For the last year and a half the kids have said their evening prayers in their bedroom. Steve and I would put them down together since he was usually home from work at that time. Since we've had Ana though, only one of us puts them down so our time to pray as a family stopped. As the kids have gotten older it's also been increasingly difficult to get them calmed down enough for prayer time. In the past as long as they weren't playing with a toy, reading, or running around flailing their arms we were ok. We don't want to force them to pray or make it an unpleasant experience by making them sit still, so we gave them leeway. They are only 2, after all. After reading a post on my sister's blog about the evening prayer routine with her kids I decided to give it a try.
After their baths last night they got in their pajamas, brushed their teeth and then came back downstairs. We all gathered at the kitchen table and I explained what was going on. I lit a candle and we folded our hands to pray. I was astonished at how well it kept them focused. Gabe stared the whole time at the flame, giggling every now and then but mostly staying quiet and listening. Addie prayed right along with us. Most of what she said were gibberish words, but every now and then she would say the correct word at the right time. It was nice to hear how much she'd actually been paying attention all those other times. When we finished the Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be I told them it was time to blow out the candle. Just like my sister said happens with her two, both kids wanted to blow it out so we took turns. Everyone was happy and calm, and honestly the experience was over too quickly. We will do this again tonight (with 2 candles this time) and perhaps introduce a new prayer.