Routine. Kids tend to thrive on it — and adults find comfort in it, too. Whether it’s the rhythm of a morning as the house rouses or the comfort of bedtime patterns starting with the youngest member of the family and flowing right through to your lights out, ritual is a part of our lives.
When those rituals happen less frequently — say, on holidays — we tend to call them traditions — but both the daily ritual and less-frequent traditions are important in creating family togetherness. Establishing family rituals and traditions is an important part of establishing the family bond.
No matter what you call it, small and big repetitive actions and efforts are one of the ways we create “home.” They are what become the conscious and subconscious signals about centeredness and safety and togetherness, and it’s what we seek to recreate when the going gets tough. The same thing over and over again among family members creates connections. You may be able to count on little in this world, but you and your family can count on your created family traditions.
Active, not passive
Just like creating daily routines, creating traditions for your family is not a passive activity. All rituals, whether seasonal traditions or day-to-day habits require effort to keep going. You may get so good at the bedtime routine that is seems like it runs itself….but someone — you! — has to initiate it.
When you consider family traditions, those rituals you hope your children will hold onto through the years, you have to start them. You have the opportunity to create the traditions that you and your children will look to when they are looking for that feeling of home. You may find that at first you need to “schedule” some of the ritual, but it will be running itself soon enough
Your own childhood
A whole new set of family traditions? What will become childhood memories? What a daunting task! How do you even begin?
You likely already have some family traditions in your home, some from your childhood and some from your sweetie’s: a grandmother’s pie or a regular fair outing or the like. Perhaps the traditions came to you by default and you love them — or you’d like to replace them with something all new and unique to your family.
Look to your own childhood, past the obvious holidays and to the day to day traditions that you loved the most. When, how, and why did you feel most at home and safe? Was it the apron your aunt wore when she made you cookies? The rootbeer with your dad on the stoop on a summer night? What of those memories and comforts can you bring into your own home? The question to ask yourself: How can you bring those moments, those traditions into your family life?
A gift to your children
Identifying and developing family traditions is a gift to your children and to yourself. You are giving them a unique family language of safety and security and affection that they can carry with them even as they grow up and leave home — and start creating traditions for their children.
The brand of root beer, the pie recipe, the fair in the calendar, and the funny aprons will all be ways your family can come back to that feeling of home. They are your family traditions.
Tips for creating your family traditions:
- Consider the components of your favorite childhood memories. Ask your spouse, too.
- Choose ways to bring those kinds of memories into your current life, whether weekly, monthly, seasonally or yearly.
- Consciously create the environment where those new rituals and traditions can flourish.
- Put reminders on the calendar until they become habit.
- Talk to your kids about your own childhood memories and your favorite parts of certain rituals.
- Repeat as needed!
More on family traditions