[photopress:Temple2_sarah_1009.jpg,thumb,pp_style]By Nettie H. Francis
It’s temple morning!” I can still remember the excitement in my sister’s voice each Saturday as she woke me up. At twelve and ten years of age, and the oldest children in the family, we had the responsibility of being in charge while our parents attended the temple each Saturday morning. Rising well before any of us woke; they would participate in temple ordinances, and then return home just after breakfast.
Part of the thrill for us children was the prospect of eating Cheerios while they were gone. Cold cereal—a rare treat in our family—was enough to get all 8 of us out of bed, dressed, and ready for the day in half the time it took on a school morning.
Then we would sit at the table, say a blessing, and thoroughly enjoy our cereal and bananas. By the time the last bowl was finished, our parents were usually walking through the front door.
Our second favorite part of “temple morning” was the peaceful atmosphere our parents brought home with them. Radiating with happiness and fresh with the “feeling of the temple,” I can still remember those happy mornings when they arrived home and I felt that “all was right in the world.” I’m convinced that their strong commitment to temple attendance brought many, many blessings to our family, both seen and unseen.
Because of my positive experience as a child, and with many urgings from prophets both old and present, my husband and I have also made it a practice to be a temple-going couple. But even with a temple in the same valley, young children at home have often been a reason to limit our temple trips. Sometimes it seems nearly impossible to leave babies or toddlers alone for 3 hours while we attend a session, and with responsibility for so many children, we often wonder, “How can we
squeeze in a trip to the temple?”
Here are a few tips we have learned from other temple-going couples over the years.
Take Turns:When my husband and I had two babies, ages 0 and 1, we traded temple trips with a couple who lived in the apartment below us. They were young and just finishing school, and our schedules were both flexible enough to attend the temple in the afternoon. We could nurse the baby and make it to a session and back before he woke up. This allowed us a regular time to attend each week, and gave them the same opportunity. Find a couple with a similar life situation as you, so that trading children will be “even,” and the time frame for tending and attending works out well for both sets of parents.
Take Time:The most important aspect of attending the temple is to find the time! As our family has grown, it is not as easy to set a specific time each week to attend the temple. Now, we schedule temple time each Sunday during our weekly planning meeting. If our regular temple day is full, then we know well in advance about the conflict and can schedule a new time. Planning on Sunday evenings has helped to make our temple attendance consistent, even with an inconsistent schedule.
Take Two:It’s fun to attend the temple as a couple, but sometimes can be even more motivating to take another couple along. Especially for ward temple night or temple assignments, scheduling to carpool with someone can reassure both couples that you will keep your commitment to attend. The conversation on the way to and from the temple is relaxing, and afterwards it’s always nice to get dinner or a treat! We like to attend the temple about once a month with another couple, and have strengthened many friendships this way.
Trade Turns:One of the most effective ways we have found of attending the temple is to trade turns as spouses. Although our preference is to attend the temple as a couple, splitting up sometimes has helped us go more often.
Staying home with a parent is less traumatic for babies and toddlers, and allows the other parent a little more freedom to go and come without arranging to take the children to a babysitter. Often, my husband or I will alternate going to the early session at the temple, 5:30am, which does require dedication, but doesn’t hinder the family schedule much. By the time the children are awake and ready for breakfast, the temple-going parent is nearly home and my husband can get to work at a regular time.
Trade Types: There are several types of service that can be rendered at the temple, and not all require a three hour commitment. Try participating in different ordinances, or giving service in the laundry or cafeteria.
Besides providing yourself with a variety of temple experiences, these different options and their time frames can make serving in the temple simpler.
Trade Times: Consider attending the temple at an off time. With a flexible babysitter, such as a high school student who ends school early—it’s often feasible to go to a session during the afternoon, when the temple is less crowded, and small children may be napping for most of the time.
Take Heart:The Bible Dictionary states, “Only the home can compare with the temple in sacredness.” In other words, giving service in our homes is similar to serving in the temple. During the young years of families when newborns and demanding schedules may keep us from attending the temple as often as we would like, we can still make our homes sacred, and give service to the Lord while serving his children. In March of 2007 at our stake conference, President Earl, from the Temple Presidency taught us, (and I paraphrase from my journal entry), “It is a wonderful thing to be in the temple…But how much better to have the temple in us, in our hearts and our minds.”