Routines, Rituals & Traditions in Families

Routines provide consistency and predictability. They help our kids feel safe, and we as adults feel more organized and less chaotic. Specifics of routines tend to be unique to each family. Rituals and tradition provide comfort for kids and more than that, tend to be the foundation of our childhood memories as we grow. They provide markers for our passing years, establishing our identities and values, and a deep sense of belonging within our families. 

Many traditions and rituals are religious.  December contains twelve religious celebrations from around the world. Each has a set of rituals shared by people who celebrate them, bonding these groups and re-grounding members in the values and connection of the group. Here are a few children’s books that explore holiday celebrations. Find a friend with different winter celebrations than your family has and ask to learn about their traditions.

Create your own! Family pizza and movie nights every Friday; Sunday bring-a-friend dinners, weekly family meetings, apple picking every fall, volunteering during winter vacation, spontaneous family dance parties. These are all family-made traditions that make deep memories. When something you do together is enjoyed by all and is repeated, it can become a tradition. 

Look back to celebrate the year that was: On a piece of poster paper taped to a wall, come together as a family to brainstorm all that you can about the past year. Big things, silly things, transitions, challenges, special meals, and outings. These “remember when…” conversations prompt laughter and groans and connection for your family. Leave the poster up and have markers available to continue to add to it as more memories reveal themselves.

Create routines for daily life: The predictability of daily routines helps to provide a comforting structure to the days. Including school breaks and other disruptions to the regular flow. Small things that your family does as a matter of course add up to be the threads that create the fabric of your lives… a clear bedtime routine, regular chores each day, eating meals together, etc. What you do as a family creates a pattern that helps your child to make sense of their part of the world and lays down a blueprint that helps them to organize themselves as they grow.