Father Zimmer writes in the bulletin:

Parents, both mother and father, are the first teachers of their children in the ways of faith. Be aware of what your children are learning at school. Find out the focus of their religious education programme. Sit down with your children discuss the things of faith. Go over the prayers of the Mass with them. Support the work of their religion teacher and of course, pray with them everyday.

The post-school huddle
When school is over and the crew tumbles in through my front door, looking like astronauts in full winter gear, the scene is absolute chaos. Everyone has a problem. Everyone has to pee. Everyone’s socks are wet. I’m overheating. They’re overheating. Everyone is grumpy. I say a quick and desperate prayer for the strength to not flush anyone down the powder room toilet, growl out reminders to the big kids, peel the little kids and carry them over the puddles. We persevere and, at some point, I can gather my kids to me, give them hugs and direct them all to the kitchen table for a snack.

Snack is brilliant
Snack is when everyone is gathered around, desperately hungry. Snack is the time for asking how everyone’s day went, when the little kids get to rehearse the line they’ve been practicing to say to their older siblings, “How was your daaaaaaaay?” And because I’ve forced myself to STOP and SIT DOWN and DO NOTHING BUT LISTEN (super difficult, let me tell you), the kids can open up. Sometimes they need coaxing. Sometimes they need very specific questions. Who did you play with at recess? What did so-and-so have for lunch today? Did anything sad happen to someone? How did the spelling test go? Sometimes the stories fall out like Niagara Falls. But mere minutes after it starts, snack is over and everyone rushes to their next activity. Sometimes I’m too grumpy or busy and I squander those precious few minutes that I have to listen to their stories – which is a shame.

Teaching moments
When I don’t take the time to listen to my childrens’ stories, I lose the chance to hear about their victories and their struggles. It’s near impossible to provide guidance regarding the trickier things in life (like why boys keep kicking soccer balls at you, or why it’s important to say hello to the caretaker) when I don’t really know what’s going on in their lives. So in our day, snack is key. (Dinner can work like this, too.)

One-on-one at bedtime
After prayers and before we leave the kids in their beds for the night, there are a few seconds available when you have the full and undivided attention of a cosy, warm child tucked into bed. What are these seconds for? For us, they’re for our most important messages: I love you, or thank your for all your help with X, or I’m sorry I yelled at you for X. At the end of the day, we want them to know how much we care for them, however terribly the day went. Sometimes, this is when their biggest questions come out, too. Do you love me even when I do something bad? my five-year old asked some months ago. Of course, I do! I love you always.