Have you ever tried praying the Rosary with little kids around? Maybe the sheer thought of that overwhelms you (me too!) or maybe you're ready to take on the challenge.
Family prayer time can look so different for every family, in every stage of life. We often go through phases where we do really well with a certain form of family prayer, and then have a couple disasters that set us back for a while. Our attempts at praying a family Rosary (or decade) is often filled with restless kids, fighting over who gets to lead, and a younger kiddo crawling on top of everyone. Occasionally, someone does something laughable, and we let the Spirit take over with some Holy Laughter until we regain our composure enough to continue, and that's ok too!
While we've learned to be flexible in our family prayer and not demand picture-perfect Instagram moments every time, I know it can still be immensely helpful to learn from other parents, and find a few tips and tricks to make prayer time a little more...prayerful :)
1. Don't overthink it. Remember you are praying with tiny humans who can barely finish a sentence (if they can even start one) or who's entire world collapses when they get the wrong color cup. Set your expectations low, and remember its ok if even those aren't met. The important thing for kids to realize, is that everyone is together, and that their family is making it a priority to talk to God, even if just for a few minutes.
2. Set the environment. It's amazing how excited and focused kids can become when you dim the lights and light a candle or two. They know right away that something different and special is happening, and it immediately draws them in to whatever you're doing. Plus, they get to blow out candles when you're done, which we all know is big time fun for kids! Add in an special Hail Mary or Our Father blanket, and your kids might just cozy up for a bit.
3. Provide your kids with age-appropriate toys/tools. Use our Rosary Quiet book to give your little ones something to fiddle with that is still related to the prayers beings said. Additionally, there are so many rosaries now that are designed for babies and toddlers, making it safer for their tiny fingers to use. Let your little ones play with (or chew on) those rosaries that are designed for them, and provide your older kids with a special one they can call their own. It can also be helpful to set your own boundaries for toddlers, and decide how much you will allow them to wander off to play with other items. This is up to personal preference and what works for your family.
4. Use a guided prayer video. Don't be afraid to use technology to your advantage, especially when it assists with making family prayer more prayerful! We have wonderful pray-along videos for each mystery of the Rosary on our Youtube channel, and there are many others that are excellent too (try the Hallow video here)! Giving kids a visual while they're praying can be a great tool to keep them on track (especially during the Rosary, which becomes repetitive and easy to get lost during).
5. Don't give up! At least not forever. Cutting prayer time short when it has gotten out of control is one thing (and very likely to happen on occasion), but it is so important to always try again. Don't let the challenging nature of praying with kids keep you from trying. Let them know it is a priority, and that God wants to talk with us no matter the circumstances. Just keep bringing your family to Him.