We often think of traditions as occurring in conjunction with holidays or other large-scale events. These help give rhythm to and shape our lives. Not all traditions need to be large undertakings. You can start your own family tradition to celebrate and relish the small, everyday moments of life. Summer is a perfect time to introduce and foster a new tradition within your family. The days are longer, routines change, and you may find yourself with a few extra minutes on your hands.
Traditions help define you as a family, deepen your sense of identity, and forge family bonds. They offer moments to look forward to in our busy, fast-paced world, and create lasting memories by bringing us back to a special time and place over and again.
Regular rituals give comfort and security to children. When thinking about which traditions to begin with your family, think about simple activities
so that they can be easily integrated into your life. Look for experiences your family enjoys and ask for input from your children. For traditions to stick they should reflect your family’s interests and values; start slow and begin with one or two. If you are not sure where to start, try one of these suggestions.
Chasing Fireflies: A Summer Tradition
Depending on where you live, fireflies may mark the beginning of summer. They arrive and depart with reliability at the same time each year. Their appearance is fleeting and children are drawn to their slow movement and irresistible light. Each year see who spots the first firefly, and then join in with your children and chase them around your yard or park. Find a way to commemorate this annual event, perhaps by planting a tree sapling in your yard, or creating a family drawing of the experience to hang in your home.
Family Game Night: Something for Everyone
Set a time, maybe the first Friday of every month, and institute a family game night. Cards, checkers, chess and backgammon are perennial favorites that will allow your family to connect while disconnecting from electronic media. Other games such as Apples to Apples, Headbanz, Pictionary, or Scattergories foster silliness and laughter. When selecting games to play with your family, keep in mind the ages and personalities of your children. Younger children can be paired with older siblings, but allow each child to have a chance to select the game. Consider celebrating the last day of school each year with the addition of a new, jointly-selected board game to your collection.
Bowl of Questions: Starting Conversations at the Dinner Table
To find a time for conversation and connection during busy weeks, create a bowl of questions to keep in your kitchen. Place small pieces of paper and a pen next to the bowl. Every week, have each family member add a few questions. Some may include: What was your favorite new experience this week and why?
or Share something today that made you smile.
Pick a regular mealtime when you are most likely to be all together. Have your child randomly select one or two of the questions from the bowl, and over the course of the meal allow each person to share their thoughts
Whether you begin with one of these ideas, or create those of your own, it is predictability and consistency that transform a single event into a family tradition. Find what is meaningful to your family to instill warm memories for years to come.
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