You know it happens.
You’ve seen it on Pinterest.
Families (voluntarily) spending time together. And I’m not talking about time spent yelling at each other - they’re actually doing fun stuff together.
Let me guess. You want a bit of that apple pie-wholesome, Waltons-inspired, white picket fence-style fun. But….the kids don’t comply with your attempts and dad’s already in front of the TV loading up the football.
Is there an easy way to establish fun and meaningful family traditions that bring your family together?
Family traditions don’t have to be Pinterest swoon-worthy or Insta-shareable.
And they don’t have to be expensive or stressful.
Let’s find out how to set up and cherish family traditions without losing our will to stay sober.
1 | Why are Family Traditions Important?
(AKA Can’t we just watch TV?)
Just in case your family are wondering, let’s look at some watertight reasons family traditions are so important.
- Families are (mostly) fucked up
So, spending some fun time together is a good way to do some family-team building. Forget your bickering about who’s using the bathroom first and who ate the last pastry. And instead strengthen your family ‘Us Against the World’ attitude’
PS: If you think your family is not fucked up...look closer.
- Make memories
Time passes frighteningly quickly! Days blend into weeks and before you know it a whole school year has passed. So, make some memories that will last.
- Have fun
Life is full of the mundane, boring and normal. Shake it up a bit with some fun together.
Each family has its own culture. Preserve it. Learn about it. Pass it on.
So, now we know why they are important, how are we going to establish some family traditions that our families will treasure?
2 | Identify what Family Traditions you have already
You already have family traditions.
And they don’t have to be lofty Menorah-lighting ones.
They can be small pieces of your everyday routine: maybe it’s a song you sing to your children just before they go to sleep. Maybe it’s always eating a bacon sandwich on a Saturday morning while watching a TV round-up of the week’s sport. Maybe it’s always playing i-spy on the way to school.
Your family definitely already has some important family traditions - you just need to take some time to identify them.
If you’re a journaling kinda gal, why not take some time to write about what traditions your family already has.
3 | What are Your Family’s Values?
Before we dive into thinking about new family traditions, let’s do some groundwork.
We all have values that we’d like to instill in our children.
These might be based on our faith and our views on the world. And they might be based on how we ourselves were raised.
I’m talking about values like honesty, respect, kindness, good-manners, delayed gratification, taking care of others less fortunate, protecting the weak, ability to admit your mistakes, fair play, and a willingness to work.
I highly encourage you to take some time to think about your family’s top values (pick between 5 and 10). And what top 10 values you feel you’d still like to work on with your children.
Why are we doing this?
Because family traditions must be rooted in your family’s values.
There’s no point trying to force a family tradition that clashes or conflicts with your family's values.
4 | What Family Traditions did You Grow up with?
So, if you’re eager to set up some new family traditions, let’s start easy.
Pick the next major holiday - for me that’s Easter, but obviously it depends when you’re reading this.
Now think about how you celebrated this major holiday when you were little. And ask your husband how he celebrated this holiday as a child. Are there any traditions you’d like to bring back? As a child were there any traditions you’d really wished your family had taken part in?
Make a list.
Now, how about creating some new traditions?
5 | New Family Traditions for a New Family
We know it’s important to pass down family traditions that you or your husband grew up with. But it’s unlikely that you and your husband grew up with exactly the same family traditions.
And it’s even likely that you and your husband have conflicting family traditions - ‘Oh, you open Christmas presents before breakfast? No, we opened them after breakfast’.
So, time to make some new traditions.
Back to that upcoming major holiday.
Start easy by writing the name of that major holiday in the middle of a piece of paper and thinking about what activities, food, music, decor, clothes and treats you’d associate with that holiday.
Think about how you’d like to celebrate this major holiday this year - pick 3 or 4 new things to try. And here’s a list of 60 different family traditions you might like to start.
6 | Adapt Where Necessary
Whatever ideas you come across in Pinterest, feel free to adapt them to suit your family’s values (that we considered above in section 3).
For example, Pinterest is wall-to-wall full of the mischievous Elf on the Shelf at Christmas. But you may prefer to use the Kindness Elves.
And at some point, there are some family traditions that you may have to adapt to reflect the ages and interests of your kids - you can’t expect teenagers to keep exactly the same traditions as when they were middle schoolers.
7 | Food as a Family Tradition
Although you may think this is just my glutinous side coming out - and you’d be right - food has historically played a key role in family traditions.
Think about it!
Where would Christmas be without Turkey, mince pies and Christmas pudding?
OK, you’ll have your own Christmas celebration food.
But you see what I mean, right?
So, if you’re struggling to get your family interested in family traditions, start easy. Start with their bellies.
8 | Be Cool
I know you’re all gung-ho for setting up new family traditions.
But, remember that you can’t introduce 20 new family traditions all at once. Start with a few small celebrations and see how your family reacts. You’re unlikely to strike gold first time, but keep digging and you’ll find something wonderful.
And be cool about introducing them.
Don’t announce, ‘hey y’all, welcome to your new Annual Family Tradition’. It’s a bit Stepford Mom weird. Know what I’m saying?
9 | Document your Family Traditions
There’s no such thing as too many photos.
Snap those funny Christmas pjs and cute birthday cakes.
But don’t stop there - journal about them, talk about them, cherish them. Make sure your family knows that these things are part of their ‘culture’.
The Glue Bind Us
Family traditions hold us together when we’re falling to pieces.
Because family traditions evoke that sense of camaraderie, love and togetherness that make day-to-day petty squabbles seem like….well, just petty squabbles.
So this is important life-changing work, mama.
Good luck setting up some new family traditions - tell me in the comments below how you plan to celebrate the new next major holiday. I can’t wait to hear about it.