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The ‘Sacrifice Menu’ for kids

Cari Donaldson - published on 02/19/13 - updated on 06/08/17

A mom shares how she's helping her kids participate in Lent

Because I am an excellent mom, I pay perfect attention to my children’s religious education.  The homeschool is always decorated in liturgically appropriate colors; every solemnity, feast day, and memorial is observed and discussed; and the kids can name the Doctors of the Church with the same accuracy and enthusiasm as they display with their knowledge of Doctor Who.

Just kidding.

In reality, though the kids’ religious education is more important than any other aspect of their education, it often suffers from the same limitations of time and energy that math, spelling, or history do. 

For instance, Lent sort of snuck up on me this year (I’m not precisely blaming the Pope for my delay, but a papal resignation does tend to distract).  And while on Fat Tuesday I attempted a hasty conversation over the breakfast table about what sacrifices they thought they were being called to make, I don’t think the children’s hearts were really into it, since “chores” and “sharing with my brothers” were the only concrete ideas they came up with.

Not one to be discouraged by surly children or a week-old deadline, I’ve come up with a sort of “Lenten Menu” I’m going to present to the kids tonight.  They can pick one thing to give up and one thing to take on for the remainder of Lent, and I can pat myself on the back for once again being such an organized mother.

"Tweenage Girl"
To give up (pick one):

  • Inappropriate responses to reasonable requests like, “Honey, we’re about to go to church; would you please go brush your hair?”
  • Work ethic mimicking a drunken monkey.
  • Stretching math assignments into multi-day endurance tests.
  • Dressing younger brothers in princess clothes, then encouraging them to play outside.

To take on (pick one):

  • Perfect, first time obedience.
  • Cultivating gracefulness. Or, barring that, striving to not clomp around the house like Frankenstein.
  • Strive to begin sentences with openers other than, “Mythbusters proved…” or “This is just like that Doctor Who episode where…”

7-4 yr old boys
To give up (pick one):

  • Leaving Lego booby traps on the stairs.
  • Wearing seasonally inappropriate clothing (even with snowpants and coat over it, it’s never OK to wear a bathing suit outdoors in February).
  • Screeching like a banshee when a sibling is found wearing your underwear.

To take on (pick one):

  • Flushing the toilet.  EVERY TIME.
  • Sleeping in past 5:45 A.M.
  • Wearing your own underwear, and not your brothers’.

Toddler boy
To give up (pick one):

  • Wrecking EVERYTHING.
  • Wearing diapers.
  • Peeing on your bed.
  • Peeing on your brothers’ beds.
  • Touching anything of mine. Anything.
  • Impersonations of the Hulk after being told “no”.
  • Your Ritz cracker habit (or at least cut it down to one sleeve a day).
  • Employing family members’ toothbrushes in any manner whatsoever.

To take on (pick one):

  • Using the toilet in the manner it’s meant to be used, and not as a toy transport device.
  • Cultivating vocal levels between “whisper” and “screaming at the top of your lungs.”
  • Putting only fingers in the holy water font, and not matchbox cars, pencils, legos, your sister’s pacifier, etc.

Infant girl
To give up (pick one):

  • Getting any bigger.

To take on (pick one):

  • Staying little.

Cari Donaldson is a wife, homeschooling mother of six, and maker of pretty mean sandwiches. When her tiny overlords allow it, she blogs at Clan Donaldson.


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