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….
- 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…)
- 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)
- 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)
- 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!
Easter is right around the corner and I was thinking how much I look forward to Easter because of our traditions. My son said it just right; I reminded him that Easter is this weekend and he said, “when you say Easter a memory comes right to my brain and I know just what to imagine.” I think it’s fun for everyone when we can know what to expect on a holiday and have something to look forward to.
Tradition #1- Family
Easter is a great time to get together with family. Cousins (usually) make everything more fun for the kids. My family usually gets together at my sisters house where the weather is typically the nicest this time of year and we can play outside. If you don’t have family nearby then you can invite a few family friends to join you in some of these traditions. It takes effort, but trying to be with family makes a great tradition in and of itself.
Tradition #2- Egg Drop
My family has been doing an Egg Drop for about 5 years. We gather a bunch of junk and craft supplies: felt, empty toilet paper and paper towel rolls, empty kleenex boxes, egg cartons, grocery sacks, string, plastic cups, pipe cleaners, bubble wrap, paper, Ziplock baggies, and whatever else we find laying around. Then each person gets a raw egg and has to design a way to protect that egg from being broken when dropped from a high spot. My nephew is an amazing thinker/builder, so his is usually the most intricate. Its fun to see how the designs are different every year. Once everyone has their egg protected we start the drop! The first drop is from somewhere close to 10 feet from the ground. After the drop everyone checks their egg to see if it broke or not. If your egg survived the first drop then we move to a higher spot and drop again. It’s fun to have about 3-4 drop places. If we are at my sister’s then our highest spot is from a window of her three-level home. It works best if the ground below is hard, like rocks or concrete. Try to have some sort of silly prize for the winner. While typing this, I just had an idea that you could make a trophy that travels with the winner and each year the previous winner would bring the trophy and then pass it along with the new winner. You could write the name of the winner and the year on the trophy to keep a record. Maybe we will add that to our tradition this year…
Tradition #3- Easter Egg Hunt & the Golden Egg
Duh?? Right? Our family typically does a few of these. We have usually gone to big Easter egg hunts put on by the city, but last year we decided to avoid the crowds and just do a big one on Saturday with our family. When we do one at home, my parents always include a Golden egg with some money in it and this egg is hidden really well. My oldest nephew is usually the one to find it, but my kids are really hoping that this might be their year! It was honestly kind of nice last year to not fight the crowds at the big egg hunts. We have been to ones at a swimming pool where kids dive down and get eggs filled with coins. My kids were young and not great at diving under water, especially when they are completely surrounded by other kids doing the same thing and we left empty handed. It was stressful and sad for the kids (however, there are always nice kids who notice empty baskets and share). We’ve also been to big egg hunts where there were so many kids and not enough eggs and again left empty handed because my kids were less aggressive at getting those eggs! And of course, you always have to worry that there might be an Easter Bunny mascot on the loose at these events, which often showed up later in my children’s nightmares… I’m starting to think that maybe my kids need to toughen up?? Anyways, take a good look at your kids and their personalities and do whatever will suit them best. But realizing that we had more fun doing our own egg hunt was liberating last year… and there were no tears! My family also does an egg hunt Sunday morning when the Easter Bunny hides our eggs. I have a friend who asked their Easter Bunny to hide the eggs on Saturday, so that they can focus on spiritual things on Easter Sunday. There are many ways to include an Easter egg hunt in your Easter traditions.
Tradition #4- Dye Easter Eggs
I’m sure this is an original idea… but if you want different ways to do this traditional event you can check out my pinterest board I created just for dying eggs. There are so many fun ideas out there!
Tradition #5- New Dress Clothes
I know we are not alone in this tradition. Easter is the best time to find cute Spring dresses because so many people get an Easter dress. We also like to get our boys a new tie to wear to church on Easter. My amazing sister has made my boys a tie and my daughter her dress the last couple years and they turn out so cute! I’m hoping she will start an etsy shop soon so you can all enjoy her talent like I do! We don’t always have the budget for brand new church clothes, so homemade options are typically more affordable. I will include a few links below to great stuff that Amazon has to offer.
Tradition #6- Cad-bury Mini Eggs
Need I say more? Did you know that Amazon sells these in bulk!?? My friend filled me in on this best kept secret and now I’m sharing with you. You’re welcome.
Tradition #7- Easter baskets
On Sunday morning, the kids get to come out of their rooms and see what was left in their Easter basket and then hunt for the eggs that the Easter Bunny hid. We usually fill their Easter basket with a movie or a book and then one big candy item. I refuse to buy those big pre-made Easter baskets that cost a fortune and are filled with junkie toys that will be broken or scattered across your floor untouched (see my No Toys for a year post here). I used to sell Usborne books, which we always gave to our kids on Easter. I still highly recommend these interactive books for Easter baskets. Since we go to church every week, I try to give them books that they will enjoy during church. We usually get our kids one thing as an Easter gift as well. This year we will give them muck/rain boots so that we are more prepared for mud season! Kites were a huge hit a couple years ago. My parents like to give all the grand kids a matching shirt. They have 6 grandsons and 1 granddaughter, so all the boys get a matching shirt and then my daughter gets to stand out a bit.
We are looking forward to another Easter and the fun traditions we enjoy. I would love to hear what traditions your family has on this holiday. I hope you have a nice and happy Easter!