Growing up, there was always something special about Sunday mornings. Before we kids would wake up, dad would load the vinyl record player with a stack of praise and worship music and we would wake up to praise and worship music setting the mood for Sunday mornings. (There were sometimes doughnuts for breakfast, too - a special Sunday morning treat!) In fact, Sunday mornings were so un-stressed that I often had time to sit at the piano and play hymns and choruses before we left for church!
Sunday mornings never seemed rushed or stressed when I was growing up and I'm trying very hard to re-create that environment for my children. I don't want them dreading waking up on Sundays because it's stressful, I want them to remember happy memories of Sundays, not a stressed-out mommy who's always scrambling to find socks, shoes, church money, etc.
So, preparation for us is done on Saturdays! (And no, it doesn't take me all afternoon - just a few minutes!)
First, I check fingernails and toenails and trim them as needed (this often happens on Friday evening at bathtime).
Second, I check Sunday's weather and decide what to dress my children (and myself!) in. Children's clothes, down to socks, are hung up on the hook on the back of their bedroom door (socks go in pockets or are clipped to hangers). My clothes are hung in the center of the closet, where they will be easy to get on Sunday morning.
Third, their backpacks are packed with the necessary items for nursery class (diapers and wipes, extra clothes if potty-training, etc). Those are hung in the center of their closet, along with their jackets/coats if needed. My purse is checked and re-stocked for Sunday morning with my Bible and sermon notes notebook.
Fourth, the "afternoon bag" is packed if we are going to grandma's. This holds extra diapers, an extra outfit (or two, or three, depending on child's needs) and a change of clothes for Sweetheart and myself, including play shoes. This is placed near the door, ready to add any medications, special blankies and lovies (necessities for nap)in the morning just before we head out.
There's no staying up late on Saturday nights for us... we have the opportunity to worship with our church family on Sunday morning, and we want to be rested and ready!
** This actually took me longer to TYPE than it takes me to do! **
I try to get up at least 1 1/2 hours before we have to leave. I usually start some praise music for everyone to get up to. While the little ones are eating breakfast, I get "dressed" (hair, make-up, underclothes, nylons, etc) to the point I am ready to put on my blouse/skirt or dress, then put my pj's on. (My little ones are still slightly messy eaters and they're still eating breakfast!)
After breakfast, the little ones are allowed to watch a Veggie Tale dvd or one of their music videos (videos of kids singing kids songs) while I do the breakfast dishes. I finish packing the afternoon bag, get them dressed to shoes, and we count out church money (which is put in an envelope in their church bag if they are with us for service.) I then quickly dress myself (which I can do super-quick because it's already selected), and we are OUT THE DOOR 45 minutes BEFORE Sunday School begins. Church is currently 30 minutes away, but that 15 minutes gives Sweetheart and I time to walk into church, check our little ones into their classes and make it to our class on time.
Sweetheart is a great help in all this, but on the Sunday mornings he is in the tech booth (he helps with the sound/light system) I have to do it on my own because he has to be there early. I can still do this on my own and be church on time! :)
What tips/tricks do YOU employ with your family to not only be at church on time, but prepared to worship?