We have eight kids in our home ranging in age from 20 down to three so this is the voice of experience talking. I'm not going to lie- some days, it's chaotic. Ok- most days. But, I do have a few ideas to share with you to try to calm things down to keep your younger kids interested and wanting to take part.
#2 Try to pray the rosary at the same time every day. Make it a time when everyone is typically home. For some families, morning works best; for others, bedtime is better. We really like praying at night as it calms the little ones down before we shuttle them off to bed. But, the key here is to try to make family rosary time happen at the same time every day whether it be morning, noon or night. Your little ones will become used to the routine.
You might also want to consider one of my sliding bead rosaries. It's a rosary design I came up about a year ago to help one of my children follow along while we pray the rosary. The child simply pulls a bead for every Hail Mary said.
Above is a picture of our well-loved "book" that we purchased many years ago. Ours is actually a set of heavy 8" x 10" cards that we attached together with some rings. It's kid friendly and pretty easy to use.
#5 Consider a rosary CD. Think about purchasing a "Pray the Rosary" CD to pray along with. You might find that you don't want to use it every day, but by even using a CD periodically, you're changing the routine a bit and adding some interest.
#6 Allow the child to lead a decade. Obviously, the capabilities to do this will vary from child to child. We've had some as young as age four or five that were able to lead a whole decade, and yet an eight year old might still struggle with just a few Aves. Aid your child as they go and teach them. Even a young child at the tender age of two might want to say one Hail Mary as the leader. Doing this simple task will give your child(ren) such a sense of pride!
#6 Pray on your knees as a family. Though you're certainly not required to, praying the rosary on your knees is a pious way to offer your prayers. And, when one is on their knees, it also makes it more difficult to run about the room and play and giggle...being on your knees certainly keeps you focused!
#8 The actions of your older children set the tone. A gentle reminder to your older children that they set the tone for how the younger children behave is sometimes useful. If your older kiddos are wiggly, talkative or don't participate in family prayers, then chances are your younger children won't feel like it either. One thing we try to instill in our children is the idea that we should behave in the same manner as we do at Mass as we do during family rosary time. No chatting, paying attention, giving our all to Our Lord.
Relax. If your house feels like the busiest house in the world during rosary time, I assure you it most likely is not. Have faith and don't quit. Keep praying your rosary every day. And, remember the family that prays together, stays together!
What tips do you have for praying the family rosary? Please share in the comments. I'd love to hear from you!