I like the idea of a family Lenten sacrifice. Growing up, the whole family gave up TV; we had a big entertainment center with doors you could close, so the television was literally locked up during Lent. We sometimes took on our own individual sacrifices, too, but it was a nice way to keep each other honest if we're all giving up the same thing.
The past two years, The Geek Family's sacrifice has been not going out to eat during Lent. Last year it wasn't terribly difficult, but it was a great way to save money which we turned around and gave to the Bishop's Lenten Appeal (the annual diocesan fundraising campaign to support the various ministries in the diocese). This year it's been much harder to say no to fast food for lunch or to resist ordering pizza and whip up something on the stove instead...mostly because I'm pregnant, tired all the time, and turned off by the sight of raw meat or the smell of cooking food. We have allowed ourselves to "cheat" on Sundays (which has mostly meant a big after-Mass lunch at Cracker Barrel, since their biscuits are my current craving) and have found it prudent to cheat when it would be impolite to decline (like when my team at work wanted to go out to lunch to welcome our newest members- it would've been rude to stick with my Lean Cuisine and sit out for that team building activity) or otherwise impractical (like when Mr. Geek was supposed to finish his shift at work at 4pm and instead was asked to head straight to the train station and transport some equipment to New York without any time to go home first- he let himself eat dinner that night and breakfast the next morning at restaurants rather than a self-imposed fast with no warning). So while this year we didn't quite make it 40 days without eating out, it still felt like a difficult sacrifice. (We didn't allow ourselves to cheat just because we forgot to grocery shop or Mommy didn't feel like cooking- we got creative or powered through, which was admittedly difficult sometimes.)
It was even a sacrifice for Miss Chief this year.
This winter, we established a new Saturday morning breakfast habit (or even weekday mornings when Mr. Geek was working night shift)- we would go to The Coffee Store (Starbucks) or The Breakfast Store (Panera), get a pastry and chocolate coffee (chocolate milk), and talk about the errands we were going to run or our plans for the rest of the weekend. To be told that we wouldn't be doing that anymore for quite some time was a bit of a shock for her, and for the first couple of weeks she asked if we could go (even throwing in an extra "Please?" or two). We told her that it was good for us to make breakfast at home together, to eat around the family table, just us, but we have the same conversations- and the same "chocolate coffee". So she doesn't quite get the connection to Lent yet- we're still working on grasping the concept of Lent in general- she does understand that she's not being punished, and that it's good for our family to cook and eat together at home. (Okay fine, sometimes "making breakfast" around here means opening a package of Pop Tarts. But we open it with love, okay?)
Little ones don't have to fast during Lent, so how do you introduce your pre-schoolers to sacrifice?