Praying with little children in and of itself is a major feat. Praying the Rosary seems impossible. It isn’t though. I’m definitely not saying that it is easy, because it isn’t that either. Praying the Rosary with littles takes a whole lot of patience and maybe some adjusting of your expectations.
Every child is obviously different, and so what may work for one child may not work for the next. Now throw in the fact that you have 5 children of varying ages and we’re back to thinking it is impossible.
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Here are 12 ways of praying the Rosary with your littles and 7 ways of making time for saying the Rosary to make it seem less like a chore.
1. Adjust your expectations
Before we have children, we have these lofty expectations and dreams of what praying with children will look like. Little angels kneeling with straight backs, keeping track of decades, completely quiet with a peaceful atmosphere. Fast forward 10 years, you have 5 children under 9, 2 toddlers and an infant. The baby is fussy, the toddlers are either getting into everything or throwing 3 consecutive tantrums, the older children are lounging on the couch, and it all feels anything, but peaceful.
The best advice I can give is just to realize that even when nothing seems to be going right and no one is behaving as they should. God sees you. He sees you, your efforts, your patience, and He is proud of you. You put out the fires, you admonish the slouchers, and you keep going. God wants effort.
Give the infant a teething rosary or say the rosary while they nurse or take a bottle. Give the toddlers an activity that they can do or if they’re under two let them just come in and out. If your child is 3-5 years old maybe let them sit for a few decades but have them kneel for one or two.
2. Eliminate unnecessary distractions
This one can be hard because sometimes it is all about timing. Sometimes that timing includes a busy distracting place or just time of day. This tip isn’t referring to those moments.
Eliminating the distractions means, turn off the TV, the computer, and put your phone away. Turn off the music. If you are allowing your toddlers to play with toys or activities, put away the instruments and the obnoxious noise makers.
This also means that you might wait to start the dishwasher if it is loud and in the same room. Make sure that everyone has had a drink of water and they used the bathroom. Bring diapers and wipes to where you will be in case a change is necessary. All of these will help keep your family focused on the rosary.
3. Teach your child the prayers according to their age and ability
Although I do believe that age should give us an idea of when a child may be ready to learn the prayers, I think this is mostly subjective. I know a 2-year-old that could recite the Hail Mary in Latin, whereas my oldest didn’t speak until he was almost 3.
Expose them to the prayers, help them to say it in bite-sized phrases, and when they are ready allow them to lead just one Hail Mary at a time.
I had a follower on my Instagram recently recommend Louie the Lamb. It is a stuffed animal that she has used to help teach her children how to say the Our Father, the Hail Mary, and the Glory Be. I will definitely be getting one for my 3-year-old this year for Christmas.
4. Allow your children to lead a decade
I say this for two reasons. Firstly, if you are trying to teach your children to say the rosary, the best way to do so is to let them say the Hail Mary 10 times in a row. You may have to help them through it, but at least they are learning to say it and learning to lead it as well.
Secondly, it gives a nice change of pace. Sometimes hearing the same person say the same thing 200 times is monotonous and can lead to distraction. When each child leads a different decade, they bring a new energy.
My sister recommended having the children lead a decade in ascending age. For example, right now her 4-year-old leads the 1st, her 6-year-old leads the 2nd, her 9-year-old leads the 3rd, she leads the 4th, and her husband leads the 5th. When her 2-year-old starts leading the decade, she told me her husband will get booted, and so on. I think this is a very smart way to do it.
5. Encourage your children to kneel during the rosary
I definitely feel as though sometimes we focus too much on the aesthetic. Does it really matter in the long run whether or not someone kneels? No. But it does do two things. Firstly, it gives another dimension of reverence to our Lord. We can show Him that we care about the Rosary through our posture and keeping our thoughts from distraction.
It also can be a little sacrifice that we make for Jesus. I know that there have been some Lents that I have given up using a kneeler at Church and decided to kneel on the hard tile floor instead for penance. You could encourage your child to make a similar sacrifice.
“Johnny, I know it is the end of a long day, but how about we kneel during the Rosary and offer up our little sufferings for Jesus. He died on the Cross for us, but we can unite our suffering with Him.”
6. Get your children their own special rosaries and how to care for them
This idea works so well, especially if you have children that tend to fight over things a lot. This past year for Christmas I asked my mother-in-law, who makes rosaries, if she would make each of the kids their own rosary in the colors of their choice. We have no more bickering because everyone has their special rosary that Grandma made.
Chews Life is one of my favorite small businesses to buy rosaries from. I have bought at least half a dozen from them. I love buying the teething rosaries for my godchildren that I give to them at their baptism. I am getting a beautiful rosary bracelet for my goddaughter/niece, who is celebrating her first holy communion this spring.
I mentioned how to care for them because my children like to swing them around, wear them like necklaces, whip their siblings in the face, throw them around the room, etc. We should teach our children what it stands for, how important it is, how we show reverence to Jesus when we use it correctly, and how we kiss the crucifix when we begin praying with it, when we finish praying with it, and when it falls on the ground.
7. Allow your young children to use religious activities to keep them preoccupied, such as: coloring pages, rosary board books, images, quiet books, and maybe simple crafts.
I don’t think it is a good idea to go too overboard with this. I believe having a bin of designated toys and books for the young ones to play with can be so helpful. If you are going to adopt this tip, just remember to be consistent. We were so good about them only playing with the toys designated, but now they play with any toy they can find.
There are tons of other resources for crafts, books, and coloring books for the Rosary as well. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Rosary Book by Catholic Sprouts
- Rosary Coloring Book by MeyerMarketDesigns on Etsy
- Shining Light Dolls has an amazing collection of really great toys
8. Have your rosaries in a central prominent place in your home
Having them in a central location in your home shows your children that you care about the Rosary. It also will better remind you to say it every day.
9. Start small and make your way up to a full rosary
Dedicating 20minutes of uninterrupted time is hard. Especially with little kids that have the attention span of fruit flies. Start with saying an Our Father, a Hail Mary, and a Glory Be every morning with your kids when they wake up (or when you’re blessing your breakfast) and then say an Our Father, a Hail Mary, and Glory Be with your kids at bedtime.
Gradually incorporate saying a decade in the evening with the family. Then move to 2 decades, and then 3. Before you know it, you will be saying a Rosary every night and your kids will be fighting over who gets to lead the decades.
10. Make saying the rosary a priority in your home
This is one of the most important principles of praying the rosary with your kids. Kids thrive with consistency. They love routine and making the Rosary part of your routine will show your children that it is priority. It is important, just like brushing their teeth, taking their vitamins or medicine, eating, going to bed at a decent hour, etc.
We want our kids to grow up saying how their fondest memories were kneeling in front of the family altar praying the Rosary.
11. Set the Right Atmosphere
This may look different for everyone. It also kind of goes with eliminating distractions because setting the atmosphere usually includes eliminating distractions. This also could include lighting candles. My sister recommends lighting a candle for each child so that if they behave well, they can each blow one out. It also gives them something to look at. Another change you could make is dedicating a certain place in the house as the prayer space. We have a family altar that we pray the Rosary in front of and it helps to set a peaceful mood when we are all kneeling in front of it with the candles lit.
12. Don’t Give Up
This is one of the most important aspects of praying the Rosary with little children. Don’t give up. Don’t let one or hundred “bad” experiences in praying the Rosary deter you from continuing to make it a part of your family life. My friend, Nicole, reminded me of this. She said, “one day you might look up and realize you’ve all said it together without any problems.” It is absolutely true. Remember discouragement from saying the Rosary never comes from God.
Here are 7 ways my family and I make time for the rosary
1. Rosary walks
This is my husband and my favorite way to incorporate the Rosary in our family. Somedays when the kids are stir-crazy or they’ve been bickering all day or when we just want to stretch our legs, we jump at the chance of going on a Rosary walk.
When I was little one of my fondest memories was going on long Rosary walks with my family. My dad would light up a cigar after we were finished and those were some of the best summer nights. Right now, it is chilly outside, but I love grabbing a coat and praying the Rosary by myself. It gets us out in the fresh air, moving our bodies, and strengthening our souls.
2. Rosary drive
My husband grew up going on Rosary drives with his family, so of course we have adopted this tradition as well. This works really well when we have kids that are overtired but will not fall asleep. We will throw the kids in the car, pray the rosary, and hope them fall asleep.
We also tend to say the Rosary in the car on drives over 30min, which we do every weekend to my mother-in-law’s house. Road trips are also a great opportunity to even get all 15 decades said. If you’re in the car for 8 hours, you might as well use 45minutes of it praying the Rosary. This is a great opportunity to utilize number 7 on this list.
3. Make it a part of the routine
This was touched on above, but very important so it makes it on the list twice. If it is something you say during morning or night prayers it will be very easy to remember. We can tell our kids “Bedtime” and they know that means it is time to pray the Rosary, even the 3-year-old.
4. Say it while putting a child down for bed
The other night I realized how easy and helpful it was. My 18-month-old took a late nap and so 10:30pm came around and he still wasn’t tired, but it was past bedtime. So, I took him into my bed and we prayed 2 decades of the rosary before he fell asleep. It worked great.
5. Say it while waiting
I have found that waiting at the doctor’s office, the dentist, for my car, etc. Are great times to grab your rosary or just use your hands. When do we not have to wait at least 20minutes to be seen when at the doctors? I never regret praying the rosary over scrolling on my phone… Ever.
6. Say it in times of stress (planes, trains, and bus rides; getting a cavity filled, etc.)
I get crazy anxiety getting fillings done at the dentist. I had to last week and I have to tell you I was offering up my “suffering” and anxiety, and I said at least 3 decades of the rosary. I also tend to pray the Rosary at take-off when I fly or in inclement weather.
7. Listen to it on an app
I like praying the Rosary on my own, but when I’m doing another activity with it, like nursing an infant, doing the dishes, etc. I will use an app to help keep my place. I like listening to it on the Hallow app, but there are a lot of other apps that have it as well.
I know how hard praying the rosary with littles can be. Just remember that any effort will be rewarded and that our Lord doesn’t expect perfection. I also know that the more you do it, the easier it will get.
If you have any other suggestions that I haven’t included, leave a message below. I’d love to learn more ways of praying the rosary with my littles.