Updated: Jul 7
Time and patience are two things parents don’t have enough of. The ideas shared in this article take little to no extra time and can give you more patience and peace.
I am not presenting myself as an expert in prayer. I live a messy, crazy life with a wild three-year-old. For example, while we were struggling at Mass recently, we were out in our church stairwell. My son looked up at a statue and exclaimed, “Mary!” I took that as a reminder to say, “Mother Mary, pray for us.” That one prayer request helped me refocus and feel so much lighter as I wrangled my Tasmanian devil. See the cartoon below if you don’t think Mary can empathize with parents.
Here are easy ideas to incorporate throughout the day:
Sincere Mealtime Prayers: By slowing down to say a meaningful prayer at each meal, you will hopefully be adding 2 to 3 prayers per day. Whether it is taking the time to say, “Bless us, oh, Lord...” at less than 70 mph or saying your original prayer, it is impactful.
Blessing Before School/Daycare: The 50% of the time that I remember to do this, I love it. I simply say something like, “May God help you and your friends learn and grow today and always,” while making the sign of the cross on my son’s forehead.
Thanks In Nature: Many of us spend a lot of time outside with our kids. You can just say something like, “Thank you, God, for this beautiful day,” or “Thank you God for showing us your love in nature,” as you walk with your children. (Previous FAITH blog post about finding God in nature)
Prayers From Reminders Around You: You can have your own frequent reminders for prayer. One for ours is that my son notices every siren that goes off. When he talks about the emergency vehicle, I say, “God, be with those who need help and those helping them.” If your child has bonded with a neighbor, you could pray for them when you pass their house. The examples go on and on.
Prayers at Bedtime: You can model a variety of types of prayer. I typically incorporate thanking God, expressing some prayer for us as parents, intercessory prayers for loved ones, any extra intercessions my son wants to add (often including four-legged family members), and possibly an “Our Father” or “Hail Mary”. We close with what I’ve heard called a “three breath prayer” by taking a deep breath and releasing it each time while saying one of the members of the Trinity (breath, “Father”, breath, “Son”, breath, “Holy Spirt, Amen”).
Some prayers of desperation get uttered in our family, such as, “God, help us be patient and caring with each other.” Every time I pray it allows me to refocus on what’s important: God’s love instead of whatever my kid just put in his hair. For more ideas to incorporate prayer in simple ways with kids, read this article.