You’ve got your daily and weekly routine down pat. You even have a couple of monthly activities that are important to your family’s centeredness. While in some ways that may seem like enough, there are a few more opportunities to establish special family traditions. In the effort to create a grounded, connected family on the path of life together, all efforts count: The day-to-day, the month-to-month and the season-to-season.
When looking for regular rituals to build your family bond, look between and beyond the holiday traditions and the weekly, regular rituals. Look at your life seasonally and see where you can add in a routine or two to make each season special in its own way. What activities and opportunities are there to further build the bond?
celebrate the seasons
Each season brings with it changes in climate, specific holidays and events and changes to the family schedule. While change can be challenging at time, work with the changes instead of against them and celebrate the calendar change. Look at the change of seasons as an opportunity to renew seasonal family traditions and experiences — or create a new tradition.
Once every few months, take the opportunity for weekends away if you can. Break up the routine with a slightly different routine. Allow the time to be an opportunity to gain new perspectives and see new things. Whether you stay with friends, find an inn or break out the old scout tents for a woodsy adventure — a ritual of time away from the usual can be a terrific ritual in and of itself.
Yes, even seasonal household projects can be a time for bonding. The yard needs to be cleaned up for spring and when the whole family works together, it gets don’t faster — and you can end the day with every family member planting some favorite flowers.
Perhaps the choice can rotate through the family (age appropriately, of course): Take turns working on things the kids would like as well as what the parents would like. Perking up the playroom, for example, so your pre-teen can have more craft space, or cleaning up the side yard for a pitchback for the determined Little League pitcher.
There are often regular events in your community that can be the signal for a family ritual. The winter carnival, the spring planting of beach grass, the summer community fair and carnival, the fall pumpkin carving contest — these are all events to put on the calendar year to year and make a habit of attending as a family. Eventually, your regular attendance in community events could evolve into event participation and organization as a family.
Perhaps your family loves going out on a charter fishing boat to enjoy the ocean and try some angling, but the cost of it is just too high for frequent outings. Planning — from a schedule standpoint and budget standpoint — to do that activity once a season may be the way to go. Look for ways to do family favorite things once in awhile so they stay special, but not so rare that it feels like it never happens.
Routine, ritual and tradition are ways families establish a strong, shared core. From the day-to-day comfort of regular routine to the special family traditions invoked around holidays, and every time of the year in between, ritual and tradition help build the bond of family. They provide the framework of comfort and safety and shared experience that our kids will carry with them for their whole lives.