family life, Festivals, parenting

Lent as a teaching opportunity to grow

As carnival approaches, I start preparing for Lent at home.

Lent, gives us tons of opportunities to teach our children even when not christian (you might want to use Lent to teach about different religions instead).
Starting with the Resurrection itself, we are teaching waiting for the good things in life, rather than the current way of having everything there and then. The giving alms aspect of Lent, can be used to teach kindness and love to others whether we know them or not. Giving up something we care about during this season teaches  self control.

I love this season and over the years a lot has changed in the way I present it to the children.

For a while we did something for the 40 days of Lent. For the past 3 years I have opted for a simpler approach where we have something happening weekly rather than daily.

This calendar, is something we look forward to. Our count down to Easter (similar to an Advent calendar). Each day, a child moves a tiny caterpillar on the day, till on Easter Sunday they will find a big butterfly instead. You can find this calendar here

6 Simple ways to start celebrating Lent and add it in your parental teachings

  • Do a Lenten Calendar. There are many variations available online if this one is not suitable for you. A calendar I used when they were younger was simply to have the outline of a lamb cut out of cardboard and split in 40 days and every day we glued a piece of cotton wool so by Easter, the whole lamb was full of wool.
  • Make a prayer chain. Together with your children, think of whom or what you wish to pray for and add them into a chain, every day, take one out to pray accordingly. We’ve had prayers for rain, animals, old, sick and also specific people.
  • Make a crown of thorns and every time you do an act of kindness, you take off a thorn. By Easter, you should have all thorns taken off and the children can get surprised with the crown turned full of flowers on Easter morning.
  • Temptation Cookies: While baking cookies, tell your children about the temptation of Jesus in the desert. When the cookies are done, leave them on the table, but they cannot eat them until the next day. Talk about how tempting this might be and what we can do to resist temptation.
  • Do resurrection cookies. It is a great way to teach the Easter story!
  • Make a sacrifice bin. Everyone in the family, decides to let go of something they are really fond of throughout Lent. This can be changed weekly. It can also be anything from toys to screen time to sweets etc.

How do you celebrate Lent? Any other ideas you care to share?

family life, Festivals, parenting

Valentine's Day

It is the feast of love this Friday!

For the past 3 years I have rekindled my love for this feast ….. in a different way!

There was once (which I would like to do again next year), where we did felted hearts and a small note saying “you are loved” and posted it them randomly in homes around our village.
Last year and this year, it was more specific to my family as a way to remind all not just that they are loved, but that they are special in different ways and loved specifically because they are all different. This I did by cutting card stock paper in heart shapes and listing on them attributes specific to each child (and husband actually). It also helps as a boost in confidence. these hearts I distribute from 1st February with one last big one that I love them no matter what on the actual day.
Last year, I attached them to their wardrobe in the evening so that every morning they saw them when they were going to get dressed. This year I randomly leave them in shoes, lunch boxes etc so it is kind of more fun and exciting not sure where they will end up in.
On Friday than, we will have a love filled breakfast together as a special way to start this day.

What are your thoughts on Valentine’s? How do you celebrate it?

family life, Festivals, parenting, seasons

Christmas time…..what kind of celebration are you bringing to your child?

It’s that time of the year again.

Christmas is literally round the corner and I am sure all parents are now starting to work on Christmas for their families!

What is Christmas for you? What do you want to bring to your children from this festival? Is the way you have been celebrating it reflecting this?

There are also many families who have different spiritual leanings and Christmas as a christian festival does not really work for them but the holidays are still celebrated worldwide with a lot of fanfare. So how do you bring this festival to your children when you are not christian?

I think looking at Christmas as a festival of light can help many a parent whether christian or not to embrace more and find what this season truly means for them. Essentually, Christmas is the birth of Jesus the bring of light to humanity. Throughout this season there are also other celebrations that have similar meaning like Diwali, Hannukah and Solstice. These festivals of different faiths all bring us the celebration that means from the darkness of winter we are now moving towards the light of spring.

So through this wonderful time, I invite you to draw inward and to really penetrate what you want these festivals to be for your family and how do you propose to celebrate them as a special time of family closeness and togetherness.

I look forward to hear more of your own plans. I will definitely be updating you on my celebrations in this space.

family life, Festivals, parenting, seasons

Autumn Reflections

As Autumn makes its way toward us, our home started reflecting this change with many little gestures.

Our nature table, is now reflecting autumn with its oranges and yellows. We have added a lot of crystals in it and a cave with wee gnomes – a reflection that this is the season to look inward. Soon we will also add pumpkins there and by the end of the month a dragon will appear gracing the sky…

Our autumn books have also come forth. We will also have other stories throughout this season that are not mentioned here because they are stories that we have found online or passed through friends that encompass the festivals we celebrate. As always our books reflect the current season and a story is retold for a whole week before another one is read.

Here is a list of our books.

Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn by Kenard Pak: it is a great book to understand the changing season – a boy greeting the trees, puddles, sticks, leaves etc and them telling him what is happening to them now that autumn is approaching.

Autumn by Gerda Muller: like its sequel Summer, this is a lovely picture book that leaves you open to invent the story you wish in the language you wish.

Brambly Hedge Autumn by Jill Barklem: A lovely story of mice harvesting and by the end of the day a storm started and one young mouse was missing and the adventure till she was found and went safely home.

The Little Yellow leaf by Carin Berger: this is one of my favourites. The story of a leaf afraid to let go but finally she does and finds that it is not so hard and lovely to let go of fears.

Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert: a sweet story about how leaf man got blown away by the wind and the many places he could have passed – which of course are all autumn related.

Wild Child by Lynn Plourde: another favourite in this house! Not only the pictures are alive, but the story is of a mother who is trying to put her child to bed and it goes through all the changes of autumn before that happens and then ‘winter child’ wakes up.

Harvest by Kris Waldherr: this is a wonderful story to teach about how we get our food. The girls tells how hard she worked till she got to today – harvest day- and how after the harvest everyone, including the garden will rest.

The butterfly children, Nuts & Leaves by Angela & Pat Mills: another autumn story, involving butterfly children gathering fruits and nuts and how they helped a squirrel find its missing winter store.

Flower Fairies of Autumn by Cicely Barker: beautiful poetry and pictures by this wonderful author who takes us through the whole 4 seasons describing the flowers that we are likely to see through autumn.

Lastly this month we will start celebrating our beloved festivals: Autumn Equinox, Independence day, our main festival Michaelmas and this year because my second is learning about the Jewish religion and customs Rosh Hashannah.

How are you reflecting autumn to your family?

family life, Festivals, parenting, seasons

Earth Day

 

sky earth galaxy universe
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

April 22 is marked by Earth Day.

As a family we take this opportunity to further inspire our children to love our Mother Earth.

We look at things in a positive perspective, because we have enough negativity but not enough positivity!

This year, we will walk whenever possible to help our Earth breathe. We will pick up trash whenever we see any, to help Earth be nice and clean. We will spend time in nature – probably in our field tending our crops and flowers. We continue with our pledge to reduce plastic so that one day we will manage to fill a recycling bag once every fortnight than once a week.

At home we will be making these lovely nature mobiles and listening to poems on Earth.

From a parenting perspective, we are teaching responsibility for one’s actions, confidence in speaking our truth, caring for others (whether animals, humans or plants), loving everything that makes up this world among others.

Do you celebrate Earth Day? What are your thoughts?

family life, Festivals, parenting

Parenting through Lent

As a Catholic family, today we have started to observe Lent, which is 40 days long.

I find, Lent can give us a lot in parenting. Lent, is meant to be a season of fasting, praying and giving alms. These can bring out a lot for our children.

Fasting for children can take up many faces, it could mean a day without sweets or screen time. It could mean being more mindful how we talk to each other. It could mean taking something which we really love and ditch it together as a family for the whole of Lent. This teaches children resilience, having a strong will to follow through. It teaches, patience, kindness, delayed gratification.

Praying need not be a prayer learnt by heart. It could mean reading sections of the Bible that help us build on what we know so we can grow further. It could mean just saying some words of gratitude every day. It could mean simply looking at the sunrise or sunset quietly. Whatever you choose, it teaches listening, stillness, gratitude, love for all that surrounds us.

Giving alms need not be a simple cheque sent by post – indifferent and unfeeling. Alms can be given by random acts of kindness on the road…..smiling at someone, paying something small to someone, carrying a heavy load for someone, hugging someone, giving kind words. All this yes teaches kindness, being thoughtful, gentle, caring, loving. It teaches that the world does not rotate around them but around us all and we need each other to survive and live joyfully.

As Christians, we can use Lent to check up on us and our goals. Simple ways to introduce Lent at home could be by having an unlit candle throughout this season or have some earth bare throughout Lent which can turn into a small ‘garden’ by Easter. You can have a Lenten calendar. Books of course always help! These are the books we read during Lent:

  • The Giving Tree
  • Easter
  • The Easter Story
  • The Blackbird’s Nest by Jenny Schroedel
  • Rechenka’s Eggs by Patricia Polacco
  • The Starry Bird by Reg Down

Ultimately, Lent should remind us to slow down and take stock of what we are building. Doing that, can teach us a lot about our family and teach our family a lot on how to be a good human.

What are your thoughts?

family life, Festivals, seasons

Last Week of Advent & Christmastide

The last week of Advent was a very short one this year and the focus was on Christmas eve. We added humans to our crib and Mary & Joseph reached the grotto. We also prepared the star path for the magi.  Christmas eve in our family is a day where we spend it together, having a fun meal, opening presents and watch a movie.

Christmastide, which starts on Christmas day and ends 11 days later is a very important time of this season. On Christmas day, after the lighting of the last candle, we bring out the magi to start their path towards ‘Bethlehem’. We read stories to remind us in these 12 days to choose goodness, kindness and all virtues really throughout our lives as told to us by Jesus Himself.

Christmastide, is a time of reflection, of how far we have come, how further we want to go the following year. What worked and what did not.  How to help our children do better. It works well that we have a small family meeting and discuss what values etc we wish to have as a family and form a family mission statement to help us focus on throughout the year.