We started doing this for lent as a family last year and haven't stopped.
Every night - the *entire *rosary - as a family.
I can't tell you what a powerful force for change and togetherness this has fostered in my family.
My kids are currently: an almost 5 year old boy, a 3 year old girl and an almost 1 year old girl. They are not placid or easy children by any means.
We have made it part of the prayer routine every night at bedtime. Often the children fall asleep, but often they stay awake.
My husband and I use it as an opportunity to catechize. Over time we have managed to find many children’s books that contain various stories from the mysteries. These, the children look at during the day since it is "lights out" at rosary time with just a nightlight to light the room. We tried letting them look at books with a small light in the dark, but things seem to settle down better when they are left to just laying and praying.
What we do is let the children name "intentions". My husband or I always lead the prayers, but we let the children lead in naming the mysteries.
For the Joyful, the Sorrowful and the Glorious mysteries, we try to make a story out of them by filling in the blanks of the stories between the mysteries, but when we get to naming/telling about the mystery itself, we always let the children start. They can pretty much name them all, now.
As for the actual use of the beads, the children mostly just held theirs or occasionally asked which bead we were on, but mostly just rattled them and dropped them so we haven’t felt the need to have the children hold theirs lately. I suppose we'll try again once they can lead the prayers themselves and thus give them a need for the beads.
As far as the prayers go, I teach the kids by letting them take charge of a word in the prayer. Ie: Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb _____
To which both kids say "Jesus".
The baby just sits and rocks with my husband until she falls asleep, at which time my husband lies her in her crib and we just carry on.
The hardest part is getting started so starting and stopping a bunch is very much against my recommendation.
Remember you have 40 days to go through this, so don't try to do everything at once every night. Focus on what you feel moved to focus on.
It is best to introduce each mystery by making it relevant to your children. For example, "the agony in the garden". Talk to your children about a time they might have been dreading something ... IDK ... make it as specific and relevant to them as you can. Then explain to them that they should try to think about how Jesus was feeling a similar way during our decade. Feel free to interrupt the decade with whatever helpful focusing thing might come to your mind.
Do not expect this to be easy. Some nights really are; but many are full of ants and wiggles. Both of the toddlers want to sit in "mommy's lap". I let them take turns as long as they don't act up. Just never forget that the toddlers are not intuitively born with the knowledge of how or why we are doing this so be very patient from the start. The rule for interruptions is that a hand must be raised.
We set the mood by having "daddy" bless everyone with holy water before we begin.
The reward is indescribable. I would that every family could bring God on this level into the familial bond. We had originally intended to have this be only a Lenten exercise. It has grown into so much more. It is really an amazing feeling to have the children complain to us that we *have *to do the rosary even if we're out late and have already done it in the car.
You know your own limits, but it seems like just doing a decade a night isn’t really saying the rosary. To me, the story told through the mysteries loses it meaning when broken up like that. Also, the Hail Mary’s lose their significance when just done a decade at a time.
That's the basics for now. I hope this is helpful and I pray for your success.
BTW: The creed is good occasionally, but we usually just start with an invocation of "Oh God, come to our aid. Oh Lord hasten to help us." You could spend all night on just the creed, otherwise. We also like to throw in a St. Michael at the beginning and the end. Make no mistake; the Evil One will work very hard to make this a miserable experience for you. Ignore the annoyances. Persevere and pray.