One of the things I looked forward to most before becoming a parent was establishing family traditions. I envisioned our family dinners and Christmas mornings. I really love having events and activities that I can count on year to year or even week to week. It brings comfort and stirs up warm memories to think about the things we repeat as a family. While I enjoy spontaneous adventures and trying new things, the most cherished events are those that we do over and over again.
Traditions are things that the family talks about frequently and provide a common bond that knits the family together. Some family traditions are large scale like holiday functions, annual vacations, and trips to the pumpkin patch. We look forward to those events all year long. However, traditions aren’t just centered around major holidays and seasons. There are lots of things you can do as a family that are woven into daily life.
I wanted to share some fun ideas for smaller scale traditions that you can establish with your family now. Most of these do not cost a lot of money and do not take a lot of time.
Have a Weekly Pizza Night
This is our longest standing tradition that we started when our oldest could first eat pizza and it continues on today! Back in those days, our little family was less busy and Friday nights were always low key. The tradition started when my husband started making pizza with my daughter. Pizza night continues today although it’s not always homemade. When we have time we make them from scratch or at least with already prepared dough. Some weeks we order out. Anyway we have it, it’s still a fun and requested tradition. Pizza on Fridays is a must for our family!
Plan a Regular Movie Night
This activity often pairs with our weekly pizza night but not always. Sometimes if we know we are going to be busy on our pizza night we find another night to watch a movie, even if it means movies on a school night! Sometimes this is an “elaborate” affair with the kids bringing out their sleeping bags and stuffed animals. Popcorn is always required! Around the holidays we are sure to watch movies that celebrate the season. Our favorite movie nights are around Halloween where pair up some fun holiday themed snacks to enjoy with the not so scary movie.
I really hope this tradition continues throughout the years. Even as the kids get pulled in directions outside of the house, I hope they try to make it a priority to be home for these few hours of the week.
Schedule Breakfast Dates
This tradition started about two years ago when we noticed that our schedules were getting crazy. The kids started being involved in more activities and spending more time with their friends. Consequently, there was less family time and one-on-one time with each other.
So we started taking turns going to breakfast with each child. Whoever’s turn it is gets to pick the place to eat. The kids love that they get to make this choice and I have certainly eaten more donuts and bagels as a result of this!
This is really a chance to talk to each child individually and chat about things they might not share with the whole family. These dates are a nice and calm opportunity to have heart to heart chats without any interruptions.
One week my husband will go with one kid and the next week I’ll go with one kid. So each parent goes out twice a month and each child gets to go twice a month (one with each parent). Our youngest isn’t part of the tradition yet since he is still home with me and we get a lot of one-on-one time! I can really see how this tradition will be beneficial as the kids get older.
Lunch Box Notes
This little tradition is super easy but has a high impact on the kids. My husband or I spend a couple of minutes writing or doodling a quick note to each of them for their lunches. I had thought at some point we might outgrow this tradition but my 3rd and 5th grader still request these notes. I keep them super simple and jot down a note about something going on in their day or put a little drawing on there that has meaning to them. Sometimes I get fancy and print out templates from Pinterest. My daughter saves all of hers in her desk until the end of the year and then brings them home. My son brings them home each day and I save them in a ziploc bag.
I have big ambitions to scan them and make into a book when they get older - I hope the notes hold up and I can make this happen.
There are mornings when time is short and I want to skimp on this gesture. However, I am motivated because I know it is such a treasured tradition for the kids.
This is a fairly new one that I’ve started with my ten-year old daughter. I got a mother and daughter journal from Amazon a few months ago and we’ve been writing in it ever since. It is such a sweet way to communicate with her. This particular journal has some lead questions to allow for writing ideas or you can use the blank pages and talk about whatever you want. We have fun exchanging the journal back and forth every few days and we leave it on each other’s night stands when we are done writing in it.
My own mom and I did something similar back when I was in high school. It was a great way to “talk” about things and express feelings in a less intimidating way. I really see this as a great communication tool as we enter the teen years soon. What a great keepsake to have of conversations between you and your child. I also found a mom and son version which I plan to start soon.
Even if your kids are little, you could start a journaling tradition by writing in a journal to give to your child when he/she gets older. I wish I had written down more memories of the kids when they were very little. Also, as soon as your kids can draw or write you could start the pattern of exchanging notes and pictures back and forth to each other. Sometimes my daughter would leave me bedtime drawings when she was little and it was the sweetest thing! I will be keeping those forever.
Some of the best memories as a family are those that you can refer to - “We always…”. We always have pizza night and we always have a movie night…
There are probably already things that you regularly do as a family that are becoming traditions. Just find a few things to work for your family and start something fun!
Disclosure: This post originally appeared on Jaclyn’s blog https://www.