A toddler watches a celebration event at church services. (iStock)

Some parents say that getting small children out of the house only to go to a stuffy, preachy church service is not worth the effort. But as a mom of four children under 10, including twin toddlers, I’ve come to appreciate those church outings. Here’s why.

  1. Sometimes I need a break. I love my kids. I love being a work-at-home mom.  But I am with these little people all the time. Bubbles. Boogers. Finger paints. Flu. Dancing. Diapers. Tickles. Time-outs. That is my life. I’m not complaining, but there’s no calling the coach to take me out of the game for a while. At church, well, it’s a mommy break. I can drop my kids off at the nursery and just … be. For just a little while, no one needs me.
  2. For me, there’s coffee. I like coffee. Sometimes I need coffee. At church, there is a fount of seemingly endless free coffee. Therefore I can drop the kiddos off and enjoy lots of coffee, without warming it up in the microwave a zillion times.
  3. For them, there are snacks. My kids get crackers at church. I don’t have to clean up cracker crumbs. Win-win.
  4. It’s free “socialization” for the kids. So I guess I am supposed to be worried about my toddlers getting enough time with other kids their own age. (Apparently the fact that they have each other doesn’t count.) I’ve looked into Gymboree and Kindermusik and the like, but have you seen the prices for those things? I’m a twin mom — I don’t have to be a math whiz to know that means double class prices for us. But there are other toddlers at church, and it’s free. Bam! Socialization. Nailed it.
  5. I get to wear real clothes. I’m not exactly the fancy type. Which is good because the church I go to isn’t a fancy place. I can totally go in jeans and Converse All Stars. But when my weekday wardrobe is stretchy pants and faded T-shirts, it feels nice to have a reason to put on real clothes. Sometimes I even wear a skirt and fix my hair. Maybe I am fancy.
  6. Adult music is nice. I may not know all the words to the hymns, but that doesn’t matter. The lyrics don’t contain any references to rowing boats or itsy-bitsy spiders. It’s nice to sip my coffee and listen.
  7. The ladies love ’em. Seriously, the ladies at church love my kids. They genuinely care. The older ladies spoil my kids like their own grandchildren, which is especially nice if biological grandparents are far away. And the nursery worker ladies — bless their hearts. They keep a dozen toddlers for an hour-and-a-half and they still love them at the end of it. I think they’re going straight to heaven.
  8. The kids take a good nap. Isn’t that a mom’s tried and true sign of a good day? The kids have been properly stimulated and just plain worn out from fun. Probably the “socialization.” My twins come home, eat lunch (if the ladies haven’t spoiled it with cookies) and then go right to sleep. Maybe I do too. Bliss across the board.
  9. There’s no judgment. I have never been frowned upon because I’m late. I have never been scolded if my toddlers act up. I have never been ignored because of my parenting choices. Honestly, that’s more than I can say of some mommy groups I know. I realize this is not a given at all churches. But it’s true at the church I go to. I’ve never been judged or compared or forced into some unspoken competition.
  10. I’ve made friends. True friends. Friends who cry and laugh together. Friends who brought me meals for six weeks when one of my kids broke his leg. Friends who drink beer and play games but also ask deep questions and make sure I’m okay emotionally. Friends who do life really well, but not perfectly. Friends who let me be me, let my kids be kids and truly love us in the process.

Melissa Richeson is a freelance writer in Florida.

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