**General Conference is a special meeting in our church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) that is held twice a year in Utah and broadcast throughout the world. Leaders of the Church share messages for both members and non-members. If you’d like to check it out, all are welcome to listen at lds.org. Mormon.org is also a great resource if you have questions about the Sunday topics we share at This Blue Dress.
General Conference might not be the blissful, calm spiritual experience now that is was when Joey and I were newlyweds, but our children can bring a special dynamic to Conference that is really sweet if we plan well.
And yes, by planning well it can mean prepping activities at 11 PM the night before like I did this year. I’ve been trying to prepare my children to be taught at Conference every day as we pray, read scriptures, and share our testimonies. But sometimes I have to work on the physical prep for Conference in the quiet hours when the children are sleeping!
I’d like to share some thoughts from the trenches of General Conference with little ones (our children are 3, 5, 6, and 8). I’ll be praying that all of our children can feel the Spirit as we listen to inspired messages from Heavenly Father.
General Conference is Sweet
Our family has tried to make General Conference a special family holiday from the beginning, and in many ways it seems to be working! At least our children seem to look forward to the cinnamon rolls and activities about the talks. 🙂 I’ve always loved the theme “Conference is Sweet” and have tried to apply that to our family Conference traditions.
When Conference is on Easter, we love to hide eggs that match with different parts of the meeting or speakers. Another sweet activity is Apostle Bags! These were a huge hit with our children in April although my bags were more generic than this cute example from News with Naylor’s.
This doesn’t mean your traditions have to be all about treats!! But a focus on how Conference is a special, sweet time can go a long way. I love this compilation by The Red Headed Hostess of family traditions for General Conference. Do you see an idea you’d like to try?
Preparing Our Hearts and Home
Like many families, we make a list of questions we would like to receive answers to during Conference. These make great discussion topics after Conference is over. We also try to make our house in order to invite the Spirit and avoid distracting to-dos.
Our family also keeps Conference weekend free from other commitments that would keep us from attending or listening to all of the sessions. Sometimes that can require significant planning and even sacrifice of favorite activities in today’s busy world! It has been worth it for our family.
Physical Activity and Picnics
Planning physical activity before and in-between the sessions has helped our children be more attentive and reverent during Conference. In the past, we’ve had a trampoline pizza party, dance parties, car wash, and a family soccer game on Saturdays. This year we’re going to take a family bike ride at the park on Saturday afternoon and a long Sunday walk.
When our children were tiny, we loved watching Conference outside on a laptop. Now our kids can’t resist the call of the yard or toys. We try to get outside before and after sessions instead. Picnics make Conference extra special and give us that break outside–plus they keep our house from getting messy from the meal! If the weather is too crazy we bring the picnics inside, but we’ve almost always been blessed with beautiful Conference weekends.
Activities During Conference
It’s exciting to live in a time with so many resources to make General Conference special for kids! It’s also easy to get overwhelmed by the options or to feel pressure to make your setup ah-ma-zing.
You know your kids and what activities will likely work best for your family!
Don’ be afraid to keep it simple!
Building a fort or tent like the people of King Benjamin to listen to Conference = Awesome!
In my house, this would = Disaster.
Finding the right balance between an activity that is engaging without being distracting is still a process of trial and error. We’ve built block temples, made play-doh, used gospel art, sewing cards, etc. in the past with varying levels of success. My children consistently love Conference Bingo, and they all love to draw or use other visual aids that match the topics. They also love little rewards and treats when they are trying to be attentive.
This is the main activity set (with a General Conference Store) that my family is using for General Conference this year from The Red Headed Hostess. I’m excited for my children to use it! If you need something easy to prep but with “sweet” factor for your kids, this fits the bill! I’m going to use some healthy snack options for our General Conference store with one or two treats. I’m also preparing a few dollar store surprises for reverent behavior as it gets more difficult over the weekend. (Update: This activity worked great for our family, and we used the set for April 2018 General Conference also!)
Keep Trying, Keep Trying
It’s the morning of Conference. I was going to hit publish after the last section, but I needed to add this. My children have been crazy contentious this morning in spite of good sleep, fun plans, and prayerful prep. It would be so easy to get angry at their ingratitude and throw out our plans, turn on a movie in another room, and enjoy General Conference with my husband in semi-peace. (And if this is your plan, I totally understand. You do you! You know what your family needs!)
But my husband Joey and I have made a commitment to help our children listen to all of the sessions with us. I hope our efforts to include our children help them see how much we value the words of our Prophet and other leaders. Parenting is no picnic, and General Conference with kids isn’t always either. I have faith that both of these hard things are worth it. You’ve got this, parents–because Heavenly Father will help you and will help me.
Every family is different, and your family’s approach to Conference might be far different from ours–and that’s ok! I’d love to hear your thoughts on what makes General Conference a special time for your family!
Looking for more posts about General Conference? You’ll love these simple ways to study the Conference messages!