How can we make traditions a part of family life?
Perhaps your family already has a rich set of routines and rituals, but it’s always good to reflect on rituals and, as kids age, look for new ways to include the kids in planning and evolving rituals. Many of us may be looking to include new traditions in our family life, especially in a time when we are looking to bolster kids’ health and wellness. If that is true for you, try some of these ideas:
Add in a special night of the week. We really like to celebrate when we make it to Friday night, especially these days. Our Fridays rotate between movie night, game night, “camp out” and night hike (or swim!). Our kids have gotten so used to this, that we spend some portion of dinner all week long discussing our plans for Friday. Just having a routine and something to look forward to has transformed our weeks.
Keep it simple. Start small. Try things, see what sticks, then stick to that. You can always make a simple practice more complex as the tradition and your kids grow. For example, at dinner, each person in our family shares a “rose” (a highlight) and a “thorn” (a struggle) from the day. One of our kids added a “bud” (something to look forward to). This tradition has helped our children learn to share, reflect and listen to one another, and it’s evolving with us.
Start with what you value most. Do a brainstorm of the values you hold dear, then imagine or search for rituals that make tangible or pass on that value. For example, if gratitude emerges, do something like thanking your local park rangers for the work that they do on National Public Lands Day. If it really works, do it every September.
Find community in nature. Nature offers us special moments that cycle through month after month and season after season. Learn about the phases of the moon or the four “quarter” days of equinox, summer and winter solstice and the midpoints between them. For centuries, people all over the world have noted these points in the solar year with festivals of many kinds, and these moments map to important shifts in our seasons. No surprise, many common holidays are timed around these moments, too.
Test out a ritual for each season this year! Here is one idea for each of the four:
- Fall Lantern Walk—Our Fall Lantern Walk is an example of a tradition that helps us turn the darkness of “fall back” into a chance to embrace change and celebrate the seasons. Join us this Sunday, November 1—from anywhere—to be part of this beloved ritual: tinkergarten.com/lantern-walk
- Winter Listening Walks (with treats)—We take hikes and walks all year, but we make sure to listen carefully to the sounds you might easily miss in the winter—part of winter’s often hidden magic. We also bring hot cocoa and warm muffins, but only on winter walks, making them extra special.
- May Day Baskets—We are hooked on acts of kindness done for the pure joy of it, so we make, fill and deliver May Day baskets to neighbors each May 1st.
- Summer Solstice—We live near a marvelous sun wheel built on the University of Massachusetts campus. Hundreds of people gather to see the Summer Solstice sun fall over its special rock. Even if you don’t have a sun wheel nearby, you can note that this day brings the longest amount of daylight of the year. Put on PJs, pack a treat and do a PJ-hike to enjoy a few extra minutes of sunlight together before bedtime.
Cheers to us all for setting aside moments in the day, week or season to unplug for family traditions—it’s likely our best way to nurture our families' roots.