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Lisa Henley Jones found a seemingly simple way to make Sunday mornings go more smoothly for her little girl.

Every week, I heard my daughter, Birdie, cry, “I don’t know what to wear to church!” Ahh, the agony of dealing with an upset child while trying to get everyone in the house ready for Mass. I couldn’t understand her confusion or dilemma. She dressed herself each weekday for kindergarten, so why was Sunday Mass such a struggle?  

“Just pick a dress or something cute from your closet,” I’d yell upstairs.  More wailing and tears reached my ears as I trudged upstairs to pull out three dresses for her to select from. Yet these given choices always induced more anxiety and tears. After many prayers and cajoling, we’d finally rush out the door with the family for Mass. 




One day, while we were out shopping, an idea suddenly came to me. What if Birdie picked out a new dress just for church?  “It will be a church dress so you always know what to wear on Sundays,” I said gleefully, hoping this would help our Sunday mornings go more smoothly.  

With lots of encouragement, she agreed and selected a cute, purple, sparkly sweater dress. And it worked! When Sunday rolled around, Birdie was excited to put on her “church dress” for Mass.  This thrilled me to no end. 

 The next Sunday, and the next, and then the next, our mornings went so much smoother getting out the door for Mass. Birdie liked the idea of the church dress so much that she wore the same dress every Sunday to Mass.  

At first it seemed a bit weird to me. She wore the exact same thing every week. What if people noticed?  But then I realized her fussiness and temper tantrums were gone on Sunday mornings. We were getting out the door without tears from her or pleading from me.  Who cares what people might think (if they even noticed)?  

As the seasons changed, Birdie selected a new church dress to wear on Sundays and our Sunday mornings remained easier.  Our tradition of “church dress” lasted for many years—dare I say, even into her pre-teen years.   


Click to tweet:
We were getting out the door without tears from her or pleading from me.  Who cares what people might think (if they even noticed)? #CatholicMom


Now as a teenager, she can’t quite put into words exactly what that “church dress” meant to her.  She barely remembers a time before she had one. As for me, I’m still unsure why choosing what to wear each Sunday was such a challenge compared to getting dressed for school. I just know she was much happier starting Sundays having something special ready and waiting for her. 

Maybe you have a little “Birdie” in your family. What has worked to help getting ready for Mass go more smoothly? 



Copyright 2023 Lisa Henley Jones
Images: Canva