General Conference with kids can be very challenging. For the past 5 years, I've struggled with how to approach it. I want to listen and learn, but I have 2 small children who also need my attention. I want them to be quiet, but that is unrealistic. Last fall I think I finally gave up any expectation that I would listen during General Conference, and thus I was not disappointed. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised that I got to listen to some small portion of the talks.
So I was going into this weekend with the same lowered expectations, tempered with a bit of hope due to the excitement levels of said small children. We have been talking a lot about General Conference this week. We have talked some about how we get to listen to the prophet and apostles, but mostly we've been talking about things we get to do during conference.
One thing we've done for at least a year now is treat buckets, inspired by Simply Kierste. Except they are kind of like the "low budget, non-cute" version, because honestly, would I ever create something that darling? We use bowls. And handwritten words on slips of paper, taped to the bowls. With scotch tape. High class, that's what we are. We learned the first time we did this that it isn't a great idea to have a whole load of candy sitting out, because then you eat a whole load of candy and feel ill. So now we mix it up with pretzels, crackers, raisins, peanuts, etc. My kids really look forward to this, and they absolutely loved shopping for the treats and coming up with the words. It's amazing how much it helps them pay attention.
We also pitch the play tent in the living room, so they can watch like the people of King Benjamin. And print out oodles of coloring pages. And pull out every puzzle in the house. Basically any quiet activity we can think of. And then, when that all fails, I've told the girls they can go play somewhere else, so long as Mom and Dad can listen to conference. The only person they have to sit and listen to is the prophet. That's the deal.
I also took the time yesterday to talk with Julia (who has been praying for the prophet and apostles to do well on their talks all week) about how we can gain personal revelation from General Conference. I told her that if she has any questions or concerns, she can get answers through the talks at GC. And then I asked her if she had any questions. She wanted to know why Heavenly Father and Jesus had to be in heaven instead of on earth, where they could help us better. This led to a discussion about faith and how Heavenly Father and Jesus help us from heaven. It was a beautiful conversation, and I am so grateful I could have that with my sweet daughter. She is a thinker, that one, and has an amazing grasp on gospel principles.
I have to say that today was a roaring success. Everyone was in the living room for all 4 hours of conference, except when I bipped into the kitchen to make bagels (another conference-time tradition!). In fact, while I was shaping said bagels, Ella came into the kitchen, almost in tears, asking me if I was going to watch the prophets. I told her I was listening, and she said, "But you need to come watch them. You're going to miss the whole thing!" When I asked Ella at dinner what she thought of General Conference, she said, "It was so much fun!" Did we have some moments where no one was listening? Well, sure. But on the whole, everyone was happy, quiet, and at least somewhat paying attention. At bedtime, both girls expressed that they were excited for tomorrow. Excited! For 2 more sessions of conference! Unbelievable. I am one lucky mama.
(Stay tuned for tomorrow's post where everyone was in tears and nobody listened to conference. Because obviously that would happen after I posted about how awesome today was.)