My friend leaned over to me in Sunday School yesterday and said something like, “You are doing a General Conference post right? I need you to post some ideas… like tomorrow. Could you get on that?”
Lucky for her it is Mormon Monday and I didn’t have another plan. So I am on it, just for my friend, Sarah.
But she and you should know I didn’t start thinking about this post until that moment in Sunday School so don’t get too excited. I don’t have anything way unique or any great pictures, but I do hope to get us thinking. And I am hoping you will share all of your ideas in the comment section because it is always fun to have lots of ideas to choose from. Different ideas work for different families.
So let me back up to what General Conference is for my non-Mormon readers.
Every 6 months our church comes together world-wide over a Saturday and a Sunday. We gather together in our homes and in our church buildings to hear the latest counsel from our prophet, our apostles and other leaders of our church. Their messages are piped to us over the television, internet, satellite or radio transmission in 5 different sessions.
I love Conference because I don’t have to shower; I don’t have to juggle 4 kids by myself, I get to snuggle my husband; my brain gets to think and my heart gets to feel. And we get to hear living prophets speak.
First let me say that we do not make our children watch all of the sessions. But I do NOT want my kids to be that college roommate that didn’t realize Conference started on Saturday until they got to school. So when the prophet speaks on Saturday morning my kids are there. I call them in from wherever they are and we listen to the prophet as a family.
Then I have my kids start the Saturday afternoon session with us too. I want them present to sustain the prophet, apostles, and other leaders of the church. After we have sustained our leaders, I let them go play.
We for sure have all the kids watch the Sunday morning session and often the Sunday afternoon session depending on their age. Again, if the prophet speaks in the last session, I call all my kids to gather around the TV and we listen to our prophet.
We have even been known to go to our Stake Center on Sunday to watch a session. You are less likely to fall asleep and you do seem to take revelation and promptings and counsel more seriously when you are dressed in your Sunday best gathered at the church as opposed to eating cinnamon rolls in your pajamas on your bean bag. Don’t get me wrong. I love that part about Conference too. I’m just saying there is something to be physically prepared to hear a message.
Here are a few of our General Conference traditions:
One of our earliest traditions as a new family was to talk about King Benjamin at the FHE before Conference. Then we would pitch a tent in our backyard on Friday night before Conference just like the people did to hear King Benjamin speak. We made sure the door faced our house just like their doors faced the temple. We talked about how we were gathering to hear a prophet speak just like King Benjamin’s people did. We then slept in the tent.
We did this for several years but have kind of fizzled the last year. We want to start up again so that Locke has these fun memories too. I would recommend doing this tradition only once a year either at the Fall or Spring Conference.
We like to print packets so the kids have different activities to work on throughout the sessions. We love the packets from Sugardoodle because they have activities for older and younger children as well as teens. But I also found some activities provided by our church as well. Click here for those.
We set up shop for the kids with a table, or TV trays, or little tray tables we found at Hobby Lobby so the kids are ready to learn.
The packets helps the kids stay focused and engaged. Bingo is always one of our favorites.
The last few years we have ripped out the sheet in the middle of the Conference edition of the Ensign that has the pictures of the First Presidency, the apostles and the Seventy. We post the sheet near the TV. Every time someone speaks that is on the sheet, a child puts a sticker on his face. This helps the kids learn names and faces and have something to keep track of.
And of course I can’t speak of traditions without bringing up food. I remember donuts and cinnamon rolls as a kid on General Conference mornings. And I also remember that my dad would faithfully take donuts to his home teaching families every Conference. Chad has tried to follow that home teacher tradition as well. Although I have made several yummy General Conference breakfasts, I am still trying to figure out my signature Conference dish.
And lastly, I think post Conference Family Home Evenings are also an important General Conference tradition. You can pick a different talk each Monday night over the course of the year. You can read the talks with your spouse. (See this post.) You could play Jeopardy with questions made up from General Conference talks. Or you could hold a family testimony meeting the Monday night after Conference so family members can share their feelings and inspiration.
This year I plan to give each child a chance to play newscaster and report on something they learned during Conference. I am going to make sure I have a fake microphone, badge and video camera to make the reporter feel legit.
Well, that’s all I got folks. So what are your General Conference traditions? Sarah and I would love to hear them as families are always evolving and changing. Thanks in advance!