Preparing for Lent with Kids

Monday, March 3, 2014

Lent is actually one of my favorite parts of the year.  It sounds strange because we often think of Lent as a time of discomfort and sacrifice, as we give up vices and fast.  But I find Lent to be a great time to refocus my life on the Lord and become holier. 

Catholic Culture has this very informative Lenten Workshop, with links to information, activities, and prayers. 

As the girls are still so young, I haven't included them in many Lenten practices in the past.  But this year I want to start some traditions for our family that emphasize the importance of these 40 days before the joy and celebration of Easter.  

Lenten Calendar

Printable Lent Calendar
Catholic Icing
We used this printable Lent calendar from Catholic Icing last year, and it was a great way for Grace, who was 3, to track the 40 days and special feast days, like Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday, Good Friday, etc.  All you have to do is print it out.  Pretty easy!  There is also this one from Holy Family Classical Academy.

Below are some other ideas for including kids in practicing Lent.  They are organized under the 6 principle works of Lent.

Principle Works of Lent

1.  Fasting

Children aren't obligated to fast during Lent, but they can fast in very minimal ways.  For example, they could give up special treats or drinks or not have dessert.  They could also focus on not complaining about meals.  This is one that Grace could definitely try!

2.  Prayer

Lenten Prayer Chain
Reasons to Praise God
As a family, we have prayer time before meals and bedtime, but Lent is a good time to add to those traditions.  We can add special Lenten intentions during our nightly prayers. 

Another idea, that I'm sure my kids will love, is to create a Lenten prayer chain, like the one to the right.  Simply cut out 40 strips and write a person to pray for on each one.  Then, staple into a circle and create a chain.  Each day, take off one link and say a special prayer for that person.  Mary from Reasons to Praise God also adds an Our Father and a Hail Mary for each petition.  Such a great idea!

As I was making our Lenten chain, I created this header using graphics from We Lived Happily Ever After.  

 CLICK HERE to print the 40 Days of Lent chain header.

Part of my own Lenten plan is to pray a rosary everyday.  Grace can pray the rosary with me using her own children's rosary, and it can be beneficial for the toddlers to hear prayers, even if they can't say them just yet. 

3.  Almsgiving

Almsgiving means charity, or giving of our money, time, or goods to others.  

As a family, we are starting an Almsgiving box to collect food, household items, toys, etc. to donate.  

As Pope Francis said in his Lenten message, "I distrust a charity that costs nothing and does not hurt."  That means not just donating food we don't like or old happy meal toys.  Our acts of charity should require sacrifice and be a challenge.  

We also have a jar to save money as a family for a special charity.  If you want to do the same, Catholic Relief Services, Catholic Charities, and Heifer International are a few of my favorites.

If you'd like to print and use my Lenten Almsgiving labels, just click below:

Small label (for jars)
Large label (for boxes)

4.  Good Works

Good works can include charity, like helping someone or doing a good deed.  According to Catholic Culture, it also involves doing our regular duties to the best of our abilities.  As a mother, that means striving to be patient and calm with the children, and going about housework with a positive attitude, serving God through serving my family. 

For the children, this could mean not complaining, doing chores without being asked, or being kind to siblings.  It would probably be good for them to focus on just one, so that this does not become overwhelming.  

5.  Education

What better time than Lent to learn more about our faith?    
Lenten Adventure
Holy Heroes

We plan on reading bible stories from the Gospel that will culminate with Jesus' death and resurrection on Good Friday and Easter.  

Another fun, easy way for kids to learn during Lent is through Holy Heroes Lenten Adventure.  It is free!  All you have to do is sign up with your email, and you will receive 3 emails each week that provide activities and learning for each day of Lent.  I'm excited to try it this year. 

6.  Self-denial

Giving up something can test us, but it should also help purify our soul.  Keeping this in mind helps me stick to it, and get back on board if I happen to falter. 

For kids, self-denial could mean putting away a favorite toy for the period of Lent.  It could also be limiting or eliminating TV, video games, or time on the tablet or computer.  Kids could also choose to give up desserts or treats.  

It might be easier to hold everyone accountable by displaying their sacrifices, like the Lenten Sacrifice Garland below by Karen's Adventures in Mommyland.

Lenten Sacrifice Garland
Karen's Adventures in Mommyland

I always find it easier to stick to a plan if I write it down.  If you'd like to use the printable Lenten Plan worksheet I created

Have a peaceful and fruitful Lenten season!

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