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!

 

The Last Time

One of my very favorite activities that my two little ones still at home and I do in our weekly routine is Story Time at the library. I want to make a Meme that says, “All my friends were made at Story Time.”  It’s kinda true as a mom with little ones.  My kids love going, but sometimes I admit, that I go for me just as much for my kids.  Its a great place to see my friends and catch up while the kids enjoy their friends, dancing, singing and a great book.  In our new town we have really grown to love our Story Time lady, Miss. Michelle.  She is seriously THE BEST!  She makes it so fun and entertaining for the kids… and the moms!  She has 4 kids of her own, so she remembers what it’s like to be in this stage of motherhood.  Yesterday, she read this Poem just for the moms and I wanted to share it here:

The Last Time

From the moment you hold your baby in your arms,
you will never be the same.
You might long for the person you were before,
When you have freedom and time,
And nothing in particular to worry about.

You will know tiredness like you never knew it before,
And days will run into days that are exactly the same,
Full of feedings and burping,
Nappy changes and crying,
Whining and fighting,
Naps or a lack of naps,
It might seem like a never-ending cycle.

But don’t forget …
There is a last time for everything.
There will come a time when you will feed
your baby for the very last time.
They will fall asleep on you after a long day
And it will be the last time you ever hold your sleeping child.

One day you will carry them on your hip then set them down,
And never pick them up that way again.
You will scrub their hair in the bath one night
And from that day on they will want to bathe alone.
They will hold your hand to cross the road,
Then never reach for it again.
They will creep into your room at midnight for cuddles,
And it will be the last night you ever wake to this.

One afternoon you will sing “the wheels on the bus”
and do all the actions,
Then never sing them that song again.
They will kiss you goodbye at the school gate,
The next day they will ask to walk to the gate alone.
You will read a final bedtime story and wipe your last dirty face.
They will run to you with arms raised for the very last time.

The thing is, you won’t even know it’s the last time
Until there are no more times.
And even then, it will take you a while to realize.

So while you are living in these times,
remember there are only so many of them
and when they are gone, you will yearn for just one more day of them.
For one last time.

-Author Unknown-

Isn’t that awful!  I mean it’s a beautiful, but so sad too.  Honestly, some of it I like to claim that I won’t miss.  Like the whining and fits

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and trying to feed stinky baby food to a baby who just wants to spit it in my face…

 

 

 

 

 

But there might be a few things I miss.  There really is nothing sweeter than a sleeping baby…

 

 

 

 

 

I want to be more mindful about enjoying the moment.  All the moments.  Even the difficult ones, but especially cherishing the sweet ones.  I have this quote framed and hanging right above my kitchen sink to remind me to do keep my kids and family my priority over all the stuff that needs done.  Here is a free printable for the quote if you’d like.  I’ve also included a printable of the poem. (You can also click on the images to get the PDF version).

I hope I can remember to a be a nice and happy mom today just in case there is a last time.