Growing up I experienced life in a close-knit family with lots of family rituals and routines that promoted a sense of togetherness. The family rituals designed by the adults in our family brought us not only a sense of comfort and happiness but also provided us with a sense of closeness and kinship with each other.
Today as a parent myself I see how these family rituals shaped me as an individual and I would love for our son to experience such a rich family life too.
Before we get into the examples of family rituals and routines, let’s first understand,
WHAT ARE FAMILY RITUALS?
Family rituals are the activities we do with our families that symbolize “who we are”. It is the personalization aspect of rituals that provide a special meaning to the group of activities and gatherings that are considered family ritual.
Rituals are different from routines in that routines convey more of “this is what needs to be done” whereas rituals provide more meaning to these by symbolizing “this is who we are”.
Family rituals create a family culture.
IMPORTANCE OF FAMILY RITUALS
- As already discussed, rituals symbolize who we are as a family. They create a family culture.
- Family rituals build a sense of belonging, togetherness, kinship, and identity.
- Family rituals create a safe space at home.
- They build confidence in children.
- Family rituals can be a great tool to spend quality time with your children.
- Family rituals are also used to create a sense of continuity across generations and a way to help different members of the family to connect regardless of age and generation gaps.
- Rituals can also help cope during tough times like losing someone, transitioning to a new school, dealing with illness in the family, etc.
HOW TO CREATE FAMILY RITUALS
1. Don’t complicate things. You don’t need to have elaborate rituals and routines.
2. Instead look at what you value as a family, and what is your family philosophy.
3. Focus on your children and their unique personalities. What kind of a ritual do you think your child would enjoy? Keeping our children at the center of our thought process helps make our family rituals that much more personal and special.
4. Use rituals as a tool to instill good values and bring the family together.
5. You don’t need to hold on to any family ritual if it no longer feels right for you or your family. Families go through changes over time, it is okay to stop certain rituals and/or start new ones instead.
EXAMPLES OF SPECIAL FAMILY RITUALS AND ROUTINES
Daily family rituals can be built around the family routines in the morning and at bedtime, or after school. Other than these think of where you can add family rituals to special days of the year like New Years’ Eve Family traditions, family rituals for special holidays and celebrations in the house, and religious or spiritual events.
Let us take a look at some examples of family rituals and routines
Morning family rituals
Family breakfast time
Having the family together for breakfast is one way to start your day bonding with each other. If all of you have a similar school and work time, breakfast can be an opportunity to connect before everyone carries on with their day.
School drop-off rituals
Make school drop-off special with a fun goodbye routine, either a catchy phrase to cheer the kids before school like, “See you later Alligator”, or maybe come up with a special love message or keepsake that’s unique to your relationship.
I love using a special goodbye message when I say goodbye to my son at the school gate. This simple addition lights his eyes up every day at the gate and he is always looking forward to the drop-off because he wants to say the message before I say it.
Morning special time
When our son was a toddler, we didn’t have anywhere to go after breakfast and the house would be quiet after breakfast, just the two of us. I used this time slot of the day and called it our “Morning Special Time”. I would sit with him and a cup of tea and we would play games and read books from his book basket.
This time we spent together, helped both of us start our day with connection and once his cup was filled with mommy’s love and attention, I could easily move on to working and getting started on home chores. To know more about our toddler’s daily routine, read this post of mine.
After-school family rituals
After-school snack board
A fun and easy way to prepare snacks for kids after school is to lay out an after-school snack board.
The presentation of a yummy-looking snack on a charcuterie board encourages even the pickiest eater to give it a try. Include a mix of your child’s favorite snacks, nutritious dips, fruits, and nuts. A snack board encourages children to try fruits and vegetables in the colors of the rainbow. Add yummy-looking dips to make the tasting fun.
A school day can be quite stimulating for little children. Including a short period of Quiet time after they get back helps the child recenter, develop focus and recharge for the next part of the day.
If you don’t already know what quiet time is and its benefits, check this post of mine. This simple daily ritual has improved the quality of our family life by giving all of us time to pause and reflect and then come back to each other after recharging our empty cups.
Evening family rituals
Park time routine
Evening Park time can be used as a time to start a bonding ritual with your kids. Depending on what your family and children like you can use the following ideas
- Parent-child sandpit play.
- Special rides
- Kite flying
- Treat your child to their favorite food after park time.
The family table is also a great place to introduce family rituals. A family prayer before meals, conversation about the day, and having special family-style meal nights are all great bonding exercises that will leave you with memories to last a life time.
Special bedtime routine
Bedtime sometimes ends up becoming a battle, adding calming family rituals to the bedtime routine can make bedtime a relaxing experience.
Some rituals you can consider are prayer time together, gratitude practices, using affirmation cards before bedtime, a special massage routine after bath time anything that you think that could make the bedtime routine more calming and a chance to bond with your children and gain more insight into how they are feeling and what they are going through.
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Special family days
You can also insert special family rituals outside of the daily routine to mix things up and align with your family value system.
Examples can be,
Themed Dinner nights
Seasonal rituals like specific crafts and family activities centered around the season or seasonal bucket lists.
for eg, celebrating autumn by making autumn-themed nature garlands or making special Winter/ Summer foods.
Growing up we had many such seasonal family routines that evoked a sense of togetherness in our family. For example, every winter on Friday evenings we had chicken soup before dinner, my grandma also made special methi and dink ladoos in Winters that were part of our winter breakfast table, and my mom used to plan a lineup of special treats and jams to be made during the winter and summer holidays as a way for us to cook together.
All of these family rituals were centered around food but they created a lot of excitement and a feeling of belonging within the family. We cooked together and enjoyed all of this delicious food together.
Weekend family rituals
If weekdays are too busy to make time for daily family rituals, you can try weekend family rituals.
Growing up in India, my grandma gathered all the kids of the house on the weekend and gave us a head oil massage called “Champi”. I absolutely hated this growing up, but now as an adult, I look back at that time spent with my grandma with nostalgia.
Other ideas you can come up with depending on your family culture and location are,
Special weekend bake session
Long car drives
Food truck hops for a special weekend lunch.
I love having birthday rituals to celebrate our children and do something special together besides the birthday cake and party routine. Some ideas for birthday rituals,
- Birthday breakfast in bed.
- A special birthday letter to the child from mom and dad.
- Birthday countdown.
- A visit to a place that is important to the child. When I was growing up, I had an art-loving phase and loved to color and paint in my free time. For one of my birthdays during this time, my mom took me on a surprise visit to a local art gallery, we bought an art print I liked and donated money to a local art charity. The entire trip was so memorable, I was beaming with joy.
- Let the child decide how they would like to spend their birthday.
Holidays and Special celebrations
The holiday season brings with it a special cheer and excitement. I love getting my family into the holiday mood with a run-up of activities. We start decorating together, my son and I do craft activities and make decorations or holiday greeting cards, and I bake and make special sweet treats.
The entire mood of the house around the holidays is that of a happy buzz and fun activity.
You can come up with your own holiday traditions like,
Christmas cookie baking with the kids
Decorating Christmas ornaments together
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Hope this article helps you incorporate some fun family rituals into your routine. Comment below and tell me if you have some family rituals of your own.