Trapsing around the Christmas tree farm for hours trying to select the perfect tree can take its toll on the joy of the event. But somehow each year when the time comes, we laugh and recall the various crazy things that have happened over the years during the yearly tree picking event. The decision to include weekly or monthly traditions sprouted from those familiar and warm memories. WHY MAKE THEM ONCE A YEAR? Traditions are repeated rituals that provide a sense of identity and help tell the story of your family. Recreating the same experience, whether it’s once a week or around specific events like birthdays or holidays, builds shared memories. The hope is that each time you do it you’re reminded of all the previous (hopefully happy) experiences you had doing the same thing.
We all have our own version of trapsing around a paddock full of pine trees, a unique family ritual we experienced growing up. As we become parents and form our own families, we get to decide which of those to carry forward into our holiday celebrations AND daily life. We also have the chance to form new traditions.
Building new traditions can be a lot of fun, so here are some ideas for meaningful every day and holiday rituals to get you started.
1. Start a happiness jar
At dinner, everyone shares the happiest moment of their day. For bonus points you can write them all down, put them in a jar and then pull them out and read them back at the end of the month or year.
2. Have the same meal on the same day every week
How about Taco Tuesdays or breakfast-for-dinner on Fridays.
3. Host a family talent show
Sing a song, do a drawing, or run the 100m dash—everyone chooses a talent to showcase as you cheer each other on.
4. Have a show and tell night
A familiar game to school-age children can be a great thing for the whole family. Every family member chooses one thing to bring to the dinner table and shares why it’s meaningful to them.
5. Take a daily or weekly family walk
Early in the morning or after dinner, a short walk is a great way to get out of the house for a bit of exercise and away from screens. If your kids are small, the stroller is a great option and as they grow, they’ll be excited to walk along with you.
6. Read bedtime stories
Apart from boosting their reading skills, sharing a bedtime story with a child promotes their motor skills (through learning to turn the pages) and their memory. It also improves their emotional and social development and encourages the bonding process.
7. Plan a monthly Mummy/Daddy date with each child
Choose a special morning or afternoon where they get to pick what you do to spend some one-on-one time together.
8. Choose a community service project
This is even better when done regularly, whether quarterly or annually, returning to the same project or cause on an ongoing basis gives kids a sense of familiarity and mastery as they look forward to helping each time.
9. On birthdays, present your child with two envelopes
One envelope is labelled, “New Privilege” and the other, “New Responsibility.” Amidst all the fun and presents this is an opportunity to remind your child that with age comes greater power and that with greater power comes greater responsibility.
10. Conduct birthday interviews every year for each family member
Cover the same set of topics annually, including questions like “What was your most memorable moment from the past year?” and “What are you most looking forward to in the next year?” Save everyone’s interviews in a folder and read back over them regularly to mark the passage of time.
Whether you choose to adopt ideas from this list or design your own, having family traditions is an important part of communicating your values to your kids. Not only that, but traditions are an effective remedy against what can sometimes feel like the daily grind of parenting. They help lift us out of ordinary life to create peaks when we feel we’ve plateaued, and memories that result from them will be treasured for years to come.