Forget January; August has always been the time when I take stock of my life and make all the resolutions (reasonable or otherwise). There’s something about the Back-to-School season for moms that is intensely motivating; this is our chance to create order from the (summer break) chaos. That’s why so many of us are scouring the internet for “morning routine hacks” so we can start the school day off right. We all want peaceful mornings. And while I won’t claim to have found the secret sauce for that, there is one thing that has brought more order to our day: morning prayers.
We’ve always prayed as a family each night before bedtime, but a year or two ago I was feeling frustrated because our family prayer time was always interrupted or shortened by overly tired and crabby kids. I knew that’s not the experience of family prayer that I wanted for our kids, so we shortened our night-time prayer routine and added morning prayers to our day. It made a huge difference not just in our mornings, but throughout the day; when we start the day with prayer, it’s much easier for us to stop and pray at other points, too.
Our morning prayer has changed a little throughout the last few years as life changes impacted our mornings. When our oldest was a baby, I used to pray my Morning Offering and the Canticle of Zechariah out loud as I changed her diaper and dressed her. Those two prayers have been pillars in my own prayer life, so we decided that we would start there for our family morning prayers and build around them. When I was working and our oldest was in school, we did our morning prayers in the car together and also shared intentions with each other. Now that we homeschool, we do our morning prayers at the kitchen table (after breakfast and before mom’s second cup of coffee) and we talk about a mystery of the Rosary and then pray it together.
If your family doesn’t have a morning prayer routine — or if it needs a boost — what could it look like in your home?
If you sit down and eat breakfast together, you could use that time to read the Gospel for the day, or choose a Gospel or another book of the Bible and read one chapter out loud together.
If you all share a bathroom and everyone is standing in front of the mirror brushing hair and teeth, then tape the Morning Offering on your mirror and recite it together. If your family loves music, create a couple of playlists of hymns and worship songs that you can play through the house to start the day with joyful noise. One family I know blesses each child as they leave the house for the day, offering a silent prayer of protection for them. If it doesn’t seem possible to get everyone in the same place at the same time, you might still choose certain prayers that are “your” family prayers that everyone prays at some point in their morning, like the Breastplate of St. Patrick, or the Suscipe of St. Ignatius of Loyola, or a Prayer to the Holy Spirit. When I was growing up, my brother duct taped a laminated copy of the Morning Offering onto our shower wall; it reminded him to pray the Offering, but it got the other eight of us praying it daily, too.
As we arm ourselves with new planners, lunchboxes, and life hacks, don’t forget that the best days start with prayer, and the best thing we can teach our kids is how to pray.
Copyright 2019 Megan Swaim