Saturday, March 5, 2011

On Being Late for Mass

This is not an informational post.  This is a cry for help, and for advice from experienced parents.

Since my fourth child was born, I have been on time for Mass ONCE.  That was the week the kids were sick, the car was broken, and my husband and I split Masses and I only had to get myself ready and out the door.  I was 15 minutes early.  It was glorious.

The rest of time, Sunday is definitely an exercise in penance and humiliation.

I know many of my readers have more kids and have been where I am now. (My oldest is 7).  Lent is coming.  I need to make major changes and conquer this lateness problem.  (Mass isn't the ONLY thing we run late for, but it's the biggest thing, and the problem is worse because my husband and I are trying to leave the house at the same time, the kids can't eat breakfast in Church clothes, and because of the "two-in-diapers" issue, I cannot get dressed/showered TOO early, or I'll have to dress/shower again since diapers seem MORE likely to explode on me when I'm wearing nice clothes......)

Anyway, please! Help! Suggestions! 


Anonymous said...

Here's what I'd suggest:

1) No breakfast before mass. No breakfast before communion, and while they're too young for that, it's never too soon to learn. Give them some cereal in a ziplock bag as a snack if necessary - that's not too messy.

2) Put their clothes out the night before so there's no looking for anything in the morning.

3) Get up earlier and leave earlier.

4) Get rid of the kids altogether so they don't slow you down.

5) or, when all else fails, stop going to mass. You won't have to worry about being late if you don't go.

Deirdre Mundy said...

Hmmm... the no breakfast doesn't work, as we go to the 11 am Mass (most kid-friendly at our parish)-- So they really can't go until 12:30 or so without any food. The zoplock-bag-friendly breakfast may just work, though......

Red Cardigan said...

Deirdre, I wrote a long comment earlier today, but Blogger ate it, and I didn't have time to try again. I notice that Anonymous has covered a few things I had mentioned, but as mine were slightly different I'll mention them again anyway:

1. Snacky breakfast. If you're going to the 11 a.m. Mass, you can either do "normal" breakfast really early, or serve quick foods that aren't messy. Cheese and crackers or even lunch items might work.

2. I agree with clothes being selected the night before; I'd include shoes, hair accessories, etc., and clothes for grown-ups (I still pick out my outfit the night before!).

3. Know your times. It's easy to say "get up earlier and leave earlier," but that's kind of vague. I know, for instance, that we must be at church by 8 for last-minute choir stuff. So we have to leave our house by about 7:30. So I have to be up by 6. My first alarm goes off at 5:30, and then I have two alarms set for six so I won't hit the snooze on one and fall back asleep. When the girls were young, though, I needed at least two hours before departure time. If you leave your house by 10:30, I would be up by 8:30 at the latest.

4. Buy a housecoat or house dress! :) I had one for years (still have it, but the snaps wore out). You can shower quickly, get mostly dressed except for your actual dress/skirt/slacks outfit, and have your hair/makeup done. Then you wear the housecoat until after the last diaper-change, swapping it quickly for your outer clothes. I used mine a lot when the girls were little!

5. Simplify the morning wherever possible. Choose easy hairstyles, pack diaper bags the night before, shower the night before if possible, etc.

6. Divide and conquer! Make sure you and your dh are both responsible for some part of the morning rush, and communicate well about who's doing what. Give your 7-year-old a job, too, even if it's just wiping a toddler's face or helping the next youngest with shoes.

7. Make sure you allow ample time for getting into the car, getting seatbelts/carseats buckled, allowing for that last-second dash back into the house to get something or turn off lights or whatever. If your drive to Mass takes 30 minutes, for instance, make sure you are getting ready to get into the car about 45 minutes before Mass. Does it take 15 minutes to get everybody in the car? No, not usually--but assuming you want to arrive at church before the opening hymn, this helps create a "cushion" to ensure that you have time to reach the church, park, walk in, find a pew, and settle the little ones before Mass begins.

God bless! :) When ours were little I used to dread the Sunday Morning Dash. Now, my teens make sure our choir bags etc. are ready while my dh and I are getting ready for Mass. It's wonderful--and it will be for you, too, someday!

Anonymous said...

Do NOT buy a house coat. Don't even think about it. House coats are for 80 year old women.

julie said...

i second all others' suggestions about picking out outfits the night before and doing quick/easy/CLEAN breakfast foods.

raincoat or poncho to wear over your church clothes (or apron, if you don't want to feel altogether silly).

all showers happen the night before (including the parents').

incentives for kids for waking up on time.

teach anne how to use an alarm clock and wake cecelia.

come up with a very specific division of labor for you and hubby, so there's no "did you remember to?"

that's just my 2cents.

Anonymous said...

These are all great, but the thing is, if you aren't really determined to get somewhere on time, you won't. If church is within walking distance, it can't be that far. And if mass is at 11, there's plenty of time to wake up. The kids have probably been up for hours by the time it's time to leave. So it sounds to me like the problem is procrastination.

Anonymous said...

Here's a simple one: in your minds and on a posted schedule at your house, "change" the Mass times for your parish to one-half hour earlier than they really are. Done!

nat said...

"So it sounds to me like the problem is procrastination"

Sounds more like working at cross purposes and stirring the ocean with a sand shovel. I'd second anything that simplifies food, dress, and the last hour. Some good suggestions up above.

Don't know if this helps. But imagine diving into 2 separate groups to go to the same Mass. Now what needs to change to keep group 1 and group 2 from getting in each others way? Anything the minimizes tripping over the 2 eldest probably puts you on the part towards showing them the exact places they can positively contribute.

Red Cardigan said...

House coats are NOT for 80 year old women! ;)

I loved mine to death, and told my dh I want another one. There's nothing like being up and dressed with hair and everything done, but still be able to cook a meal or do a messy chore without having to get your decent clothes dirty.

Hefalumpum said...

My wife and I have the same problem. We've been getting a bit better though:

1. Wife showers early - before kids are awake, (or, if not possible see #2) then dons clean sweats until right before we leave.

2. I get down, eat, then relieve her of kid duties while she goes to shower. I finish feeding kids, do hair and teeth, then she dresses them while I shower and get ready.

3. Lastly she throws on her Church clothes while I do last minutes diaper changes, shoes, coats, bags of stuff, bibles, books, snacks for (little) kids and walk out the door.

4. She gets out the door same time I do. Sometimes I have the kids buckled and ready to go. We take one car so she does little make-up while I drive. (We have a half hour drive.)

5. No. No housecoat please. That is what sweats and even p.j's are for.

In the end, we do best when we are clock watching and calling each other out. "Hey! It's 9:17! Are you really going to read books now? You only have 8 minutes!" etc.

If all else fails, I speed about 30 mph over the limit. That may shave a couple minutes off your trip. (kidding!)

Anonymous said...

I agree that housecoats are not for 80 year old women! Geeze.

A lab coat works just fine, too. As does a sweat suit (though a coat makes it easier to have nylons & slip already on for mass).

Oh, my. The "sounds like procrastination" comment made me belly laugh. It most certainly does not sound like procrastination!

It may partly be, however, a re-arranging of priorities. I get OCD about little things and have to make myself do all the big things first. Such as--the coffee pot does not have to be rinsed out, little kid pjs do not have to be folded and put in their places, beds do not have to be made. It drives me crazy to leave certain things undone, but it can make the difference between being late or on time.

I have a Saturday night checklist on my dresser mirror. That includes organizing my purse with collection money, cell phone on top of my purse already turned on silent (so I can still see who has called but it is quiet in case I forget to turn it off), etc.

The girls also wear braids to bed Saturday night with a curler on the bottom to minimize tangles. Much easier to comb out the next morning and it looks wavy/curly once it is combed.

Anonymous said...

Same anonymous here as directly above.

Also on the topic of housecoats--don't laugh, but the best maternity wear ever are African dresses.

My girlfriend from Togo gave me one as a gift. Especially for a summer pregnancy, there is nothing like it. Super comfortable. Just make sure it has side or back slits so you can take a long stride.

SherryTex said...

Lots of good tips.

1) Find the children's mass. Go to it. (Ours is the vigil--which means everyone is already dressed and it's just loading the car). Have three options so you can make it. We do 5:30, 8:30 and split squad 1:00 and 5:00 but we have 10 so it is sometimes necessary.

2) Logistics --a well placed bribe --donuts or bagels after or pizza or ice cream after if it is vigil, gets kids in the car fast.

3) I never take the diaper bag out of the car. It always has diapers, wipes, snacks, outfits and a hair brush.

4) Buy a pair of cheap shoes for each of your kids that you use for back up when the normal pair is missing.

5) Sock bin and shoe bin. (They save sanity and time).

6) Set your cell phone to be your nag. Let it ring to tell you 30 mins, (Start loading car).

7) Have a spot for your keys, purse, phone, wallet, glasses, etc.

8) Lay OUT EVERYONE's Clothes, including socks, shoes, undies, etc. the night before. (This includes gloves and coats/hats if it is cold).

9) Resolve yourself to the fact that it will take two trips to load the car. Because it will, now that I have four small ones at home, it again takes two trips to load them in their car seats.

priest's wife said...

great tips! This is what we do-

set out church clothes (everything- undies, socks, shoes, etc) and put on windowsill in living room. kids change in downstairs bathroom and put pjs on windowsill when they are changed- setting out clothes in their rooms can backfire because socks tend to drift

2. We have 11:30 Liturgy with at least an hour drive to get there- so sometimes I actually cook eggs for breakfast- or we eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on the way to church.

3. because Sunday liturgy is pretty late, we say our 'rosary for the bishop' on the way to church.

4. Big girls (11 and 10) are in charge of the baby bag for the 3 year old boy and 1.5 year old girl (change of clothes, diapers, wipes, sippy cups, snack for after church

5. EVERYTHING that needs to get to church is put into the van when I am thinking of it- bulletins, non-perishable food for after church, etc. other wise- a big note is put on the fridge for other stuff (the crockpot filled with food, etc) that needs to be put in the van right before we leave.

and the first anonymous commenter who (jokingly?) said stop going to Mass- don't stop going to Mass!!! BUT you might try finding help to go to one daily Mass a month with NO kids. THAT is glorious, let me tell you :)

Anonymous said...

The "don't go to mass" was a joke - I wrote that. Here's another one - follow Colbert's lead and give up being Catholic for Lent (he instead became Jewish, then as a Jewish person gave up not eating bacon for Lent).

I think the commentors who say keep a watch on the time are right. I know that I have to be at work by a certain time every morning, and some days I get up late. So I skip things if necessary (washing my hair - I put it up, putting on makeup, making coffee) so that I can get there on time. Surely the same concept can be applied to going to mass, despite having to corral a zillion kids. Maybe the key difference is that there are no consequences for being late to mass. I face consequences for being late to work.

Ranting Catholic Mom said...

The only way I get my guys to church on time is to get ready earlier than everyone else. I tell them all that we are going to 9:30 Mass. If we are in the car 15 minutes in advance, we make it. If not, I put on an apron and make breakfast. so shoot for an earlier time, pack the snacks in the car the night before, and God bless.

Anonymous said...

I continue to maintain that housecoats are for 80 year old women. Just because some women who are not 80 wear them does not change anything. Being married and/or having kids is not an excuse to let one's self go. Everyone mother should strive to be a MILF.

Bernadette said...

This isn't advice, but your post made me smile. I'm the 4th of 11 children, and I think my family made it on time to Mass maybe... twice. I think. Plus, the priest at our parish had asked us to sit in the front pew (such a nice Catholic family, you know!) so Mom always headed straight for the front pew no matter when we were coming in, sometimes going straight down the main aisle. As a kid I was mortified, but it's made me much less bashful about things like saying grace in public places, etc.

I would like to say that I don't remember ever eating breakfast before Mass on Sundays, and we went to the later Mass too (11, I think). Only the very youngest sometimes got a few Cheerios. The rest of us were expected to wait until brunch.

Shawna said...

I feel your pain. I think it took me my 4th or 5th child before I realized I needed to tack on an extra 30 minutes to prep time every time there's a new baby.
There are so many good tips. I may have missed this one, but I have my makeup, hair and jewellery on before I get dressed. All clothes are laid out the night before including mine (including SOCKS - hate the organizing of socks, so if someone has tips on that, please share) so after all are fed I dress. Each of our big kids have partners. They are responsible for helping the littles get dressed and fed. Your 7 yo might enjoy a bit of responsibility. Praying for you ;)

Red Cardigan said...

Good grief to the anonymous commenter who used the acronym I had to Google and then had to click away so my kids wouldn't read the "F" word on my screen.

No, I don't think Christian women should try to be "MILFs." Besides, you've totally missed the point of a housecoat. It's like a glorified robe, only instead of putting on your undergarments, doing your makeup and hair, and then swathing yourself in a giant layer of heavy terrycloth in the form of a bathrobe while you get the kids ready (esp. in TX in spring!) you can put on this much lighter-weight thing that comes off in an instant so you can put on your real clothes *after* the last diaper explosion/spit-up incident.

You do *not* wear the housecoat out in public, just like you shouldn't wear pajamas out in public (not that people aren't doing that anyway, but still).

It's actually a lot like a lab coat--except that those are usually glistening white, which is not the most practical color to wear while dealing with the diaper explosions and spit up incidents. Although they can be bleached, which is a plus.

The whole point is: don't stay in your pajamas until two minutes before it's time to leave and then rush to put on undergarments and clothes and makeup and do your hair all at once. Do all of that except the final layer of clothes beforehand, and then toss on the housecoat/robe/lab coat/yoga wear/filmy negligee (just kidding about that one--c'mon, the several-babies-in-diapers stage of motherhood is NOT the 'look like a Hollywood actress even in p.js' stage of motherhood, as anyone with a handful of intact brain cells realizes!) to deal with the children's needs--then, when you get that "two minute warning" all you have to do is toss on your Church outfit and check the mirror for hair smoothing and blueberry buckle spatters on the face before diving out the front door.

MILFs, indeed. How about MWAOTFTWLTF, instead (Mothers Who Are On Time For Things Without Looking Totally Frazzled)?

Kim said...

In addition to everyone else's ideas, here are a few from our house:

1. Go for Saturday vigil Mass. It's okay, really!

2. This great recipe saves my life on days when we have to get out of the house very early:
It's ready when you wake up; all you have to do is scoop the servings into the kids' bowls at the set-the-night-before table.

3. Wear simple jewelry that you can sleep in (plain pearl earrings and a watch?). This works all the time--not just on Sundays.

4. Wake up 30 mins earlier than you think you need to. (Of course, this works all the time too.)

5. An apron or lightweight robe would work similarly to a housecoat, without the controversy. :)

6. Mom gets herself and the baby ready; Dad does everything else. Never tried this one myself, but you never know!

7. Remember to *pray* for your family to be on time to Church. Of course! So far, it's working great for getting me up earlier on Lenten schooldays!

Anonymous said...

So Deirdre, are you going to make it to mass on time tomorrow?

Red Cardigan - why can't Christian women strive to look hot (which is not asynonym for whore)? I wonder if Christian husbands realize that before they get married. Guess they figure it out eventually. And then their eyes begin to wander. Even Christian men make mistakes, y'know. Look at the good Senator Edwards.