Growing up, I don’t remember my family having a lot of traditions. Sure, we had Christmas dinner with my grandparents, everyone got together for Thanksgiving and maybe the 4th of July, but everyday family traditions, not so much.
Maybe this had something to do with me being 12 to 14 years younger than my brothers, so I was raised almost like an only child. My brothers were around, but by the time that I knew what was going on, they were grown!
But when I was in high school I had a good friend that was the oldest of four. I loved going to her house because it was like a party all the time! They had little inside jokes, nicknames for each other, special meals for special days. It was great! That is when I decided that one day, I wanted four kids of my own!
Photo Courtesy of Elizabeth Smith Photography
When my husband and I were first dating, I can remember sitting at a Cracker Barrel with him (we live in a very small town and going to Cracker Barrel is a special treat! He surprised me by asking (while I had my mouth full), how many kids I thought I wanted to have. I held up 4 fingers. “Four!” he cried, “Four? I was thinking more like two!”
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Well, God has a funny way of working things out, because our #2 and #3 came together and baby girl was kind of a (wonderful and happy) surprise all around! But here I am, with four beautiful children and yes, it is kind of a party all the time! (However, it’s a little different from this perspective! Lol!). I’ve learned that it’s not the number of children that you have, but putting a little effort into making memories…. everyday family traditions!
Our Everyday Family Traditions
However, now I am looking at my sweet babies, and I want them to have wonderful memories from growing up. I want them to have strong ties to home and our family. I want there to be special things that they look forward to on a random Tuesday in September, not just on holidays!
It’s easy for me to get worked up with ALL THE IDEAS and the Pinterest perfect family bucket lists. Now don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Pinterest and I LOVE dreaming of my ideal life… how everything would look and work out perfectly!
And then… I plan and plan, and then… I get completely overwhelmed and realize… I’m not marking anything off of our Winter bucket list!!! Ugh!! I feel like such a failure!
Recognizing Our Own Family Traditions
And then, one night, we were driving home from church, and one of my boys asked, “Mama, is this our popcorn night?” You see, several years ago my husband and I started eating popcorn on Sunday night, because we usually have a big meal at lunch on Sundays. Then, the kids wanted in on our little treat!
“Our Popcorn Night!” Those words were so sweet to me! Here I had been longing to give my children family traditions, something special that they would always remember and maybe even pass down to their children, and without even realizing it, it just happened!
On “Popcorn nights” we take a big quilt and spread it out on our floor. These are our “popcorn covers”! This ways our kids can eat their popcorn (and usually cut up apples & peanut butter) in the living room which is a rare treat in itself!
Everyday Family Traditions: The Simpler, the More Doable
Family traditions don’t have to be big, expensive, or time consuming. Sometimes the sweetest ways that we make memories are the things that don’t take any real effort at all.
Each day on our way to school we pass a small river. I had been driving over this bridge for years, but it wasn’t until my oldest started going to school with me that I even really noticed. One day, when the water was up, he got so excited! “Look mom, Look at how far up the water is!” And, without knowing, a new tradition was born! Now, almost every day, we all have to check out the water level of the river.
“Wow, the water is really up, Mom! Look!” Those words always make me smile!!
That may not seem like much, but you know what? It doesn’t take much! Just a few minutes of connection with your kids! Something that is just yours, together!
So, here are some ideas (with varying levels of difficulty)! I hesitate to make a list, because I don’t want anyone to feel like it’s a check off list (hey, I get it, that’s my default too). However, maybe you can get an idea or two. Or maybe you will realize, like me, that you already have some wonderful everyday family traditions and you can breath a sigh of relief… You’re already doing a great job at making memories with your kids!!
Ideas for New Family Traditions
Celebrate your child for his accomplishment. For example, your son makes the soccer team, so he eats out of the special red plate and you spend time talking at dinner, telling him how proud you are of him.
Mom or Dad Date Night
Mom or Dad takes turns taking each child out for a special one on one “date”. If you are like us, a Saturday morning breakfast might work out best!
Highs & Lows
Each night at dinner, let each member of your family tell about one good thing that happened that day, and follow with one bad or not great thing that happened. Talk about what made the good things so great & what could have changed to make the bad things better!
Kids in the Kitchen Tuesday
Pick whatever day works best for you and start letting each child take turns helping you cook supper! After all, you’ve got to eat!
A Family Garden
What better way to bond than to plant and watch things grow right in your own backyard. There are also MANY spiritual truths that become more apparent while gardening, it’s a great time to teach your little captive audience.
We celebrate every New Year’s Eve with chocolate fondue and fruit ( + other fun dippers)! It sounds fancy, but it’s really VERY easy. There are many other holidays and special occasions to pair with other favorite meals or treats!
Hot Chocolate Bar
This is one that just kind of happened last year by accident… My husband was working late and I made my boys hot chocolate (not uncommon). I decided to put little toppings out on the table, like marshmallows, whipped topping, sprinkles, candy canes, chopped Andes mints and we had cookies and sweet popcorn on the side. Talk about a hit! They loved it so much that we now have a special hot chocolate bar set up thru the entire winter!
Before tucking your little ones into bed, ask them a few bedtime questions! This can be such a fun way to get your kids talking… good luck trying to get them to stop with one!! Check out my Bedtime Questions printable in my Resource Library!
Kids Tuck Mom and Dad In!
What a fun way to start a weekend, if you can trust them to go to bed afterward! =)
An after dinner walk is a great way for everyone to unplug and enjoy time together. I’ve also heard about Full-Moon walks which sounds like so much fun!
Pick one night every week or so to play games as a whole family! Order pizza so you won’t be stressed about cooking!
Summer Family Day
Have a Summer Family Day (or a Winter Family Day for that matter!). This is an idea I found on The Better Mom a while back, and while it may take a little effort, and it sounds like so much fun!
“Kidnap” Your Kid
In The New Book of Family Traditions, Meg Cox mentions that one mom “kidnaps” her children from school one day each year! She makes sure that they won’t miss anything too big, and then surprises them a few hours into the school day by picking them up. Then mom lets the child pick what they want to do that day! (This would be a great way to give each child a little individual attention that they all need!!).
Holiday & Birthday Family Traditions…
Countdown to Christmas
I have a weakness for cute Christmas countdowns, and I have passed this fun tradition along to my children! We have multiple countdowns and we usually add a new one each year or so. We all enjoy it (well… maybe I panic a little) as we see Christmas getting closer and closer!
Nativity Set for Kids
Have a special kids Nativity set that you allow your children to play with (or even decorate their room) throughout the Christmas season. You could even move the shepherds and wise men around until they end up at the manger on Christmas morning. (Check out this Christmas traditions post for more great ideas for Christmas traditions).
Fun Birthday Family Traditions
There are a TON of awesome ideas for unique birthday traditions (check out this post for more!). Streamers in their bedroom doorway is a fun way for them to wake up. Then, start the day with breakfast of the birthday girl or boys’ choice. In our house, it’s usually pancakes with whipped cream and sprinkles. Check out my free birthday interview printable & watch for an upcoming blog post on awesome birthday traditions!
There are many other wonderful everyday traditions that your family could adopt, but be sure that it brings joy to everyone, not stress! And remember, there are plenty of ideas out there, but the best ones are the ones you make your own.
So what are some of your family traditions? Do you find that the less complicated they are, the more joy they bring? Let’s keep the list going, please take a minute to share some of your family’s special traditions!
Want to remember all of these fun family traditions? Pin this post to your favorite Pinterest Board! And take a minute to follow me on Pinterest while you’re at it! =)