ChristWhat is the best way to send our family members off with some sort of prayer for the day? Mornings are such a mad dash at our house.

Morning is made for prayer! God gives us a fresh beginning with each day. Your intention to send your family off with a prayer surely makes God smile.

How to do it in the midst of the “mad dash?”

First, how can we slow down the dash, so all family members can greet the day with a little more calm and peace?

I would encourage your family to sit down and discuss your morning routine. What makes it so frantic and hectic? How about making it a goal to line up the backpacks the night before, already filled with signed permission slips, completed homework, clean soccer uniforms and overdue library

books (Yes, I know, this is still earth, not heaven, but this is what we’re aiming for most days, say three out of five?).

Before bedtime have a “brownbag session” in which everyone packs his/her lunch (adults included) from a ready stock of lunch items in a designated bin in the fridge.

When my kids were school age, we also had a bin in the cupboard called the “people’s pantry” where they could find granola bars, snack bags of nuts and raisins, prepackaged pretzels, etc., that were all acceptable lunch items.

Setting the table the night before, counting out the vitamins, laying keys, glasses, or other needed and often misplaced items at the end of the counter, streamlines the morning amazingly.

Let’s leave snatching a few extra winks for the weekend. Those extra minutes of sleep never balance out the stress of the “mad dash.” Set alarm clocks, have a bathroom schedule and be sure everyone sticks to it.

This really helped at our small house with one bathroom, four kids, and two adults. During the teen years, when morning routines became more complicated, only those essentials that needed water were allowed during your slotted time in the bathroom. Everything else: shaving (the boys all got electric shavers on their 16th birthdays), hair, contacts, primping, etc. was done in front of your personal full length mirror in your bedroom. Honestly, we were rarely, if ever late for work and school.

All this organization opens time for morning prayer! Keep it simple. Gather in a group hug and share a verse of Scripture (This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad!) or a short spontaneous prayer: Lord, protect and guide us all this day. Help us in our challenges; let us see the joy!

Or, if it’s too early for words, light a candle, hold hands, breathe and take a moment of silence before going out to meet the day. If family members leave the house at different times, make the sign of the cross over each individual, praying, “May the Lord bless you this day and return you safely to our home.”

St. Therese of Lisieux said, “For me, prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven. It is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy.”

Take a little time to prepare for the morning so your family can begin the day with that look heavenward. It will do much to sustain you throughout the day. And always remember, God doesn’t expect perfection, but gives us points for our heartfelt effort!

(Christ is a consultant in ministry in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. The married mother of four young adult children, she gives talks and workshops, leads retreats and is a spiritual director. Christ self-publishes materials for parishes, and is the author of “Journeying with Mark,” “Journeying with Luke” and “Journeying with Matthew.” Published by Paulist Press, the books are intended to be used by families in the car on the way to Mass.)