The Importance of Having Family Traditions

I love to listen to podcasts on parenting.  One of my favorite is Eyres on the Road by Richard and Linda Eyre.  They wrote my very most favorite parenting book, The Entitlement Trap: How to Rescue Your Child with a New Family System of Choosing, Earning, and Ownership On one of the most recent podcasts I listened to they talked about developing strong family traditions and how doing this helps create a strong family bond and encourages kids to  want to be with their families.  Richard said when talking about teenagers that they “cling to traditions.”  We have all probably experienced for ourselves or seen  it in our own families that kids love traditions and it is important to keep those traditions.

The Eyres talked about how traditions don’t have to be only the big ones at Christmas or birthdays, but traditions can also be at bedtime, when kids get home from school, Sunday dinners, etc.  I love that they stressed having traditions for even the small and simple things we do every day as well as the big events.  After listening to this podcast I felt motivated to take a look at the traditions that I grew up with and the traditions that we are doing as a family now.  I think that we passively are doing traditions in our families (good or bad), but they suggest to be more focused and intentional about these traditions.  The Eyres suggested that we do three things to make our traditions more intentional:

1. Review our traditions and make a list of the ones we want to keep or add.  (This is best done in a family meeting)

2. Record our traditions in a way that helps everyone in the family anticipate and remember the traditions (write it on a calendar, or a written list that is posted).

3. Carry out these traditions with joy.  Parents should be enthusiastic about these traditions.

I love these steps to follow and I can see how each step is important.  I’ve heard that writing down goals can make them more likely to happen and I think it’s the same way with traditions.  Including the kids would be a good way to get everyone on board and agree to the family traditions that are important.  Reviewing the traditions is also a good way to evaluate our traditions to make sure that they are valuable.  For example, during Christmas is there a tradition in place to focus on Christ and serving others rather than just the fun/commercialized parts of Christmas?  To record these traditions you could make a poster to hang on the fridge or write it on the calendar and then after the tradition, the kids can write about it their gratitude journals.  The Eyres have a tradition book that they use to write about all of their traditions and record their memories about them.  I’m sure that some traditions are easier than others to be enthusiastic about as a parent, because let’s face it… some of our traditions are a lot of work for parents!  So if the kids are wanting a tradition that you really don’t think you can maintain year after year, then find a compromise that you are willing to repeat and be excited about.

I haven’t had that family meeting yet with my own family to decide on traditions because I wanted to gather a list of traditions first.  Here goes my traditions brainstorm….

Family Traditions

Birthdays:

  • Let the child choose a tradition for his/her birthday (The Eyres mentioned bowling, jumping in leaves, floating a cake)
  • Decorate the house the night before
  • Big friend party
  • Family party
  • Same event/place every year (sporting event, play, movie, water park, park, amusement center, etc.)
  • Tape balloons in plastic behind a shut door so that when kids open the door the balloons fall on them
  • Cake (nicely decorated, doughnut cake, certain kind of cake, etc.)
  • Birthday person chooses dinner
  • Morning pancake in the shape of the age they are turning (a 3 on their third birthday)
  • Sparklers in cake instead of candles (Warning: Do NOT do this one indoors.  My poor mom had a burn in her dining room table ever since my 16th birthday because my friends thought this one was a good idea…)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas:

  • Get pajamas on Christmas Eve
  • Recreate the nativity scene with all the kids and cousins
  • Choose another family to secretly buy gifts for
  • Decorate sugar cookies
  • Christmas cards & letter
  • Each child gets a new ornament
  • 12 days of Christmas service activity
  • Donate toys and clothes to a family in need or a thrift store
  • Ugly sweater party
  • Rotating which kid gets to put the star on the Christmas tree
  • Elf on the shelf (I personally hate this one, but the kids love it so I feel stuck…)

Beginning of School Year:

  • School clothes & supplies shopping (give kids a certain amount of money and they have to budget that money to make sure they get everything they need)
  • Have a talk with all school aged children individually about pornography and sex (age appropriate)
  • 1st day of school picture by the front door
  • Record in their journals what they want to be when they grow up and what their current interests are (read about kid journals here)

 

 

 

 

 

Dinner:

  • Everyone eats at the table together as often as possible
  • Sweet and Sour Service (read about it here)
  • 60 Second speeches- The Eyers talked about this one and it sounds fun.  Each person has 60 to give a formal speech on a random topic.
  • Assign kids to help cook the meal and to help clean up after the meal.  They can earn rocks for their jar- read about that here)

Bedtime:

  • Family scriptures and prayer
  • Gratitude journals (read about these here)
  • Dad and mom each take half the kids and put that half to bed then they switch the next night.
  • Make a dice out of a wooden cube and write 3 M’s and 3 D’s on that die.  The kids gets to roll the die to see who puts them to bed that night (M=mom, D=dad).
  • Read aloud as a family
  • Read books individually
  • Read stories about ancestors
  • Lay out clothes for the next day

Other times you can brainstorm traditions you want to do as a family could be:

  • Season traditions (Summer, Spring, Fall, & Winter) (We go to Lake Powell and Flaming Gorge every summer and my kids look forward to these trips all year)
  • Holiday traditions
  • Last day of school traditions
  • Early-out from school traditions
  • Sunday traditions (church, dinner, family game night, etc.)
  • When kids get home from school and leave to go to school
  • When kids leave to the house each day (for example, my husband’s mom always said, “remember who you are” before kids walked out the door).
  • Making a family theme for the year
  • Memorizing a scripture or quote as a family

I’m sure there are so many other times that your family will want to define your tradition, but these ideas should get the ball rolling.  I’m also guessing that as kids get older that these traditions will change.  It would be good to have a family meeting once a year to reflect on the traditions and decided if any changes need to be make.  I like the idea of having a traditions book that can easily be added to and changed, but at the same time will be a place to remember all the traditions from the time the kids were little.  I will add an update to this post after I have had a meeting with my own family to let you know how it goes.  I would love to hear some of your favorite family traditions and if you try to make them more intentional as well.  I’m hoping that these family traditions can help my family feel nice and happy!

 

Finding Your Top 3 Priorities

Have you heard of Matt Townsend?  I really hadn’t until he came to our town for a presentation.  I saw the posters everywhere so I looked him up to learn more about who is he and what he teaches about.  Turns out he is a motivational speaker focusing on relationships.  I watched this video where he talks about 5 things that women should learn to let go of.  His first idea that women should let go of is the idea that we can have it all.  What!? He says that we truly can’t have everything, so we should just stop trying.  Sounds the opposite of motivational, right?  However, he goes on to say that we CAN have our top 3 most important things.  This has got me thinking about what are my top 3 things and wondering is he right?

I have paid attention lately about what things I get done in a day and I’m trying to decide if those are part of my top 3 things.  I’ve decided that they usually are, but that my top 3 priorities change.  For example, some days my focus is on the house and getting it cleaned and organized.  Other times I am focused on a project around the house and I can’t do anything else until that one project is finished.  A few weeks ago I started the process of getting hired with VIP KID to become an online tutor teaching English to Chinese students and that was my priority and focus.  When I started this blog that consumed me for awhile.  My most current priority is planning a trip to Hawaii (a rather fun burden, I might say).  But as I’ve thought about these things and how they can control my focus I started feeling a little shallow.  Shouldn’t my focus be on spiritual things or family?

This is what I’ve decided:  I can clump the really, really important things into one group and call it “relationships with God, family & friends.”  If I really think about all those other things that felt like they were at the forefront of my mind, I can see that my relationships with others was always at the back of my mind. The reason I started with VIP KID is so that I can help provide for my family’s needs; projects can help develop my God-given talents; and even planning a trip is a way of strengthening my relationship with my husband.

My other two top priorities are the ones that can change day to day.  These ones depend on what our schedule looks like for the week and what trials we might be facing at that time.  Some examples for me include rotating kids clothes for seasons or growth spurts, cleaning the house really good, building a chicken coop, getting ready for a trip, surviving the endless list of activities planned for the week, service, finishing a book, working out, eating right, making extra money, how to deal with childhood anxiety, ways to limit screen time, teaching my child to read, potty training, etc.  You get the picture, right?  There are so many important things that rotate throughout our lives and it’s important to identify the top 3 priorities of today, because they might be different tomorrow.

My suggestion is to first identify that number one top priority that will always be there.  Once that is decided then daily or weekly, write down your floating 2 priorities.  I know that for me, when I focus on the “objective” of my day I feel much more focused and am more likely to get things done; at least the top 3 most important things.

A few ways to think about what your priorities should be are to ask yourself these 5 questions:

-What deadlines do I have today?

-What energizes me?

-What have I been neglecting (if you write down your top 3 priorities you will be able to see that the bathrooms have not made your list in over a month).

-Who needs my attention right now?

-What can I do for others?

I never did make it to that conference with Matt Townsend as the key note speaker, but I am grateful that I stumbled across his name and have been able to reflect on my top 3 priorities.  I always appreciate help to keep my focus and be productive… in fact, it makes me feel nice and happy!

DIY Shower Cleaner

I am slightly embarrassed to write this post today.  I am including pictures of my dirty shower and if that’s not being transparent, I don’t know what is!  We have hard water, so it doesn’t take long for our shower walls to develop a white film covering them.  Cleaning a shower is something that feels like a major chore, so I’m sure I don’t do it as often as I should.  However, a few years ago I heard about a great DIY shower cleaner that works great and really isn’t terrible to clean with.

The mixture is simple:

1. Pour 1/2 Cup* Distilled White Vinegar into a measuring cup and heat in the microwave for about 30 seconds.

 

 

 

 

 

2. Pour the vinegar into a spray bottle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3.  Add 1/2 cup* of Dawn Ultra Dishwashing Liquid Dish Soap into the spray bottle.  My spray bottle has measurement marks on the side of the bottle that I use to help measure, but you can estimate if yours does not.

 

 

 

 

 

4.  Spray the shower walls, floors and hardware.  Allow to soak for at least 10 minutes and up to a day.

 

 

 

 

 

5.  Using a sponge and some hot water, wipe down the walls and floor.  I like to use a sponge with a handle and fill it with water.

 

 

 

 

 

6.  Rinse.  The easiest way I have found to do this step is when I am in the shower.  I just bring a big cup into the shower with me and make sure the walls are rinsed well.  (No pictures of this step will be given for obvious reasons.  You’re welcome.)

*The measurements really don’t matter as long as they are equal parts vinegar and Blue Dawn dish soap.  1/2 cup of each usually gives me plenty for two showers.

Ta Da!  A sparkling clean shower!

 

 

 

 

 

The easiest way I have found to keep it clean is to have a Microfiber Cleaning Clothh by the shower that I use to wipe down the walls when I am finished.  Other ideas are to use a squeegee or a shower spray.  I have tried a homemade version of a shower spray, but I didn’t love it.  I’ll keep searching for one and share it when I find a good one.

Don’t judge me on how gross my shower can get!  I’m hoping that I’m not the only one out there with hard water and difficult to clean shower walls.

A freshly cleaned shower makes me nice and happy!