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HDYDI: Celebrate Lent with Kids

Adults, I’m coming for you next week. But first, let’s chat celebrating Lent with kids.

Looking for ways to introduce the season of Lent to your children? These lenten tags, with ideas for prayer, fasting and alms giving, are simple ways to love the season. This free lenten printable is a tool to help you make the Lenten season meaningful, for you and y our children.

It isn’t Christmas. I know, Captain Obvious. For most of us, I think it’s hard to wrap our brains around a season that requires us to deny ourselves something, or give more of something else. As a parent, I know it’s much easier to teach my children to be grateful and talk about seasons that invoke a sense of immediate joy than it is to talk about someone dying on the cross for our eternal salvation.

Just because it’s hard doesn’t mean we should shy away from it.

When our kids were really little, say four and under, Lent was really all about us. They were way too young to understand this whole penitential thing. Penance to them was getting the red cup when they really wanted the blue one.

Horror of horrors.

Several years ago we introduced these Lent sacrifices for kids {free printable!}. Two words (okay, one hyphenated one): game-changer. More on those in a second.

Looking for ways to introduce the season of Lent to your children? These lenten tags, with ideas for prayer, fasting and alms giving, are simple ways to love the season. This free lenten printable is a tool to help you make the Lenten season meaningful, for you and y our children.

In celebrating 13 years of Lent with kids, here’s the things we’ve learned. Maybe they’ll be helpful to you, too.

1. Be reasonable. You can’t go all drill sergeant on your kids and start making demands of a completely reformed lifestyle during these 40 days. Trust me, I’ve tried. I believe we call that a #parentingfail

2. Make the celebration age appropriate. When my kids hit fifth grade, they’re expected to make a concerted effort to follow through on a Lenten promise – either something they give up, or something in which they do more. We hold them accountable. The littles get cut some slack. Because, you know, they’re little.

3. It just needs to be enough. I have lovely Catholic mom friends who are really good at this liturgical stuff. Like crazy good. They’re all making fancy dishes for feast days, decorating their mantels for every liturgical season and the litany of prayers they recite and Daily Masses they attend is incredible. But you know what? That’s not us. At least not in this season. Sometimes we go all out and I kick butt and take names. Other times? Well, we just go with the “it’s enough” and “that’s enough.” Because sometimes it needs to be. We’ve always abided by the philosophy that God guides our family, as long as we’re listening to Him. It’s quite possible His voice looks different in our house than it does yours. And that’s okay.

4. Make going to confession a priority. Our older ones do this at school (hooray for Catholic schools!) and my husband usually does his at work (hooray for Catholic employers!), so that typically leaves me. We usually go to confession as a family a few times a year, but we often divide and conquer because that’s life. During Lent, we make it a priority. Pro tip: go the week before Holy Week during the regularly scheduled confession times if you’re trying to avoid the big penance services. We’ve done those in a pinch, but I much prefer the slower pace of regular confession.

5. Don’t be afraid to modify your Lenten practices. I chatted on national radio about ours, but here’s the Cliff Notes. For many years, we celebrated Holy Week services in our own home with some simplified activities. It worked beautifully. Now, we divide and conquer, taking the bigs to Mass and leaving the littles at home. You’re no less Catholic if Holy Week is spent in your living room, nor are you more Catholic for attending it all. It’s just geography. Focus on our intentions.

6. Make it easy. We use these Lenten tags and they have been a perfect – and simple – way to introduce the season to our kids. The premise is that by drawing one simple act out of the basket each morning, we all strive to do that “one thing” throughout the day. So, on Monday we might fast from all screen time, Tuesday we smile at three people for our almsgiving, Wednesday we donate a toy to charity…and I think you’ve got it. We rotate who draws because LORD, these people need to practice patience. And, we hang up the challenge of the day for all to see. It’s a good visual reminder. I even got fancy and laminated them so we could use them year after year. I’ve reworked our tags and made even more for y’all. Link above, but here it is again: Lent sacrifices for kids. For our bigs and Scott and I, this is in addition to what we’ve decided to do during the whole 40 days. The kids are already begging that I pull out the basket. I think that’s a good sign.

7. Oh, and yes. During Lent, Sundays count at our house.

lenten_tags

However you decide to celebrate and practice the season of Lent in your own home, be all in. I mean it. Look at this season as your 40-day jump start to a better you. No time like the present. More on all that next week.

32 Comments

  1. Megan DiTeresa on February 11, 2015 at 8:26 am

    I LOVE the Lent tags! I cannot wait to do this!!!

    • Kathryn on February 11, 2015 at 3:15 pm

      Well-behaved kids not guaranteed 😉 But, yay for Lent!

  2. Kristen on February 11, 2015 at 10:34 am

    I love your Lenten posts every year. My family is not religious, but both my husband and I are struggling with how to impart the correct morals to our son (he is 2, so we can start slow!) I think I will try to modify these a little bit (mostly their titles), but I get goosebumps thinking about doing them myself and then with my son. Very excited to accompany you and your family during this season!

    • Kathryn on February 11, 2015 at 3:14 pm

      I’m honored that you can use them, Kristen! Happy to have you along for the 40 day ride.

  3. Kati on February 11, 2015 at 3:04 pm

    Kathryn thank you for the printables! I made some suggestions on instagram and was excitedly awaiting the new versions. You are so kind to give this to all of us. I can’t wait to use it this season with my kiddos!

    • Kathryn on February 11, 2015 at 3:13 pm

      You had some great suggestions!

  4. Becky on February 11, 2015 at 4:35 pm

    Love these printables and tips! Can’t wait till my baby girl is older and we can incorporate these ideas. PS: Just found your blog and love it already – howdy from a fellow Texan!

    • Kathryn on February 11, 2015 at 5:18 pm

      Howdeeeeee! Welcome to the party. So happy you’re here.

  5. Kim on February 11, 2015 at 4:58 pm

    Kathryn, last year your Lent tags were the first cool project taken from the Catholic mom blogs I ever did with my three little boys 🙂 I’m so uncreative but I managed to get it together enough to print these out and get them laminated and everything. And the 5 and 3 year olds really liked it! Looking forward to trying them again this year. Thank you!

    • Kathryn on February 11, 2015 at 5:17 pm

      Cool and Catholic. I’m honored!

  6. Verdina on February 11, 2015 at 7:24 pm

    I love, love, love your Lenten suggestions! May God continue to bless you and your beautiful family!!!

  7. Catherine Boucher on February 11, 2015 at 8:08 pm

    Lovin’ those printable tags! I just might have to get out the laminator… 🙂 You wouldn’t by any chance be willing to share a fill in the blank tag to go with them? Our kiddos are 5, 3, and 18 months, so I’m thinking of a few that are more appropriate for their ages. I can always play around on PicMonkey or make my own, too. Thanks for the great idea. Sundays have always counted around these parts, too. Solidarity, sister! I love, love, love what you said about the Holy Week celebrations. “You’re no less Catholic if Holy Week is spent in your living room, nor are you more Catholic for attending it all. It’s just geography. Focus on our intentions.” I’ve had some serious guilt the last few years for not being able to attend it all, but I’m coming to grips with the fact that our family IS my vocation and that God doesn’t want me to feel guilty for being home with them (so long as I’m meeting my obligation at church on Sundays and holy days). The rest is bonus. Thanks for the reminder. Hope your crew has a blessed Lent!!!

    • Kathryn on February 11, 2015 at 8:18 pm

      Just posted the link with the blank ones (forgot to do that on the original post!) Just scroll up to the top, and both printable files are now linked. Enjoy!

  8. […] a sacrifice, we take out a toothpick to help have a measurable outcome for our efforts, and use the Lenten sacrifice cards to help prompt us in what we decide to sacrifice each […]

  9. Lent: You're Doing it Wrong - Team Whitaker on February 17, 2015 at 10:41 am

    […] I’m a convert to Catholicism, so my take on Lent is probably markedly different than many Catholic moms. There are no years-long traditions of Fat Tuesday and Ash Wednesday celebrations for which I can draw inspiration. Nor are there stories of how I remember Lent growing up as a kid. It wasn’t until we had children that we really ramped up our Lenten sacrifices and celebrations. […]

  10. Laura on February 18, 2015 at 9:57 am

    Thank you for sharing! I just printed these off! Hopefully I can laminate them soon!

  11. Sr. Maria Theresa Nguyen, OP on February 18, 2015 at 10:03 am

    I would like to have a copy of your Lenten tags for kids and a blank one. I was browsing the web and came upon your website which was an answer to my prayers. I teach the youth at both the First Holy Communion and Confirmation level, so this resource would be of great assistance. Thank YOU, in advance for sharing your creativity.

  12. […] have been us the Lenten sacrifice cards to help prompt us in what we decide to sacrifice each day.  If we don’t get to one of them […]

  13. Julie Norris on January 31, 2016 at 4:06 pm

    I loooove this…so much so that I printed out the tag sheets and handed them out to the kids in my Religious Ed class today. Thank you from another Catholic, Die Hard Aggie from the Panhandle!

  14. […] – Specific – Set up the Lenten sacrifice cards and take one new one out each […]

  15. […] cards’ where you choose a card each day and do the thing it suggests. I got them from Team Whitaker and while they’re “for kids”…well…we’re supposed to have a […]

  16. […] Daily Sacrifice Cards from Team Whitaker: […]

  17. […] This post is probably one of my most-pinned of all time. […]

  18. Elsa Day on February 10, 2016 at 2:33 pm

    Love your blog.

  19. John on February 14, 2016 at 12:19 am

    This will be great for this lent season!

    Question, where did you get those plastic tag sleeves?

    • Kathryn on February 14, 2016 at 11:06 pm

      Those are laminating sleeves and I got them from the office supply store.

  20. […] goal for this Lent was the Lenten Sacrifice Cards.  These started off well but have not been as successful for helping us focus on the season as […]

  21. Family Faith Resources for Lent, 2017 on February 1, 2017 at 5:14 pm

    […] Lenten Faith Practice Cards from a Catholic blogger. For those who are in the Protestant tradition, some of the cards will not apply, but these are a great resource! […]

  22. Was This Our Best Lent Ever? - Team Whitaker on March 21, 2019 at 10:27 pm

    […] kids did our PFA basket (prayer-fasting-almsgiving). Although we weren’t religious (ha, pun intended) about doing it […]

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