In this week’s blog post, contributor Kaitlyn Mason shares 11 creative ideas for family prayer time with toddlers and young children. If you are a parent of toddlers or have toddlers in your life, read on for some fun strategies!
I’ve talked to a lot of moms who struggle with creating or maintaining a prayer time with toddlers and young children. Our family has found a couple of ways to make family prayer time more enticing and more relaxing for everyone. So, I thought I’d take a moment to share what’s working for our family.
- Authors Michele Faehnle & Emily Jaminet suggest praying the rosary while you do housework using an abacus. You can reach up and slide a wooden bead over with a wooden spoon as you do dishes, or between folding towels. Say the prayers out loud as your children pray nearby & they can join in, too. You can walk away to tend to your home, come back, and know right where you are.
- You can also use an abacus to pray a rosary sitting with your children. This could be especially helpful if you’re trying to start the routine of a nightly family rosary. Children are drawn to bright colors and fun beads. I sit the toddler in my lap who will be “leading” the rosary that decade, then point to a bead when it’s time to slide it along. The other children are eagerly waiting for their turn to lead.
- We recently put a nice glass bowl full of decade rosaries on our kitchen table. (They’re next to novena candles of Jesus & Mary and our 19 month old just started feeding his cornbread to them…) Try to incorporate a decade of the rosary with grace before each meal. You may find that you have meditated on 3 decades before bedtime!
- Try a chocolate chip rosary! Give each child 11 chocolate chips and arrange 10 of them in a circle for the 10 Hail Marys, with one Our Father bead below. Say grace before your meal, then let the kids eat one bead at a time while you pray as a pre-lunch dessert! Both our 2 year old and 4 year old knew exactly where we were as we prayed through this decade, because their hand was eagerly on the next chocolate “bead” waiting to eat it! “Amen” was said full of joy because that was their cue to eat a bead. This also works with other yummy kid snacks like: blackberries, raspberries, raisins, craisins, Goldfish, etc.
- Place your rosaries on a towel rack or peg down low in your living room. Our children are drawn to them and sometimes ask me to take them down for them as they play.
- Encourage children to hold or keep a rosary under their pillow at night. They can also keep a prayer card under their pillow of something special to them.
- Don’t hide prayer cards in a drawer. Keep them out for children to see, so they can become familiar with sacred images and art.
- Get to know more about the World Mission Rosary, and buy some for your family! (Autom sells them in 24 packs that you can share with other families here). As you pray the rosary, pray for a different area of the world. Green beads in the first decade are for Africa, yellow is for the rising sun of Asia, white is for the seat of the Holy Father in Europe, red is for the blood of the martyrs of the Americas, and blue is for the oceanic regions of the world. This is especially great to pray as you pray a Divine Mercy chaplet, because you can focus on God showing mercy to each area of the world while you pray through the words “have mercy on us and on the whole world.”
- Bring the mysteries of the rosary to life through storytelling. Every time we announce a mystery, or choose one for our mealtime decade, our 4 year old asks, “Can you tell me the story of this one?” Add as much depth and excitement as time allows.
- To help us bring the mysteries to life, keep a stack of rosary guides with beautiful pictures and Bible verses for each mystery in a kitchen drawer. My favorite is “The Rosary with Luminous Mysteries: My Daily Devotion to Mary, the Mother of God.” (I’ve only been able to find it here).
- Have a toddler who can’t get to sleep? Lay at their side and pray a rosary with them. When it’s really time to sleep, you may want to be the one holding the beads so they can drift to sleep peacefully.
These ideas have helped us completely transform our family prayer time. We pray that these ideas will inspire you to try some new ways of praying in your own home! God bless!
Copyright 2018 Kaitlyn Mason