Last week, I planned a little “family retreat” with Michael and the kids. It was somewhat badly timed, unfortunately, with us trying to leave town on Thursday night for my sister’s wedding in New Orleans. But we still did about half what I had planned–honestly quite a success with all things considered. I really enjoyed the conscious effort at faith formation for all of us, even though my kids are still so little and it may sound silly to do a “retreat” with them. I think that a lot of what goes into bringing your children up as Christians makes you as their parent a better Christian, because you have to know what you are trying to teach, and sometimes going back to those little basics and bringing them to a child’s level is just what we need. After all, we are called to a childlike faith, aren’t we?
I wrote the retreat to run from a Saturday through a Wednesday. In general, each day I planned an activity for Michael and I as a couple, an activity for me to do with the kids during the day, and an activity for us to do as a family. I truly tried not to get overly ambitious with things, but I realize after the fact that I was incredibly ambitious. We did not do everything. On that note, in the future, I think I will plan to focus on the same topic for two or three days, with one activity max for each day. That said, this was still fun and I was pleased with our first attempt at something like this.:)
Here’s a basic schedule of what I planned. Laugh as you will at my well-intentioned ambition, and leave a comment or send me an email if you have any neat ideas of things that have worked for your family, or things you think may work for mine!
SATURDAY – The Sacred Heart
- Michael and I: Confession on Saturday afternoon; Read to one another about the Sacred Heart devotion and promises after kids go to bed.
- Kids: Color a picture of the Sacred Heart (found a printable on a blog:); Baked Sacred Heart and Immaculate Heart cookies (see pics below!)
- Family: Consecration to the Sacred Heart/enthronement service after dinner. (This was awesome. Beautiful prayer as a family with Scripture, led by Michael.)
SUNDAY – The Rosary
- Michael and I: No special activity for us planned, actually:)
- Kids: Walked around the house pointing out images of Mary; talked about her being Jesus’ mommy and her loving us and praying always for us; Super-easy one-decade rosary craft for the kids
- Family: Sunday mass at our parish; prayed a full rosary after dinner as a family; printed photos of the Joyful Mysteries for the kids to look at while we prayed. (This was a quite chaotic rosary, but we did get through it somehow! Not sure that the babies are ready to sit still for an entire rosary every night yet…Michael and I have decided to stick with praying a decade of the rosary a day as a family for a while longer!). Also, we went to Home Depot after mass and bought some little hooks to install on the side of our bookshelf. Gabriel’s special job is to get everyone a rosary when we do family prayer every night, so we now have a little hook for each one, which the kids think is the coolest thing ever.:)
MONDAY – The Eucharist
- Michael and I: Read about good spiritual preparation for mass; discussed how to prepare ourselves and the kids better for mass; Talked about discipline in mass.
- Kids: Coloring pages of a host, chalice and monstrance; watched Brother Francis video about the Eucharist (in the car while running errands:)
- Family: Visit to the church and the Blessed Sacrament as a family; point out the parts of the church and walk around to show things to the kids; Prayed the “Family Prayer for the Year of Faith” as a family (the actual church visit didn’t happen:)
TUESDAY – Marriage
- Michael and I: Date Night (with Gianna tagging along:); Prayer together with special prayers to renew our wedding vows informally; talked about goals and dreams for our marriage, as well as things we want to work on
- Kids: Caught up on crafts we didn’t make it to during the previous few days:)
WEDNESDAY – Family Mission/Guardian Angels
- Michael and I: Discuss the strengths and gifts of our family and what we feel God is calling us to right now regarding ministry individually and as a family; Write a family mission statement
- Kids: Talk about our Guardian Angels; make an angel craft (Gabe has been talking about “monsters” and has started being scared of the dark every once in a while.
- Family: Normal evening family prayer, including the Family Prayer for the Year of Faith, the St. Michael prayer, and of course, the Prayer to My Guardian Angel
So, I am not a super crafty mom. My oldest baby is only 3 1/2, and he happens to be a little boy who thus far in his short life does not enjoy sitting down to do the same thing for more than 30 minutes unless it’s play with his Thomas the Train tracks. And yes, I hear this is normal. 🙂 The thought of the extra mess and the knowledge that any craft I do will occupy them for about 15min max and involve stickiness or multiple tiny objects just sucks the ambition right out of me most of the time.
I am a goner for sweets, and lo and behold I really and truly actually baked these Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary cookies with Gabriel last week as part of the retreat. They came out yummy and so darn cute. I probably need to go to confession about how proud I am of them. (Only 99% kidding on that one). I did do just about all of the work in baking these, but Gabe at least had fun rolling the dough around and sprinkling the sugar on top before they went into the oven!
Well, look at me going all Catholic Icing on my kids.:) Lacy over at Catholic Icing is the humble Queen of all Things Crafty and Catholic. I highly recommend spending a few minutes browsing through her blog for ideas of fun activities and crafts to teach your kids about their faith.
My little Mother’s Helper, Bella, had a blast. She and Gabe enjoyed making their own creations out of the colored dough
Faith highly approved of the cookies, I think