Triduum With Toddlers

Before I sign off for the remainder of Holy Week, I wanted to write a quick post so that the awkward one about President Obama won’t be the top post on the page. Also, because I’m genuinely curious about the Triduum traditions of you all, but especially of those of you with small children.

For the first two Holy Weeks of our marriage, Atticus and I attended all the services. Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil, and sometimes even again on Sunday just for good measure. We love Holy Week that much.

Last year Maggie was nearly four months old during Holy Week, so we did everything the same with the exception of the Easter Vigil (my favorite Mass of the entire liturgical year), because it was just too long.

This year, however, we have a toddler. A 15 month old who, on a good week, makes it all the way through Mass standing in the back of the Church with either myself or Atticus, and who on a bad week…cries. A lot.

Routines are becoming so important for us around here, with bedtime routine being the most important of all. So there goes the gorgeous, Holy Thursday Mass tonight at our parish. It lasts two hours. The Easter Vigil is out, though it begins early enough, it is just too long (at 3+ hours…no we don’t omit any readings) for a toddler. Or for her parents to have to wrangle her.

Thankfully Atticus has tomorrow off from work so we will be able to attend the Good Friday service tomorrow afternoon. We want to enjoy the day off, but don’t want to do anything that’s contrary to the spirit of Good Friday, so we’re going to do a trip to a local park for a walk and some exercise after church. I don’t want to just sit around the house all day, but we can’t really spend all day in church either, with this little noisemaker.

We have a few little things we’re going to to try and keep with the spirit of Holy Week, with a toddler.

We have an excellent book that Maggie’s godmother Elizabeth sent. It’s called My First Pictures of Easter and has photo stories of Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, and some of the sightings of Jesus after Easter. It’s perfect for the 2 and under set.


Atticus and I have a CD from Lighthouse Catholic Media which is a guided reflection on Stations of the Cross. We haven’t listened to it yet, but we’re planning to listen as a family on Friday.

We’re also going to watch the final two installments of the Fr. Barron Catholicism DVD series. It’s been very good.

As for Easter itself, we got Maggie a picture book called The Story of Easter. It’s cute, we had it’s companion The Story of Christmas and she liked it a lot. She’s small for much else than that on the religious front, so we’re going to focus on making Easter a joyful, fun day with good food, fun surprises (an egg hunt in the front yard) and most importantly, a beautiful Mass.

Neither Atticus nor I grew up in a home with much religious tradition surrounding Easter (other than go to church on Easter Sunday), so we’re basically starting from scratch ourselves.

What about you all? If you have or have had toddlers, how did you incorporate the Holy Week solemnities and celebrations? Did you already have traditions in place, or did you make them up as you went along?

If you haven’t already stopped looking at the internets for the rest of Holy Week, I’d love to hear from you!

Blessed Triduum!


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  • Michelle

    I think you have a great plan. I love the Triduum. Last year was the first year that I took the kids to Holy Thursday Mass all by myself (granted, I was pregnant, so only had to really worry about Dominic) and we also went to Good Friday. I did not take them to the Vigil, though. Since my husband works nights on the weekend, it is not something I am sure I can do all the time…at least not yet.

    This year I am planning to take the kids to Holy Thursday mass tonight. Sarah’s been a real big help with the baby lately, so I feel comfortable for that one. Sarah has volleyball games tomorrow night, so if I go, I’d have to go without her…not sure I’m up for that. And probably no Easter Vigil either. I don’t think our parish omits any readings either.

    Just for myself…I usually watch The Passion of the Christ on Holy Thursday after the kids go to bed. And we do Stations of the Cross Good Friday afternoon as a family.

  • Juile

    We go to the same Church and thus are not going to be taking a toddler and baby to Holy Thursday Mass or The Easter Vigil either. We both work so going to Good Friday Service is out too. That leaves us with Easter Sunday Mass as the only one we attend this year. I feel guilty, but this is the season we are in and we can’t do much about it. I don’t think it would be helpful for us spiritually to bring 2 screaming kids into church anyway.

  • Emily G

    We’re going to all three…with a 3 year old, 18 month old, and 9 week old. Should be “interesting” to put it mildly. I think I am going to be breaking my ‘no eating in church’ rule. I have lots of books packed up for tonight, and our Triduum is being held at a different church than our usual one, so perhaps the new environment will keep them busy for a while. I can hope…

    Wishing you a blessed Easter!

  • Grace

    We usually do the vigil. Not sure what to do this year with the squeak monster.

  • maggiefromtheheart

    Not sure if you’ve been reading my latest posts about Joe, but our plan is to stick with just Easter Sunday Mass. And even that won’t be as glorious and Alleluia as I would like it to be! Happy Easter!

  • Joy Bailey

    Since my husband sings/plays we sort-off ‘divide and conquer’: he goes to the service, and then I will go to Adoration and night prayer when he gets home. He helps at the afternoon service, I help at the evening, we get a sitter for the Vigil. Plan to take the kids to Easter Sunday service and they are receiving the Veggie Tale Easter story in one of their baskets (probably Lisbeth’s).

  • Pat

    I’m sorry to say that we took the easy route when we had 3 within 3 years. We did not attend church in those early years. That might have been a mistake. But as I look back, I am sure that God was with me, pulling me through.

  • thatmarriedcouple

    So obviously I’m way late on this one, but I thought I’d throw out there what we did with Miriam. We did go to the Holy Thursday service (which was not longer than a normal mass, though it did conflict with her bedtime), then I took her to a Stations on Good Friday after her nap, then we went to an Easter morning mass (again, not really longer than a regular mass). What I’d like to do next year is the same but also incorporate the office of morning prayer every day, since that’s what our parish did in the morning instead of the regular 8:00 am daily masses. And maybe go to a different parish for the Stations of the Cross, because at ours they didn’t let everyone walk from one to the next, and I think that’s really important for keeping my toddler quiet – I mean, engaged. And hopefully a new environment will also help, as Emily pointed out above.

    Hope you all had a great Easter!