We all have a handful of cherished family memories—things we did with our family which comforted us when we were little. These traditions may have included decorating the Christmas tree, or visiting a special relative in the summer, or even humorous and mundane things like a certain dish mom used to make—terribly.
Why not begin creating your own special traditions? They can be solemn or downright silly, whatever suits your brood. I’m going to use this page to begin a list of ideas of creative new rituals to try with my kids and husband, to build lasting memories, learn more about them and the things they value, and to simply share quality time with the people I love most.
Her are some ideas:
1. Create a Family Phrase Book.
Rather than downloading and printing pics for the photo album, why not start a compendium of all the cute, zany, hilariously unintelligible and downright heart-melting things your kids say? (This idea comes from my inability to assemble a scrapbook, overridden by my desire to remember all the precious moments. My husband keeps our photos organized on the computer, not to worry!)
- “Hey, do you want to go to Christmas? Get your raincoat!” Now that Joseph is three, his imagination has run wild. His “raincoat” was a scarf he’d pulled from the front hall closet. Hey, I’d love to go to Christmas. (Joseph, age 3)
- “I can feel my poops in my nose.” Joseph rather poetically said this when he caught the aroma of, well, his toots. It took us a moment to decipher it, and then we all cracked up. (Joseph, age 3)
- “I can’t want it!” This was his rendition of “no thank you” for a while. Can a person not be able to want something? We finally convinced him to decline in a more dignified manner, but to this day, my husband and I replace “no” with this puzzling phrase. (Joseph, age 3)
- “I make you beautiful, mommy.” This was Joseph’s reassurance to me one day when I was disappointed about something. I don’t remember what the let-down was, but I am certain that whatever beauty I have, my family is responsible for it. (Joseph, age 3)
- “I made a rainbow by planting seeds and sprinkling with milk.” Joseph said this after seeing a rainbow one morning. (Joseph, age 4)
- “I’m friends with anyone who calls me Noah.” When I asked 3-yr-old Noah who his friends are at his new preschool, this was his answer. And whatever you do, don’t call him “dude.” He will set you straight.
2. Play “Something Nice Happened Today!”
This is a fun twist on counting our blessings. It requires little ones to think about the events of the day, and pick out the highlights. It builds a sense of abundance and joy. Life looks pretty good when you consider how many wonderful things happen every day. Remember, this exercise has nothing to do with “big” things like winning the lottery or getting a raise, or a puppy, or what-have-you. This is about finding joy in the everyday. For example:
- “I met a new friend at the park and we played pirates!”
- “I wrestled with Daddy and I won!”
- “I drew pictures with my crayons, and built a spaceship with my Legos.”
- “I took my race cars into the bubble bath!”
- “I read a new book.”
Moms and Dads can offer their own blessings. These can be as simple as saying “I saw you sharing with your brother and helping him” to something much more meaningful. The significance of this to share with your child what you consider a blessing, what is important to you. Showing gratitude for your child’s contribution to your life firms your bond and increases self confidence.
3. Keep record of the most unexpected moments of parenthood
When you were pregnant, you spent hours thinking about how life with baby might be. When your little cherub arrived, reality turned out to be a lot more work—and a lot more unexpected!– than you ever imagined. Children love to hear stories about themselves, especially things that happened when they were “little”—the sillier the better!
- Total obsession with Star Wars. My husband brought home the Star Wars Lego Wii game, long before either my 2- or 4-year-old were old enough to see the movies. It stirred something very deep and primal in them. They are absolutely obsessed with using “the forest” (the force), spaceships, planets, and “wight sabers.” At night, they request the Star Wars theme-song in place of lullabies, and wish ardently to collect all the Star Wars Legos kits that are find beyond their intended age range.