I don't know if I've ever said this before... Lent went by so quickly this year. I cannot believe that today is Lazarus Saturday. I didn't have a perfect Lenten conversion. I still have some things to work on, but I think by God's grace I have made some strides to renewing my faith and growing closer to God. This has been the best Lent yet for me, which makes me all the more excited about what lies ahead.
Before we know it, we'll be running into Holy Week. Despite having small children, we have never been ones to skimp on Holy Week Services. Some years I have cracked under the pressure of glares from disapproving factions who want complete silence in the church and left a service early. However, although it's exhausting, I've found that attending the many services of Holy Week makes the joy of the Paschal Liturgy even better. Many years my girls have been wide awake and bubbling over with glee well into the wee hours of the liturgy while adults in the congregation, who were notably missing most of the week, were waning.
So, how does one survive Holy Week with children? I have an arsenal of tools. Not everything works every time, so this is key. I have a "church bag" that I bring to all of the services. It includes some of our usual church aids, like a variety of religious books (including liturgy books), laminated icon cards and patron saints booklets, prayer rope, a little silver cup for holy water, a small snack for the toddler, and a divine liturgy puzzle that Yaya likes to use to countdown to the end of liturgy. For Holy Week, I add an icon coloring book and crayons to the bag because it is an activity that keeps their attention a little longer. Finally, I add a small pillow and blanket just in case. This is usually pointless for me because when my kids are out the last thing they want to do is sleep and miss something, but I have had the occasional miracle of sleep overcoming them.
My last strategy is to get plenty of rest. This means naps if possible, resting quietly if not. It also means not running lots of last minute errands. I've tried to do the bulk of the Pascha shopping this week, so as to avoid running all over town next week. Finally, it means skipping one service mid-week so that the kids can get to bed at their usual bedtime. I'm still deciding if that will be Tuesday or Wednesday night.