Joshua is now 2 years old. We would like to nurture a cozy family culture. According to the book "The Sixty Minute Family" by Rob Parsons, one of the ways to do so is to establish family traditions. Family traditions help to establish bonding, closeness and a sense of connectedness in a family and is the glue that keeps a family together. Years down the road, when the children have all moved out, it would be the memories of the unique things that you do together that would bring the family together. It doesn't have to be elaborate. It is better to keep it simple and stress-free. It is the people that counts.
24 ideas for family traditions:
Here are some 20+ ideas from others I have found which we will select and adapt for our family:
1. Meal Under the Table
Once a month or so, have meal or snack under the table and bond with your child.
2. Martha the Cook
Once a week on a weekend, dad can don a special apron and cook for the family. Give a nickname to dad e.g. Martha the Cook :-) (Note: Dad doesn't have to be a good cook. Even if the cooking goes terribly wrong, Dad can always fall back on a contingency plan of a take-away food, it will still be worth the effort and the memories that this family tradition sets.
3. Pizza Night
Florian's colleague, M, has this family tradition: he will make pizza once a week for his his wife and children, who each gets to choose a topping. It doesn't have to be pizza, it can be dumplings with different fillings for a Chinese dad :-) For busy dads, it doesn't have to be once a week, it can also be once a month.
4. One-Minute Speech
Have a "one-minute speech" during dinner. Give a family member a topic - anything from honesty to the funniest thing that happened that day - and the person speaks for one minute on it.
5. Family Devotion Time
Once a week, worship God, pray and read the Bible together as a family. This is something I aspire for my family, but we have not achieved it yet.
6. Family Night
Once every two weeks, let the children drag their mattresses to your bedroom floor and sleep together with you.
7. Super Family Night
Once a month, drag all your mattresses downstairs and sleep in the living room floor altogether with your children. (There's no good reason why as we all have our beds other than it's great fun.) Switch off the lights and light candles (you can use the fake candles for safety). The candle lights somehow helps to create a cozy conducive environment for family-togetherness. You can spend the evening talking about old family memories, or future aspirations.
Once a month, allow your older children to sleep in your bed where you talk into the wee hours of the morning. Spend the next morning having breakfast in bed with them. Try having coffee, tea, or milk with a couple of cookies or muffins.
9. Cozy Closet Night
Once every quarter, sleep in the walk-in wardrobe as a family. Chit chat, play cards and tell stories. Someone else has the same idea too.
10. Sleeping in Tent
Kick off the summer with a BBQ, sleep overnight in a tent in the garden or the balcony and tell a story under the stars. If you don’t have a balcony, nobody says that you can’t put up a tent in the living room and sleep in it. Doing something different than sleeping on the bed brings excitement, even if it is in the living room. During at times like that, you will see your children open up and share deeply as a family. For families without a garden or a large balcony, find a favourite campsite.
Here is a post on our camp:
Once every summer, go to the beach. In the evening, light the fire, eat chocolate and tell stories in the darkness.
12. Snobrød (Danish Bonfire Twistbread)
Once every summer, go to the beach or the countryside, build a campfire at sun-set and make snobrød (Danish twistbread on a long wooden stick) with the family. If you live in the city, you can use a one-time BBQ grill to make snobrød.
Once every summer, go canoeing together in a Danish canoe that comes with a cover. Watch the sunset, light the lamp in the canoe, have hot chocolate, sing and share.
14. Build a Cozy Hut
When going for a walk in the forest, once in a while, slow down, enjoy the moment and build a cozy hut for your children. It will create a lot of fun and bonding. This is something I need to learn - to slow down and enjoy the moment. It does not come naturally for me.
Once a year, rent a caravan and drive to somewhere together. Cook, eat and sleep in the caravan. Even if daddy does not feel confident to drive a caravan, just drive a symbolic distance and park it stationary in a campsite in subsitute of a tent :-)
16. Board Game Night
Have a weekly board game night. Turn off the TV, the ipod and the iphone!
17. Movie Day
Have a movie day once a quarter and eat popcorns, rice cakes or curry together, depending on which culture you come from :-)
18. Christmas Stocking/Chinese Angbaos
Once a year, fill stockings with small presents at the end of the children's beds on Christmas morning which they can open as soon as they wake up. When I was young, my mum would hide an angbao under my pillow, on Chinese New Year's Eve when we slept, and we could open it on the first day of Chinese New Year the next morning when we woke up :-)
19. Christmas Calendar
Once a year, make or buy a Christmas calendar with a little token present for each day Dec 1 till Dec 25. Each little present can be accompanied by a story related to Christmas and Jesus.
20. Spring Cleaning
Once a year, do spring cleaning of the home together as a family. Let the children put on swim suits and slide on the wet floor while you are mopping the floor. I got this idea here. For Chinese, it is a tradition to do spring cleaning once a year, and I remember growing up, watching and helping my mum with spring cleaning to usher in the Chinese New Year.
This has been a tradition in my family for as long as I can remember. Every Chinese New Year’s Eve, we have steamboat (hot pot) at home with my parents. It’s a very fond memory for me and a great way to spend the evening with family as we usher in the new year. If you are not Chinese, you can also try fondue instead of steamboat.
22. Journey to Bethlehem
Inspired by Having Fun At Home, once a year, celebrate Christmas by recreating the scenes at Bethlehem. Turn off the lights and light candles for the evening.
23. Have a Clear Your Calendar Day
Every quarter, have a Clear Your Calendar Day, where you have nothing planned on that day, do nothing, but simply spending the day with your children and spouse, doing whatever it is that they like to do:
24. Crazy Family Day
Once a year, do one really crazy thing together. Following are some crazy ideas from Having Fun At Home blog:
If you don't have children, having family traditions is still very important as they can help cement a marriage. Here are some ideas for couples without kids:
1. Have a weekend lie-in listening to Sunday Love Songs on iPod.
2. Getting away over an anniversary weekend.
3. Using silly phrases that mean a lot the couple, but nothing to anybody else.
4. Candles on a Saturday night.
5. Swapping resolutions on New Year's Eve.
6. Even simply never going to sleep without a kiss.
Four elements of effective family traditions:
When you create your own family tradition, make sure you consider the following four ‘MUSTS’:
1. Communicate Clearly
Communicate to the family that you plan to do this regularly, even to the point that you set specific dates and time. For example, every year at Spring Break, we go camping at a great nearby state park… we plan on it.
2. Make an Effort
Work diligently to create memories. It takes time to make memories, but kids don’t remember time… they remember memories.
3. Keep It Simple
As you make memories, remember to keep it simple. Simple is always best, especially as we live in a overly complex world.
4. Create Teachable Moments
This is something you have to prepare for. When you get that brief Kodak moment, be prepared to share something special, intimate, and concise. Tell your kids that you love them and are proud of them every chance you get! I got a lot of inspiration from reading this book:
If you have more ideas to share on what your family do to create cozy family tradition, I would love to hear it :-)
I am inspired by these two books and I found many insights about how to manage my family, which I would like to share. You can also find these books from Amazon. This book is simple and easy to read. It is thin and can be finished in a short time. I finished reading it in 2 evenings:
This book is on the other hand a little harder to read, but is jam-packed with very structured and well illustrated principles, which challenges one to a reach a higher goal in one's family:
References and other ideas:
- The Sixty Minute Family by Rob Parsons
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families by Stephen R. Covey