Lent is hard for little ones. Who are we kidding? It’s hard for adults too. Advent is filled with the hustle and bustle of getting ready for Christmas. There are parties to go to, cookies to bake, presents to get. Lent, on the other hand, is a time of praying, fasting, and almsgiving. It’s the holiest of seasons and yet for a child it’s the hardest in which to participate or even understand.
In order to help my girls recognize Lent, I made us paper chains to count the days until Easter. Since the girls are still too little to do the cutting or stapling, I actually made them myself. But I wanted them to be more than just a countdown until Easter so on each paper link I wrote a message of faith for the girls. I kept them simple and joyful for a toddler. Messages like:
God made the sun and the stars!
Jesus is your friend!
God will always help you!
Jesus is with you when you are scared!
God made all the animals!
Mary is Jesus’ mama and our friend too!
I will be honest, it was hard at times coming up with the 47 messages. Even though I was making two chains (one for each daughter), I just used each message twice and mixed them up when I put them together. Each day Mia and Zoe will have different messages, but at some point they will have one they have already heard before, just reinforcing the message.
We started on Ash Wednesday and so far the girls have really enjoyed it. They love pulling off a link each day and finding out what the message is. First they like to “read” it themselves first, usually repeating the message they had the day before. Then they will let me read it to them.
Hopefully this will help my girls feel more involved in Lent and help them to be saying a special extra prayer each day in their own way.