Guest Post by Susan Heid
Studies show that traditions are quite important to family happiness. In fact, family rituals encourage children’s social development, boost feelings of family unity and help provide connection and predictability, which people–especially children–crave.
What we do as a family are our traditions and help define who we are. It’s what makes your family different from another; what makes your family special. Traditions are an easy way to strengthen your family and create lasting memories.
Don’t miss out on the benefits traditions can have in your family by waiting for a special occasion. Here are 5 everyday family traditions you may want to adopt as your own.
1. Family Date Night
Usually date night refers to spouses making time to get away alone. But why not make specific time to have a date out as a family? Whether your children are toddlers or teenagers you can adapt an outing to fit your need in that season.
It may be as simple as a trip to the local ice cream shop, dinner at your favorite restaurant or something more adventurous, like miniature golf, rock wall climbing, or go-cart racing. No matter what you do, it’s a great opportunity for everyone to reconnect after a busy week of school and work.
2. Weekly Game Night/Afternoon
Set aside one night each week, or an afternoon if that fits your family’s schedule better, and play some board games together. Make sure you set some expectations for this time by banning television, computer, and cell phones; everyone needs to be participating with undivided attention.
Allow a different person to pick what game you will play each week. If once a week is too much, then try once a month. Write it down on the calendar, too!
3. Weekend Morning Breakfast
Get up a little earlier than usual and enjoy a hot breakfast together, or even make a breakfast casserole the night before to pop in the oven! Having a meal together will set the tone of your day as a family. You will have opportunity to share stories that may have gotten forgotten during the week or even discuss the day’s activities.
4. Read a Book Together
Pick a family friendly book that is appropriate for the age of your children and read a little each evening. You probably read a lot when your children were younger, but as children get older, this ritual tends to fall by the wayside.
Decide on a time that will work for your family and spend 15-20 minutes reading, even switching off reading different chapters with different family members. The perfect time to initiate this tradition is immediately following dinner and right before clean-up; everyone is already gathered around the table!
5. Rough It Together
Go on a yearly camping trip by picking a particular weekend each year for your family to get away. Go one step further and return to the same location year after year. Take a family photo while you are there with the same background and watch how each year everyone changes.
If you are not a tent camper, no worries – many state parks have cabins or yurts which make it a little easier. Family memories of making s’mores around a campfire are priceless.
Whatever traditions you decide to put into practice know that you will be encouraging a stronger bond and a feeling of belonging among your family members. There’s simply no replacement for quality time spent together.
Leave a comment! What are your favorite family traditions?
Susan Heid is the mom behind The Confident Mom where she loves inspiring moms to make small changes managing their home and family life giving them more time, less stress, and stronger family relationships! Her FREE 5 part mini series: “The Opening Act” is helping moms become the calm and cool mom they want to be! Join the community of moms on Facebook and find her on Twitter @ConfidentMom.
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We’ve been reading to our son (who will be 11 next month) just before bed time since before he was born. About five years ago, he wanted me to read the Harry Potter series to him. I created character voices to help him recognize the characters. He loved it! My wife soon joined us and now we all look forward to bed time, jumping into our bed as I read to them. We’re now almost finished with our third series of books. Doing this at bed time helps him hurry up and get ready for bed on time so we can read before lights out.
We also have said Monday nights are family night. We do activities, sing songs, play games, learn about our faith, and spend time just as a family. This helps us the rest of the week when our schedules are so busy and I work late a few nights.
And camping? We love it! My in-laws have camped together one week a year for nearly 40 years. Our son loves it, too!
Our family traditions weren’t made on a particular day or time or even initially began as such, but we definitely have them! My kids are 15 and 19, but we continue most of the same things we began when they were little – just changed them up a bit.
Board/ Card Games – played anytime there are 2 or more people in the house on any evening. Really. I think our 15 year old is addicted. And, we are all really competitive.
Reading Books as a Family – we started long ago with the Mouse and the Motorcycle because my husband had never read/ heard it (gasp!) and continued through every known series out there. When the oldest left for college, the kids and I began reading books individually and discussing them.
Eating a home cooked dinner together at the same table (no tv) every. single. night. And leftovers were at one point home-cooked, just not that same day.
Praying in one or both of the kids rooms every night. Again, this happened up until the oldest left for college. But, the kids still hug us/ say goodnight and we do the same in return every night.
Traveling far for every single family gathering we can. They had to actually look outside the windows without aid of any electronic devices on our several trips across the USA. So many memories are made when you are stuck int he car with your family members! Most good, I promise!
We created Family Day which is an annual holiday like Christmas or Easter for us. We chose March 15 (a sentimental day for us) and we take the day off work/school and spend fun time together all day. One year touring the Smithsonian museums, one year bowling and games, one year Walk with the Dinosaurs…
For us it’s important to never take being a family for granted.
PS We actually got the idea for this from the book the Life You’ve Always Wanted by Jon Ortberg after reading the chapter on Celebration.
Mia Marie says
We read books every night before bed (in our bed or in our daughter’s bed, her choice), so that was a given, but I was so shocked to see “roughing it” together on there! We got camping on the Olympic Peninsula for a week every summer. It is the best week of the year. Our daughter ( now 2.5 years old) cries when it’s over, she loves it so much. We look forward to it all year long.
For Christmas, my husband and I are making hardcover photobooks of the trip, one for each year. I so recommend a family camping trip for everyone.
My grandparents started a tradition over 50 years ago with their 6 children. Every year they would go on a camping trip to the same spot. To this day my aunts, uncles, cousins, parents, husband and our 2 children go to that same spot and camp together. It’s my favorite tradition and I hope to never lose it.
How lovely 🙂
We have Family movie night. Every Friday night we blow up an air mattress in the living room and our four year old picks out a movie to watch. We watch those we already own so it is inexpensive. After her one year old sister does to bed we pop popcorn and turn off the lights. Our 4 year old loves it. Plus after he movie she gets to have the air mattress in her room and sleeps on it that night.
My ex-husband and I started family night about every Thursday about 9 years ago when my son was about 6. My ex and I have been divorced for 4 years but my son and I still maintain family night and he has expressed to me several times over the last few years how much it means to him. Family night means that we never plan anything on a Thursday evening and my son can pick out whatever activity he wants to do with me. Sometimes it’s to cook dinner and watch a movie, sometimes it will be to play board games and when he was younger it was sometimes Arts & Crafts. I cherish this time with him as I know that with my son being a Freshman in High School I won’t get very many of these moments going forward.
I just wanted to say I completely can relate to your post here Melinda. My son is in 8th grade now and I am constantly attempting to find ways to stay connected with him. It is a very difficult age, as my daughter (19yrs old and living on her own for over a year now) went through this tough age too, but her being female I felt I understood her better – if that makes sense? (I also have a 12 & 10 yr step-daughters and 3 yr old son! 🙂 We do annual family vacation trips to the same places and our children absolutely love those – one being every Easter weekend, that is the one I implemented in about 1999 w/my first 2, which was much before marrying my husband in ’05, and our children look so forward to it every year!
So anyhow, attempting better quality time with my son, instead of quantity, I got us ‘family dinner questions’ – they are cards that create conversations. This has helped a lot with my 13yr old son during meals at the table – even though he, and his friends, sometimes laugh at how corny I am – it still creates some fun conversations and laughs! Anyhow, your post touched me – the main one above and yours here too – thanks so much.
Thank you Lisa!
We make waffles every Sunday morning and my kids always look forward to helping and enjoying 🙂 Great post, seems that life gets going too fast at times and it’s nice to remember to slow down and enjoy!