Shabbat mornings have become an increasing quandary for me. I know it would be good to take the kids to shul, especially the girls who are already 4 and 6. I have memories of going to shul with my father, playing with my friends, sitting on his lap for kriat hatorah. However, since we haven't really found a shul that we're all comfortable in, it's kind of hard to swing that. My husband goes to a local Israeli minyan, but the girls don't like going with him because they don't have friends there. The shul where they have friends is not really comfortable for my husband (too Anglo). So, occasionally I've taken them to the park near the Anglo shul where they have friends, so they can socialize and I can see some of my friends and then we meet up at home for kiddush and lunch. I've tried to take them into shul myself and it always ends in disaster. It's just too hard to manage the three of them myself.
Usually, I'm just lazy, and the girls happily play their elaborate pretend games in their room, which usually involves every costume and plastic food item we own, Eli gets cereal crumbs all over the house and I make it 3/4 of the way through my latest New Yorker. Very spiritual for all involved...
This week, I decided to make a change. I made everyone get dressed (the above homebound scenario occurs in pajamas). We cleaned up the living room and we did tefillat yeladim at home. Avital, my oldest, was our chazanit. We used her old gan siddur. I had her lead from what she knew from gan and school and Tehilla and I followed along. Eli came with a bencher and answered amen where it was and wasn't appropriate. We went through the brachot and did a lot of hand motions. And then I added some Shabbat related tefilot. I taught them the first line of El Adon and we sang v'Shamru from Shemoneh Esreh. And then we did Birkat Hachodesh and davened really hard for a good month. We all really enjoyed it. I'm sorry we didn't start this sooner, but, better late then never.
And then, in fine tefillat yeladim tradition, we ended the session with a treat. Bittersweet chocolate, because that's all I had. It's no toffee, but, at least they've developed a taste for it.
How do you handle shul and kids?