to what they were like.

All that is to say that my cry room experience may be much more limited than that of other parents.

In my opinion/experience a cry room is generally only appropriate for kids between 12 months and maybe 2 or 2 1/2.  There are exceptions...I do have a few friends with children that honestly weren't really able to sit still during Mass until age 4 or 4 1/2 and in those cases, the child, in question, did have an "issue" (ie. sensory integration disorder or something) there are children who may reach that milestone later.

But, generally (as in for all my kids), babies less than 12 months are usually content enough being held/nursed/fed either sitting in the pew or being held/walked along the back of church (a sling can make that SO MUCH easier).   By age 2 1/2, I think many kids are developmentally able to sit through Mass, with maybe the aid of a few (preferably religious) books to look at.  At least my children have been.  However, the period of time between about 12 months and 2 or 2 1/2 is REALLY, REALLY hard for Mass behavior, with the worst being between 14 and 22 months.  I think developmentally, young toddlers just aren't there yet...they have a really, really, really hard time sitting still or being held when they want to get down and they just aren't developmentally able to understand consequences or rules the way an older child is.   So, in those cases, I think a small, enclosed room where they child can walk around and quietly look at books while the parent prays along/follows the Mass can be very helpful.

And, we HAVE been in cry rooms where that is exactly what happens.  The child is is happy to have a small amount of freedom and the parent can pray along/still follow the Mass.

So, in that vein...I've come up with some rules/guidelines that we tend to follow when using cry rooms so that our children still learn to behave at Mass and by age 2 1/2 or so.

1. Only use the cry room as a last resort.  We never just go and sit in it right off the bat.  We usually can get through the first 20-30 minutes or so of Mass by nursing (my kids all nursed until age 3...which is partly why they are spaced a bit further...I'll probably write a post on that later this week), looking at books and playing with quiet toys.  So, we do lots of nursing of toddlers and then quiet books and only when things get really bad do we take them in a cry room.

2. Only 1 parent and the child who needs the cry room sit in it...we try not to take older kids that developmentally don't need it, into the cry room.

3. If possible, attend an earlier Mass, where the cry room is likely to be less crowded (or not at all).   I think that is probably the number one reason why I haven't really experienced the crazy cry rooms with the parents talking about their weekend plans.  In my experience, cry rooms are less crowded (and hence less crazy) at an 8 AM Mass, versus at a 10 AM Mass, and I generally prefer to attend a bit earlier, so I would say that most of the time we've been in a cry room, there has been at most 1 other parent/child in it.   And, most of the time, the parent is quietly following along and the child is maybe quietly playing.  And, many times, we are the ONLY ones there..which is even better!

By generally following these rules (there have been exceptions) we've managed to make judicious use of cry rooms with young toddlers and still managed to teach our kids how to sit still and make it through Mass by age 2 1/2 or so.

And, now, since I know you are just dying to know what I wore is my Sunday outfit...linking up with FLAP for this one. I have no clue why it's such a weird angle, other than the fact that my photographer was being silly. 

The shirt is from Wal-mart.  The skirt and shoes were given to me.  The belt is SUPER old...(like maybe from high school) and I found it when I was going through some things.  Anyway, certain bloggers (namely Rosie and Laura) have gotten me interested in wearing belts..but I'm never quite sure how to wear them.  I'm always afraid that if I wear it too high (like right under my breast) it makes me look I tend to go for wearing it around the hips.but I'm not sure if that's the best.  And, I'm not sure if this belt really adds much to this outfit...but I had just found it and was excited to try it.

So, any belt-wearing tips?

As for Mass behavior goes...Elsa..who is 10-months and quickly approaching cry-room needing stage, gets a C-.  Ben had to take her out into the narthex...where she proceeded to eat a holy card and then when she came back in, she played the I want Mommy, No, I Want Daddy, No, I Want Mommy, No, I Want Daddy game.   Everyone else doesn't get graded, because they are old enough to always get an A. 
And, I think this is my longest, WIWS Sunday post ever.  So, bravo if you made it to the end. 
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  1. Thanks for linking up. I think your rules are spot on!

  2. I think I agree with you re: cry rooms. Our parish is kind of unique in that there are too many kids to fit in a cry room, so the whole narthax is used as a cry room. The year Girl 1 was 2-3, she was so loud and rambunctious we couldn't even keep her there. We went to different masses, but we're back to going all together now. Anyhoo, I like the belt! the belting takes some experimentation, and I found this helpful:

  3. I agree with your rules about cry rooms, and that's basically what we try to follow. At our parish, there is even a sign in the cry room that says only one parent and the child that needs it should be there! But I have seen whole families just camp out there, and I always feel like they are detached from the mass when I'm back there. I don't hear many people doing responses or singing, so I am not a fan. But it's nice to have.

  4. Oh man cry rooms are so frustrating to me - it seems that in parishes that have them, they're misused. And in parishes that DON'T have them, I wish they DID because we're prime candidates for the cry room right now! Mostly I just wait outside in the lobby peeking through the crack in the door and wishing the doors were glass but glad they aren't because then everyone could see Cecilia being totally crazy and refusing to stay still...

    Anyway, with belts I usually go with a thick or thin belt around my natural waist, which means nursing has to happen from the top-down, so I usually have a scarf ready to go because pulling down a shirt to nurse always makes me feel super-awkward with nothing to cover me! I think the belt you're wearing is perfect for a low-waist placement through actual belt loops - Laura's link is awesome for guidelines! I think a belt can make a huge difference in an outfit!


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