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!