Sunday, October 7, 2012

Comment Clean Up + Question about kids and conference

All right, so the comments on the check-in post just got a reeeeeaaaallly poor clean-up. I tried to follow the rule "if it's not a check-in or in direct response to a check in, it goes." I probably messed it all up and offended three trillion people and did it in a totally unfair way and stomped on a genuine question or two, and for that I'm so sorry. I also got bored and stopped prematurely so I may have missed major stuff.

Normally when a post has threads that go off the deep end
I just delete the whole post because, seriously, do I really want to take an hour or two of my time and cherry pick comments that I think cross lines? No I do not. I do not have that kind of time or attention span. I deleted the post for a couple minutes this time, but then I realized that people are going to want to go back and see their commitments, so I decided to repost it, then go through and do a general massive sweep of offensive and off-topic stuff (nothing personal towards anyone--I swear--just getting it cleaned out and refocused on the topic, which was check-ins) and then turned off comments. I hope you guys are patient with me in having chosen that solution. I have never been accused of being the most thorough guy in the world, so seriously I have likely missed important things or deleted innocuous things. If it means a lot to you, let me know and I'll happily rectify something, but I'm hoping not to have to spend much more time on that post.

Also, I still owe you all a FFAQ from last week. The comment that won won by a landslide. As I think I told you, I wrote a response, but the Lolly nixed it because it wasn't good enough (she's an exacting editor at times) and I am working now on the real deal. I hope to have it up soon. As in in the next day or two.

Aaaaand finally I have a question for you LDS folks who watch conference. So, I absolutely loved General Conference and got a lot out of it. But I'm not gonna lie, I may or may not have contemplated infanticide at various points of the weekend when my children did things like: spilled entire bags of candy or screamed at the top of their lungs or asked "is it almost over" approximately 4 bazillion times.

I'll tell you what, thoughts of inflicting death on innocent children are not very congruent with one's attempt to be spiritually fed by General Conference. That's just in case you were wondering.

So, this is where I ask for your expertise. We tried conference Bingo where they hear different words and cover up spaces with M & M's. It was not successful and ended up devolving into Anna asking "did they say ______?" enough to almost entirely obliterate the net silence, while Viva ate bags of candy and Tessa ran around smearing chocolate on various parts of the house with reckless abandon (and then threw two-year-old tantrums--her level of melt-down was impressive. Makes sense because she turns two in one week).

So, what are your ideas? How do you keep your kids entertained during conference?

90 comments:

  1. Josh, have you ever considered moderating the comments? I mean as in they don't go "live" until you approve them.

    When my kids were all young, like yours I didn't ask them to watch all four sessions. In my mind, that is a lot to ask rom a child and could be enough to make them dread conference for years to come. Instead I had them sit and listen to one session. The other sessions they were allowed to play quietly.

    If playing quietly is not possible, then you and Laurel might consider taking turns with "Tessa duty" or kid duty that way at least one of you can enjoy...and you can watch whatever you miss the following day on LDS.org.

    My three teens seemed to enjoy conference so I think my method works well. (Five sessions for the boys!)

    Oh and there are treats for those who are sitting and watching conference...because I am not above bribery. *wink*

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    1. That's what I did.. and they aren't mine! Mommy/Daddy were on their semiannual weekend trip to Moab so I had the little ones. Saturday was a gimme- they played in the playroom while I was in the livingroom watching.

      Sunday I asked that they wear a dress, as I did, to remember that it was Sunday. I then asked they play quietly, color (They like to draw on blank paper, so I told them they could have as much paper as long as they were in the living room listening), or do my hair (6-yr olds can't do much damage, and they love it!) in the living room during the first session. Seccond session was free time, and after the second session, they could change out of dresses to play (Normally, they can change after church, so that was essentially the same.. just different timeframe.)

      It worked well- I think mostly b/c I told them beforehand what I expected.

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    2. In our house giving out treats for good behavior is called incentive...not bribery - haha *wink* I'm with the plan of only having the kiddos really 'watch' Sunday sessions. DVR's are fabulous for recording & watching later.

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    3. I am new to this sort of blog thing so i hope there arn't any rules i have to know about. Any way. So about kids and conference. Number one the two year old rules. I was given this advice by my visiting teacher and bishops wife. She gets toys snacks and what ever will help her be happy the only rule is she can keep her fun things as long as she plays quietly in ear shot of conference. The there two get cool new (only for conference)crayons markers or pencils and get to draw conference but they will be done in five min or so so they too have to listen quietly on the floor or with in ear shot. Drawing or sculpting a particular speaker but something that is engaging them in directly.I have done this with my kids for all ten years I have been a member and my twelve year old has grown to love the words of the prophet and general authorities. My nine year old is getting there. As long as they are in the room and its auto-able to them they are doing there part it's a-OK.

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  2. Hi Josh,

    My husband and I have decided to try watching one talk a night with our kids, we have a 5y, 3y, and 8mth. We download the sessions from lds.org and watch them that way. I guess we'll see how that goes.

    Ardeth {sydney, Australia}

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    1. Geat idea. You're not apostate if you don't watch it all live.

      We were encouraged by our stake presidency to attend the stake centre and watch the Saturday Morning session all together. That was all we expected our 8 year old daughter to sit through, (although when she fund that we had watched a session in the house while she was off playing she was miffed.) Because it was in a church building her behaviour wasas good as it generally is at church.

      I certainly wouldn't expect littlies the age of yours to sit for 4 sessions in one weekend.

      I totally loved what I have heard so far. Isn't Elder Holland awesome? And Elder Uchtdorf. And Elder Eyring. And did I mention President Monson. Elder Packer gave a very good talk but I was preoccupied with concern for how frail he has become. I wonder if we'll have the privilege of hearing from him again.

      I haven't heard Elder Oaks' talk yet. I've heard about it...

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    2. I meant Sunday morning, not that that was the most crucial part of my post.
      (Which, of course, we get on Sunday evening. Also bordering on irrelevent)

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    3. @Gemma: Elder Holland's was my favorite so far. I still need to watch Saturday part 2, & parts of Sunday part 2. :P

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  3. Hi Josh, I used to get upset at my kids when they talked or fought during general conference and I couldn't hear what the speaker was saying. When my kids were little, my husband and I decided that we would take turns listening to general conference. If it was my turn to listen, then my husband would play with the kids in another room while listening. We then switched. It gave us the opportunity to really hear what was being said without the kids interrupting constantly. Any talks that we missed while taking care of the kids, we were able to go back and watch at a later time or ask each other about it.

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  5. I prefer to take my family to a church building that shows general conference...We dress up in sunday clothes and we attend the 3 sessions that are shown at acceptable hours, that makes one session saturday and 2 on sunday. I´ve actually been able to go through with this for the past 4 years, my kids are now 9 and 15...
    Well except this time around! I was sick saturday but wanted to go anyways, but then apparently due to technical problems found a sign on the door that conference would not be shown in the church building we had driven to...the ride there was 30 minutes and the dissapointment did NOT exactly put me in the kind of mood that invites the spirit! Sunday I was more sick and gave up without a fight. Conference was in comfy clothes on the couch and my son just went to his room and played with his LEGO...So much for good traditions ha ha! Now, your kids are smaller than mine! But I find that dressing up and going to the church building brings more reverence and my son (not without complaints though) has actually been really good at enduring 3x2 hours meetings over the course of a weekend! And this is a kid that has major behavioural/ anger problems in school!!!!! Next time I wont be sick! And I´ll go to the bigger church 45 mins away! Just saying that´s my plan! (we moved stakes! Had we gone to our old ward in our old stake there wouldn´t have been technical problems coz my husband would have helped fix them...just saying!)!!! (Katja, Denmark)

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  6. oh and no we didn´t expect our kids to just sit and watch! We allowed them to draw, which they both love! And I know that when they´re all caught up in drawing their ears will still be open, whether consciously or subconsciously affected by the words of the prophets I couldn´t care less ;) what gets in gets in! and I just care that atleast for those 6 hours everything that goes in is GOOD!

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  7. Boy when they're that young its not even worth it. lol sorry, but thats my opinion. We used to watch it at the stake center. When we were a bit older we'd watch it at home with a snack, intermittently falling asleep. But when they are in the stage of coked out exuberance theres just no point in attempting it at home. You need a primary room with babysitters :)

    I havent watched conference yet. Elder Hollands talk got quite a lot of attention on my FB page so I streamed that one and..it was good. Yes. He delivered that message well. Sometimes it really isnt what you say but how you convey that makes the whole difference.

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  8. The morning before I prepared some snacks in individual bags (some treats, other things like grapes and orange slices that I knew my 3 year old would love). Then I printed off a bunch of different activity and coloring pages. Not necessarily ones where she had to pay attention, but would just keep her quiet. I also had a few other activities (the biggest hit was letting her make jewelry with plastic beads: they take awhile and keep her focused, but I also had Apostle matching game, some gospel popsicle puzzles, and a couple interactive gospel themed books). Our deal was that she had to sit quietly playing with the activities provided and at each song if she had been reverent she got to choose a snack. And whenever conference wasn't on we let her run wild and play outside as much as possible so she didn't feel all cooped up. It actually worked really well and there were only a couple talks where we didn't quite catch them.

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  9. It helps if you actually watch conference at the church building while they are young. It sets a tone and helps them want to listen. I know that at home I sometimes struggle staying focused because I see things that need to be done. It is almost impossible for a young child to stay focused when a toy is calling them from the next room. We also brought snacks, to conference with us but not sugar-y ones.

    Another wonderful 'toy' for lack of a better word that we ONLY used at conference (so it would work!) was Wikki Stix. Here is a link that shows the wikki Stix in a box and a picture a bit lower of what can be done with them.

    When my kids got bored making 2-D pictures with the Wikki Stix, we graduated them to 3-D objects (or sculptures if you prefer) like flowers, bugs, dinosaurs & cars.

    It made conference more fun for all of us. Good luck in April. :)

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  10. Sorry, heres the link: http://mommylife.net/reviews/2011/09/wikki-stix-creatables.html

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  11. I was just talking to a friend on Saturday, about this and I thought she had a brilliant idea. She has two sons, 7 and 6, and she gives them foot baths and massages during conference. It helps relax them, and they are quiet. It doesn't last for the whole time, but she got about 40 mins out of it.

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  12. I can't help but say this... Duct Tape!
    Probably why I'll never have children...

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    1. You mean like this?
      http://i157.photobucket.com/albums/t66/JPWheless/8372f77c.jpg

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    2. Close enough, though I always imagine some over the mouth as well...

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    (Available at all Wal-Mart and CostCo Pharmacies)

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  14. Ugh, I know what you mean. I had conference bingo too (only worked with my 9 year old, otherwise it was "What did he say?" every 5 seconds.) I also had conference color by number pages, those ended up just being colored for fun which was fine by me but only lasted 10 minutes. In the end I just let them go play but they were NOT allowed to go turn the other TV on to watch cartoons. I put my foot down on that. (pats self on back)

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  15. A few of my friends "Pitch their tents toward the prophet". One sets up an actual tent in their living room and fills it with pillows and coloring pages. Another builds a fort with their kids in the living room to "watch" Conference in together (again, coloring, matching games...whatev's).

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  16. Teach them about the Prophet and the Apostles--hang the pictures on the wall and find stories about them (maybe when they were children) so that they're real people to them. Then, start by having them JUST watch President Monson's talks (he speaks in every session except Saturday Afternoon, and only Sunday Morning is a long talk) and participate in the sustaining of church officers (Saturday Afternoon). That helps them to get what Conference is really about and why it's important to let you and Mommy watch and hear what Heavenly Father has to tell us.

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  17. My kids sit and do quiet activities (coloring, puzzles) while listening a LOT better if any treats they have are not sugary. Kind of counterintuitive to give a kid sugar and then expect them to hold still.

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  18. I'm sure you'll get lots of good ways to entertain and keep children occupied by conference, so I'm going to offer something a little bit different....learn patience:) Kids are kids. They are not going to sit still forever (unless you want to give into the thoughts of inflicting harm, which every parent has, so don't feel bad::)). If you keep trying and working with them, eventually they will be able to sit through conference, but that takes years. So, we also have to train ourselves to put up with a bit of noise and action. I'm just grateful we can read or listen to conference later too. Otherwise, I'd miss alot.

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  19. This year was the most successful for our family. I only make my kids watch one session and I don't care what the three year old does as long as she's quiet. I gathered a bunch of snacks like goldfish, mini nilla wafers, sour patch watermelons, whoppers, m&m's and mini chocolate chip cookies. I think I had about 12 things total. I put them in little bowls and lined them up. Then I made tags with different words on them like love, Jesus Christ, mission, Holy Ghost and blessing. Enough so each bowl had it's own tag. During conference when my kids heard one of the words they could get the snack, but they could only get the snack if they heard the word. My kids are 10 & 12 and it worked great! The three year old got whatever she wanted. I made sure she had breakfast though, so she wouldn't pig out on candy :)

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  20. Honestly? We watched Conf downstairs on the computer while we set our 2.5 yr old up on the TV upstairs with Veggie Tales and Living Scriptures. We got to watch most of Conf without any interruption, aside from switching out the videos for him from time to time.

    And we were also lucky enough that his afternoon nap took in almost the entire second session of on Sunday afternoon.

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    1. This worked perfect for us too! We have 3 yr. old triplets and a 7 and 12 yr old. We put on a movie with snacks downstairs for the little kids and the rest of us watched conference in peace upstairs! And afternoon sessions were durning their nap which was a beautiful thing!

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  21. My kids were at their dad's house on Saturday so they didn't watch it then. My requirements are that they be in the same room with the TV and that they are quiet. They can color, read a book, or play quietly. We were moderately successful yesterday; by the end of the morning session everyone was having a bit of a meltdown for various reasons. We had tried doing Conference Bingo with M&Ms (I have everyone a pre-portioned baggie) but that didn't go so well. Yesterday's afternoon session was a lot better because the toddler was napping and my older two got out the Duplos and spent the entire time building stuff with them. Oh, and between sessions I make them go outside and play for at least an hour.

    I never watched Conference as a kid and I turned out OK (I think)

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  22. My little one is just over a year old, but we've been careful to teach him that church time is quiet time. At home he would never consent to sit on my lap for more than a few minutes, but at church he knows that he has to stay put and rarely fights it. We chose to go to the church for one Sunday session, because we knew that both my husband and I and our baby would be more reverent and get more out of it (okay, I have no illusions that my son got anything out of the talks, but at least he let us listen!). I like the idea given by artistinterrupted of having special toys for conference, we do the same for church. It makes a huge difference.

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  23. It's really not geared toward them. They don't understand it because they're children. But if you want to make them watch, before you become the parent who takes them to church on conference sunday, inflicting permanent damage and causing them to resent you for life: jigsaw puzzles. My big fat Mormon family (whom I love and do not see as the "devil", poppy, and others, for the record) does jigsaw puzzles. We also have munchies during and afterward. It's a long running tradition. I made bacon wrapped shrimp, POPPY. My big fat unsatanic Mormon family loved them. (No I did not save any for you.)

    If it were me, I'd just give the kids a summary afterward containing all relevant info.

    And remember, no pernogrify.

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    1. I second that. Jigsaw puzzles were a big part of my family's conference activities. I still love doing puzzles during conference. :)

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    2. Only thing that could keep me from falling asleep five minutes after the opening hymn.

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    6. "My big fat Mormon family"...I love it! We eat a lot before, during, in between and after conference.

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    7. I would have loved to see the comments BQ said....and the anonymous poster post was not bad at all. Not sure why that was removed.. Interesting.....

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    8. It was removed because he was egging me on. And I don't respond well to that.

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    9. i don't think it sounded like he was egging you on. But obviously it did. :)

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    10. Ooh, puzzles would be great. Even for adults, sometimes busy things with my hands help my mind focus MORE on things I am listening to. I've watercolored before during conference and I loved it. I also like the idea of a summary afterwards. No little kid brain can process that much info.

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  24. I had my most brilliant idea that worked wonderfully! We've done a variety of things over the years. Our girls are now 7, 8, and 10, so it's a little different from what it was when they were your girls' ages. Here was my brilliance this time, though:
    I happen to have three muffin tins, each of which have 12 places of baked deliciousness. Having 3 girls and no muffins, this seemed a good starting place.
    I went to a grocery store with an awesome bulk food section and bought a wide variety of goodies (candy necklaces, gummy butterflies, yogurt covered raisins, etc.). I put a bit of candy in each muffin receptacle in each of the three tins. The bulk section was great because I could buy just a little bit of each thing without spending a gazillion dollars.
    Next, I dug out a washable glue stick and some tissue paper. Glued a sheet of tissue paper over the top of each muffin pan. Then I popped online and printed out three sets of pictures of each of the quorum of the 12. Then I glued the pictures over each opening in the pan.
    For added amazement, I put the candies in randomly, and put the pictures on randomly so each child had to pay attention on their own and got a real surprise inside, not knowing what treat was coming.
    When a member of the Quorum of the Twelve spoke the girls would find his picture on their tin. Then when they could tell me what he was talking about they got to remove the picture and tear the tissue off that opening and eat the goodies. When a member of the FIrst Presidency spoke, they could come tell me what the subject was and I'd give them a golden chocolate coin.
    Because of the age of my children I chose not to point out when a relevant speaker was up. They had to pay attention on their own. No, they weren't perfect. Yes, there were a few freak out moments anyway. BUT, they did pretty well. And, even better, after Saturday when they saw they had more for the next day, they were looking forward to Sunday's sessions!

    The telling part of the project, though -- my girls were super excited, yet their first questions was "Did you find this on Pinterest?!?!". No, thank you for your faith in me, but this was ALL ME ;)

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    1. That was brilliant. I want you to be my mum. (Mom)

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    2. Love this idea! (I'd "pin" it!) :)

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  25. We have started doing the "Tent thing" - a la the people listening to King Benjamin, the kids set up tents (some actual kid tents, sometimes blankets on chairs or whatever) pointed towards the screen and camp out in there. We usually print up conference packets or have small quiet games for the younger kids - blocks, coloring, etc. (the older ones - like 8ish and up - are expected to take some notes.) We have a big brunch (keeps mouths shut for the first few talks anyway) during the morning session. A friend of mine recently posted on facebook that she got a big puzzle of the temple for her kids to do at the table while listening. Your kids are all little (I have a mix), so my recommendation would be to come up with some family traditions for conference to make it something they look forward to and set some expectations (you don't want to suddenly be like, hey, now that you're 7..9...whatever.. .you have to start listening), even if right now its just, "you have to play quietly in the same room as us until the Prophet speaks, then come sit on my lap to listen". And then you and Lolly can listen to the talks online later one at a time :) Last April I started playing one talk a day while we did dishes after dinner and the kids actually were listening and discussing - even the little ones.

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  26. Develop the great gift of selective hearing and sight. I have 6 younger brothers and when they were younger I learned to have entire conversations over them screaming, whining, talking, fighting and at times punching me (rough housing was a way of life. To this day I enjoy a good fight and I'm pretty good for my petite little self). Seriously, children are noisy even when they're quiet. Generally the older ones had to watch at least one sesssion. the younger ones we told o go play with the toys and be quiet. When they got loud, we turned up the volume and told them to be quiet.

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  28. We tivo it and try to watch when our 2 year old is entertaining herself or sleeping. Otherwise it is next to impossible to get much spiritually from it for us. We have friends who take turns with their spouse watching a session in peace while the other takes care of the kids. So that is how we roll our way. Good luck your way!

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  29. As a kid, my mom read out loud to us all the time. Usually she read chapter books and the rule was, when mom was reading to us, we were to play with things that were quiet and allowed us to still listen (puzzles, legos if we dumped them out first, coloring, etc.). It was fairly simple for my parents to teach us that the same rule applied to conference. We just had to be within listening distance and doing a quiet activity. They'd usually ask us to listen to the Prophet's talk without playing with toys, but other than that, they were fine if we just quietly played. We still got too rowdy on occasion, but my mom or dad would remind us of the rules, and that would usually calm things down again.

    It was obvious to us children that my parents loved conference, and they also did quiet things while they listened. With their example, and their encouragement to listen, a love for conference grew in our hearts too.

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  30. I tie my toddler to a share and prop her eyes open with little toothpicks a la Clockwork Orange. And I tell her, "be spiritually fed, or else!"

    And then my wife scolds me and says, "if you're not going to pay attention, you can't expect her to pay attention either. Untie the kid you horrible person."

    She's only two now. Maybe next year we'll be able to all watch together, but it was a mad house this year.

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  31. We didn't expect our kids to sit an listen when they were/are little. I have a 2yo and a 5-almost 6yo. This year the 6yo sat and listened to both Sunday session of conference with a score card similar to bingo. We didn't have treats involved as there aren't treats at church when he's sitting quietly in sacrament. He has a score card to fill out and every time he heard a certain word he marked it....he seemed to enjoy the challenge of listening for a handful of words. As for the 2yo we had him set up with a Sunday appropriate movie and he could come and go as he pleased. Oh and this was the first year I required the 5/6yo to sit and watch the whole time! Oh and see how I didn't mention Saturday sessions...I watched the afternoon session while the kids were doing their own thing...and the Husband and I will watch the morning session sometime soon alone. That's how we do it :)

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  32. My mom did something awesome this year that me (and I'm 21 haha) and my sibings loved. I have a five year old sister so it's hard for her to sit still so my mom came up with the idea to have a present for each of the apostles. They had like oreos, coloring pages, candy, food, etc inside each one. But basically she had a paper with the apostles name and picture on each bag and with a little spot on there to write down what his talk was about in one word, put down any scriptures he quoted, and write a summary of the talk. It was great because we got to open a present every time an apostle spoke. My sister loved it and we did too because we had treats all through conference haha!

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  33. Don't expect them to watch it all all at once! We tape conference. Now my kids are all teens, so we watch all the sessions over the weekend, but when the kids were younger we watched one session a day. Depending on the ages of the kids, I didn't expect them to watch the whole thing. We did work on reverence though. I tried to have quiet things for them to do, so others could watch reverently. The sessions we didn't watch over conference weekend were doled out one at a time for weeks to come. We still do this. We rewatch conference talks for family home evening, as a Sunday afternoon activity, when preparing for a talk, ect.

    Little by little.

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  34. I am not a parent, but a lot of my friends are, and I was once a child listening to conference. we did the conference bingo thing- it worked well when we were older. My mom also let us pick out our favorite food and each session we had a feast on the side, and if we got tired of watching we could always go to the kitchen and get the food we had chosen- it ranged from healthy to not, but I think there was kind of a balance. The volume of food got excessive, but i think that could be toned down. that right there made me excited about conference though, knowing i got to choose and eat my favorite meal while I listened. Also, my parents had it on every where! All of the TVS and the Radios, it was inescapably all over the house. so we were free to roam about and listen/watch wherever we wanted, even out in my dads garage. the boys could lisen to conference and work on cars at the same time. i think a diversity of places to listen helped all of us. that was in Utah, so washington is obviously more challenging for that one. A number of friends, and I think my parents also did this, Let us play with legos during conference, and build stuff like temples, the conference center, etc. it made it more exciting. I think you could accomplish the same with dolls if that isnt girly enough for your girls. Over all, i think its like teaching primary for a six year old class- you have to have a lot of back up plans and ideas of presenting things differently for when they get board with what is going on. Coloring books, tic tac toe and "the dot game" were also used at my house. we may not have always given our full attention, but we could play quietly and listen as we played and catch something.

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  35. Well josh I can empathize with you and Lolly having three kids of my own under the age of 8. I only require the younger ones to watch when the prophet comes on to speak and then they are aloud to go play quietly. My 7 year old I required to watch almost all of conference (with conference bingo) b/c when she is baptized she will be watching all four sessions. I also own the animated scripture stories and will put some of those on to keep the younger ones entertained with something church oriented in the other room. I don't know if it that is right but it works for our family. I have decided that as my children get older I will slowly add to the amount of talks they need to listen to until they are 8 years old. Having a TIVO helps tons though b/c we are able to record the session and pause, play, re-play or watch some later depending on the family. And also if you are going to play bingo we never use candy for our markers b/c it's a mess and very distracting. We use beans usually or something inedible and then after the bingos are won then we get the candy out and hand out the rewards, and then promptly put it away so it's not distracting. Anyway good luck and hopefully things will go better during the next session. By the way love you guys and wish you and Lolly the best.

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  36. I have 4 kids aged 2-10. I don't make them watch it all. For the very youngest, say under 5, we just have them come in and watch when Pres. Monson speaks, because they've seen him so often and know who he is and will usually sit quietly for him.
    The oldest at, 10 can sit through at least one session on her own, maybe two, but I don't ask more than that.
    The kids in between can be coloring or playing quietly and we'll call them over for a talk or two, especially the Prophet. If they get loud, they are sent out of the room, and will probably have an extra chore later. Honestly, at that age if they wander out of the room on their own and play elsewhere, we don't stop them.
    In our time zone, at least one session of conference will overlap with naptime for the younger ones, making that a little easier.
    Also, I've done the conference "packets" that go around and they are helpful with older kids 7+ but not my younger ones.

    I feel that trying to make everyone sit quietly at home and listen is a gargantuan task and one I am not up to. I find it hard to feel the spirit when I am frustrated and/or angry, so I find it is best to just try to keep the room where the conference is on quiet, and not worry about who is watching what. Sometimes they come around on their own if they hear something interesting. All of the kids came running when they heard mommy getting excited about the mission announcement. And their ears perked up when he talked about the Kansas City Temple cultural celebration since we are in the KC area.
    Overall, I find that it is more important for the kids to absorb the spirit in the home while mom & dad listen, then to struggle and try and get them to sit through it or even be in the same room. Having mom & dad be spiritually fed will have a greater impact on them than grudgingly sitting through 'boring' talks.

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  37. I can usually only manage one full session because of my attention span... this time, we were actually able to sit through it, too, without quite as much interruption from our 1 and 3 1/2 year old by sticking on another movie for them in the play room. Since they can't even handle paying attention during sacrament meeting, I'm not even gonna try to get them to pay attention while we're watching it at home on our Google tv and toys are beckoning them (I spend a large portion of my time at church on Sundays in the mother's lounge desperately hoping I can nurse my son to sleep since church falls right during his nap time. And so does my friend Crystal, so it's fun) A second session almost had the potential to be viewed by us this time thanks to the children playing happily upstairs in my daughter's room, but then the connection crapped out and my Sunday headache won and so I took a nap with the baby. Sometimes you just have to wait until the talks come out in the ensign and then hide in the bathroom to read them or go have dinner with others who watched it and say, hey, so can you summarize an entire session for me?

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  38. We have a dog carrier on top of our car that we use when we take the pets along on family vacations. We just put the kids in there, and they seem fine for 2 hours at a time.

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    1. As long as it's airtight. Non air tight containers are unsafe for pets and children.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1O5II0ZBCuA

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  39. I'd like to say we found wonderful ways to keep our kids entertained and quiet during General Conference back when we had small kids (baby is now 22), but that would be lying. We didn't have the option of watching conference on TV, at least not for some of that time period. I know it was always available through satellite transmission at the stake center and we did at least try to go to the Sunday morning session, where our kids were do their normal squirming as per any Sacrament Meeting. Occasionally I know we had it on the radio and one TV station locally might have the Sunday morning session.

    I think, though, that we were pretty much apostates on conference weekend and did stuff like go out of town or just stay home and enjoy a Sunday off from church responsibilities. It was the same way with stake conference, though, once they stopped having primary classes for the kids during conference (you have to be over a certain age to remember this, but I think the last time I remember it was mid 1980s).

    When the kids were teenagers, we did do conference bingo and word searches like others have said. The two we having at home now are in their 20s and they actually now come to the living room without being asked to during conference and watch it willingly.

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  40. With really small kids, we only watch one session all together. For others we trade off who watches. As they get older and can handle it we bring them along for extra sessions. To make it more special, we go to the stake center/church for the one session (and even others too, for peace and quiet)so the kids still sense the need to be reverent. At home, it's much harder for them to sense that.

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  41. We choose five words before each session for them to listen for. Usually we pick things like testimony, temple, mission, faith, prayer, etc. Often we'll have an easier one for the child between toddler and reading ages. ("Jesus" made the list on all four sessions this year for the sake of the five-year-old.) They get to eat a piece of candy each time they hear one of the words. Five words are not too many for them to keep track of. That said, as soon as Anna's reading fluently, you'll never have to be in charge of it again. The best and most effective change we've "made" is for my oldest grow older. Sorry if that's discouraging, but notice I only said the oldest one matters. She'll set the precedent and the rest will watch what she's doing. My four kids range 2-10 and it's been working much better for at least the last three years. With two readers all I do anymore is supply the candy. The older kids orchestrate and regulate the rest. Once the candy's gone the older ones linger because they want to act older, particularly on the last session when we're usually with aunts, uncles and grandparents who are all gathered to listen.

    The other major change I've made is with the candy. I used to set out a bowl of small candies, but strangely* the littlest ones didn't follow the rules and just scooped out hands full of candy. (Weird, eh?) So now I get candy necklaces. They each get one per session. Those too young to understand the rules still only get one necklace and when it's gone, it's gone.

    Mostly, over the years, they will come to do what they see you doing. If they see that you continually try to come back to watching, they'll learn to do the same.

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  42. I have two boys- 5 and 2 years old. They are the epitome of every single reason you wouldn't want to waste your time "watching" conference. This year though, we had some actual success. We had an activity for each apostle/member of the first presidency and when they spoke, they got to play with that activity. They were good activities, but some got a little out of hand, but what I can expect really with my two boys watching church for 8 hours. It was a good attempt. I need to have snacks maybe at each song, I saw in your comments, next time. And I need to focus my activities a bit more, but all in all, for a first attempt at actually expecting my kids to watch, it was a huge success. Keep at it. They will remember not what the talks were about, but that they're mom and dad expected greatness of them and the ability to do things from a young age. Your belief in their ability to be capable will be what helps their testimonies flourish.

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  43. I iron clothes to stay awake on Saturday. The kids are expected to watch Pres. Monson only. Plus, we attend the first Sunday session at Church. We are converts and don't think making the kids sit still for all those sessions will warp them too much, but what do we know, right?

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  44. Gosh, I have the same problem. We have a 3 year old and 4 month old. Between feedings, questions, tantrums, fits and non-stop talking we gave up trying to listen. We were discouraged when we were reading all over facebook how awesome everyone was feeling and uplifted their hearts were. I said to my husband, "Most of these people have little kids. How the heck do they get to pay attention?!" We decided after kids are in bed each night we will try to listen to 2-3 talks on lds.org. So I guess until we can sit our children on the couch and tell them no talking until after the closing prayer, we will be listening to them days after all the forunate people who have well behaved children. ;)

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  45. My sister in law is amazing! she makes conference weekend into a twice a year holiday. Her kids, even the small ones, 2ish, get really excited about it. She makes them each a packet of age appropriate coloring/activity pages, and for the older ones she leaves areas to take notes (by older I mean 7 and 9). While the speaker is going she hands out reverence token to whoever is being good, sitting quietly and coloring or whatever. After each talk she asks them questions about what the speaker said, and awards more tokens accordingly. After each session they can trade in their tokens for small toys and treats (dollar store stuff, she's really frugal). She will also pass around candy occasionally, or sit them down and paint nails while they watch (5 girls under 9yrs).
    In addition to the conference activities, she plans a big fun holiday type breakfast for saturday and sunday morning and some of their favorites for dinner. The whole thing is very festive... There is still some talking and wondering but for the most part all 4 of her big girls sit and watch the whole 4 sessions and are excited to. The 3yr old will go to the playroom and talk more than the others, but even she is excited to answer the questions (always with Jesus or be obedient and pray).
    It's really quite amazing.

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  46. Kids are too little, they only have to watch like 5 minutes and then maybe the songs. Besides that, they can be in the room where it's playing but only if they don't talk! If they talk, they have to go play somewhere else or go watch a movie or play on the computer, I don't care as long as I can hear conference. For a 2-yr old like Tess it's a whole other ball game though.

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  47. I would like to make a short check in: I was awakened at 3 am this morning by an unnecessary phone call from someone who could have called at a more appropriate time. Usually I can go back to sleep right away but I found myself unable to sleep because I was feeling angry. I did some mental actions (learned in therapy) so I could let go of my anger at the interruption to my sleep. They worked but I was still feeling anger about something that I had not yet identified.

    After a while of thinking through the events of the last few days I made a connection: In the last day or two, I had read online (somewhere in a reply to a comment on this blog, I think) about annotations on the records of members of the LDS Church who have gone through Church discipline. I am LDS. Back in the 1980's I committed a sin that, as part of my repentance, required me to have a Church disciplinary council. I am now, and have been for some time, fully reinstated in the Church...... except that I have an annotation on my membership record that puts a limitation on my ability to serve in certain callings in the Church (FYI: membership records are stored electronically, only a very few people have access to them, my annotation is ONLY visible to my Bishop, and the annotation can be removed when and if the conditions for its removal are satisfactorily met).

    My feeling of anger was resentment towards the annotation on my membership record. Let's get one important thing straight - I resent the annotation, NOT because I think it should not be there, but because I NEED it to be in place to protect me from the attraction to sin that I still feel on occasion. I resent the fact that I have a weakness, a character defect, that not many people seem to have and I need the annotation to protect me and help me keep moving in the direction I know my Father in Heaven wants me to go.

    So the conclusion I finally reached, what I'm really saying, is that I resent myself for being weak and needing help.

    I'm writing this down in just a few sentences but it took me well over an hour last night, plus time off and on throughout the day today, to ponder and pray until I had the thoughts and the insight I'm now writing.

    I did a search at the Church website today for annotation and read the article in the Church News and learned that annotations like mine may be lifelong but don't have to be. I believe, and the Holy spirit has confirmed this to my heart, that if I am serving to the best of my ability and moving in a Godly direction, if my Father in Heaven wants me to serve Him in some capacity some day that requires the removal of the annotation then He will strengthen me so that I will no longer need help from the annotation and will remove it from my record.

    As for my feelings of resentment, I believe the Holy Ghost gave me the comfort I needed when He brought back to my memory some words of Boyd K. Packer: "Supervision can end when resentment of supervision ends." For now, my annotation is my supervisor.

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    1. Art2d2,thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and your faith. I really appreciate your insight. Would you be willing to post the link to that Church News article you mentioned? I couldn't find it and I'd like to read it. Thanks again!

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    2. http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/public-issues/child-abuse

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  48. I know what you mean with kids and conference. I find myself feeling so inspired and touched by a message and then yelling, "Be quiet!" angrily at my kids. Hmmm.. Something seems incongruent. But anyway, for the last two conferences, I have bought special puzzles (like 500 piece ones) that everyone is invited to help with while we listed to conference. That has been really fun for us. Also, I've decided not to put too much effort into trying to make my kids listed to conference, because the fact is--conference just isn't that fun for kids, and that's OK. I didn't start enjoying conference until i was out of the house, and now I really love it, so I feel like everything will be OK with my kids. They will see how much I love it, and they will catch a gem or two, and someday, they will come to love it, too.

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  49. I know what you mean with kids and conference. I find myself feeling so inspired and touched by a message and then yelling, "Be quiet!" angrily at my kids. Hmmm.. Something seems incongruent. But anyway, for the last two conferences, I have bought special puzzles (like 500 piece ones) that everyone is invited to help with while we listed to conference. That has been really fun for us. Also, I've decided not to put too much effort into trying to make my kids listed to conference, because the fact is--conference just isn't that fun for kids, and that's OK. I didn't start enjoying conference until i was out of the house, and now I really love it, so I feel like everything will be OK with my kids. They will see how much I love it, and they will catch a gem or two, and someday, they will come to love it, too.

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  50. President Monson was the Mission President when my family joined the church, only my oldest sister was old enough to be baptized. My parents and sister all had their Baptism interview with President Monson. So, knowing the family history President Monson's conference talks have always been easy for the kids in my family to listen to. It was really cool when he dedicated the Toronto Temple (which seems like a lifetime ago) and hearing President Monson talk about people I grew up with from when he was Mission President.

    Since my husband is not a member I have usually let him deal with our kidlet during conference. Yes, it is an easy way out but I actually get something out of conference that way.

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  51. Look, we've got five kids. So I understand. We've been there. (Our youngest is thankfully out of the toddler stage.) We've tried everything. Conference bingo and crossword puzzles. Legos. Jigsaw puzzles. Sending kids out to jump on the trampoline. Yelling for quiet. Bribery. Etc. (Although we have avoided restraints and death threats.)

    Only two factors have really seemed to be effective: 1) We added onto our house, and 2) The children have gotten older.

    #1 has provided other rooms with TVs where the kids can go if they don't want to observe church-like quietness in the family room. (To be honest, that church-like quietness sometimes includes sounds of slumber from the older teen children.) And frankly, it's amazing what the kids in the other rooms garner from the sessions, even when we have heard the din of play through the walls.

    You can't get to #2 if you carry out infanticide. Although quietness might come sooner.

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  52. In my opinion, it's not reasonable to expect small children to sit quietly through 8 hours of something they cannot understand. Heck, they won't even sit through more than half an hour or an hour of a kids show, which is geared for them. Maybe that is my lazy excuse for not preparing fancy games and treats to get my kids to sit through it, but since I have four little ones and I work, I just don't have it in me to prepare all that stuff.

    I need to feel the Spirit and hear what my leaders say in General Conference, to be a better mom and to strengthen my own testimony. If my kids are running around driving me crazy I'm just aggravated the whole time. So my littler ones (5 and 3) can play whatever they want during conference, in any part of the house, and are only required to come listen to President Monson's talk. For my older ones (7 and 9), we do puzzles together or play games on the iPad while we listen. Maybe not ideal, but at least we're all awake and listening, and they do comment about things the speakers are saying so I know they're getting something out of it.

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  53. Josh you will delete this so it's more for you this link - http://www.washingtonblade.com/2012/04/06/mormons-working-to-overturn-md-marriage-law/.
    concerning don't you think? Y'all can't seem to stop.

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  54. My ideas: Letting the children play quietly (perhaps elsewhere in the house)while you watch, just requiring them to watch Sunday morning.

    Record the sessions and watch bit by bit after the small children are in bed.

    While children are watching conference, have a jigsaw puzzle up that people can work on while listening. Or let them build with Legos while listening.

    Have a nice Conference Brunch spread, eat good food (special for conference) while listening.

    I love reading your blog, even though I don't often comment.

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  55. I'm not a parent, but I am ((almost)) an elementary school teacher studying at BYU. One thing one of my amazing teachers had us try this Conference was "Art-based notes"--drawing pictures of what you hear. A classmate of mine had her little siblings do it with her (age 5 and 8) and it worked beautifully! It was incredible to see how they really did understand the messages of the talks and how they could show it by drawing pictures. It's a great way to keep kids engaged, especially if they get cool stuff like new crayons :) You might have to model it by doing it by them the first time, but I did it for own notes for a couple talks and I thought it was a great experience. A lot of fun and proven in the education world!

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  56. We found this year that reverse conference bingo worked way better than regular bingo. So, the kids fill up the whole card with tokens (we use fruit loops - way less messy than chocolate, and very slightly nutritious (fibre?)), and then when they hear one of their bingo words, they eat the fruit loop covering that word and then replace it. It makes it easier for them to stay focused if they have an immediate reward for hearing the word instead of having to wait for a whole line of 5 words in a row.

    Also, setting up tents/forts around the TV is a hit, and we also don't require them to stay in the room for Saturday sessions, just the Sunday ones. And they're welcome to play quietly with toys or color if they are tired of bingo.

    Finally, make them run around outside between sessions, that helps get some of their energy out!

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  57. I'm sure my grandpa would love to discover the secret to keeping his kids quiet too which is extra bad(am I bad person for Thinking it was funny too?) because they are all in their 50s. Due to some circumstances my whole family was there Saturday and he was yelling "shhh" and " quiet in there" every couple min.

    My sister likes to get the whole conference packets going. They have multiple things, not just bingo. Other than that, her kids roam free about the house.

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  58. We keep it pretty simple. Our children only have to sit through as many talks as their age. Our two year old was able to sit through two talks (and they don't even have to be in a row) while our 4 year old sat through 4 talks, and our 8 year old did a pretty good job listening to 8 entire talks (she does the little bingo game thing) Otherwise I let them play in the toy room where they can't be disruptive.

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  59. Now that my kids are older, we usually just have our kids watch a sunday morning session, then use the rest of the talks from Saturday, priesthood and Sunday afternoon as Family Home Evening Lessons. Everyone gets blankets and pillows and we just sit around as a family. Sometimes I have to reign in my teenagers who try to sneak off but for the most part they do well now.

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  60. I have 8 kids between the ages of 11 years and 20 months, so you can probably imagine how Conference Weekend usually plays out for us.
    We invite the kids to grab their pillows and blankets and grab a place on the living room floor. Sometimes I print out activity sheets (Tons of time & printer ink if you have as many kids as we do), but typically I buy those huge Crayola coloring pages for the kids to work on.
    To keep them somewhat focused on the speakers, we pick two different "key words" for each session. Each time that they hear the key word, they get a candy. The words are usually like prophet, temple, church, missionary, or Jesus (or any variation of Jesus Christ -but if you use this one, be prepared with a LOT of candy!). We've had to set up some rules, because they seem to get pretty excited about hearing a word (can't be that they're excited to get a piece of candy), and they'll say, "I heard ___________! I heard it, I heard it, I heard it!", or they raise their hands in desperation, as if we won't see them. Our rules are that they can't say anything, they can only raise their hand when they hear the keyword. If they say anything, they lose that candy. If they see their sibling raise their hand, and although they didn't hear it, they raise their hand too, they lose the chance to earn candy for a specified amount of time.
    Good luck figuring out something that will work for your family! You have six months to work on it. ;)

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  61. This looks lovely! I would love to recreate this in my home. Where did you get your tree blocks and mirror blocks? Links to where such toys can be purchased would be a great help. MyKidsGuide

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