The summer is quickly coming to a close- almost as quickly as it began. For some of us, including the parents and teachers among us, the end of summer means one thing: back to school.
This is a bittersweet moment: it marks the end of carefree family time, enjoying fewer stresses and pressures than during the rest of the year; but it also marks the return to routine! After a two-month break, many parents know “It’s time” to return to school- to channel all that creativity more into learning rather than antics.
With this return of routine comes a desire to capitalize on this routine. It is its own kind of “New Year”: hopes of balanced schedules, quality family time, consistency. It is a perfect moment to reflect to see how to map out the various pieces of life and how to fit them together.
Of all these pieces, there is one that is vital: prayer. Fitting in prayer can be a challenge, regardless of where you are on your faith journey. It is a common experience to all of us: how can I find time to pray in an already busy day, stacked tall with work, family, activities…and how can make prayer a part of our family’s daily life?
Here are a few offerings that could help to integrate prayer into daily life.
- It starts with you. Look at how you are trying to bring prayer into your own life. Children and Adolescents have a sixth sense when it comes to authenticity- they learn best by example and seeing what they learn lived out. With that in mind, take some time to reflect: how do I live my own prayer life, and what is my attitude towards prayer? What might my kids be picking up from my example of prayer?
- Set a prayer routine for yourself. Set some goals of where you might like to grow. Set aside time each day that you can use exclusively for personal prayer. The key is to find a time when your mind is able to focus on prayer. I know one mother who gets up before her kids to pray as she sips her coffee. I know another who waits until her kids have gone to school and the house is quiet. Find what works for you, start simple, and be consistent.
- Start simple. If you are starting from scratch when it comes to family prayer, start simple. Going from nothing to a full family rosary might be a little overwhelming for everyone involved. Pick a moment and what type of prayer you might like to do. Many families I know have a night prayer routine- with simple prayers everyone knows, offering them up for various intentions. Other families I know make use of car time: rather than switching on the radio or playlist first thing, they will offer their day to God, perhaps say one decade of the rosary, or pray for people who need extra grace.
- Be Consistent. Kids, and people in general, thrive off fulfilled expectations. It will take time and effort in the beginning to make prayer part of your family schedule. But it will teach that prayer is not an extra, but something that is worth the time you spend on it. And as it becomes more habitual, you can also build in more moments of prayer, or perhaps extend it. As your children grow, family prayer should also be able to grow and evolve!