When you think of family traditions, you might think of the holidays – a time rooted in family gatherings, celebrations, and creating memories. However, traditions aren’t bound to a certain time of the year (like December) and they don’t have to be big. It’s often the little things that come to mind when we think back on traditions from our own childhood – a favorite dish you mom would make, summers at grandma and grandpa’s house, swimming in the lake with your cousins, or a song you would sing each night before going to bed.
Family traditions are more than the holidays – they are a way to create a sense of belonging, security, and meaning in your life together as a family. They are also a way for you to bring your family closer if you have been struggling to connect. It’s easy to let the day-to-day responsibilities dictate our schedule, and especially live our lives in a very reactionary way. Traditions you establish will help bring back the joy, spark, and love in your family.
Why Family Traditions are Important
The reason family traditions are so important to us is because of something my husband and I learned in marriage counseling. At a very low point in our marriage, our counselor pointed out that we didn’t really have anything we stood for as a couple and young family – we just adopted whatever traditions and habits we had with our parents and extended family but were not creating anything that was OUR OWN, together with our children.
So began our intentional move on creating new family traditions. This new focus brought on positive changes in our life together as a family, and strengthened both our relationship as husband and wife and our relationships with our children.
Not only was this beneficial to us, it also became quickly evident that our kids loved our new family traditions. Children thrive when they know what to expect and what is expected of them, which I learned as a former elementary teacher. Family traditions provide a framework for you kids to understand 1) what matters to your family, 2) what their roles are inside of your family and 3) what events and celebrations they can anticipate and look forward to in the future. Being a kid can mean a lot of unknowns! So family traditions can help create a sense of safety and belonging.
Examples of Our Family Traditions
There are several things we do as a family throughout the year. Here are a few of those examples :
Annual New Years Family Staycation
We started this tradition at the suggestion of our business coach, who encouraged us to set goals together with our kids and create a family “play list” of all the fun things we wanted to do together in the coming year. Rather than doing this at home on a random night, we decided to step it up and make it a fun event and thus began our Perry Family New Years Staycation. This year was our 5th year!
Creating a family motto
This came from our first new years staycation, where we brainstormed and created a family motto. Our oldest helped us because she was 9 at the time (our middle child was 2 years old was too young and our youngest wasn’t born yet.) Our family motto is “Perrys To The Top” which means we always strive to do our best through kindness, hard work, and empathy. We even had T-shirts made for one year of our staycation that said #PTTT!
My husband and I both love to travel, so we prioritize it in our family so that our children can experience it from a young age. We created a family tradition of “6 weeks of Summer” where we have now spent 6 weeks overseas for the last 3 years : Belize, Italy, and London.
Friday Pizza Night
This is a simple tradition that our kids REALLY hold us accountable to! They love knowing that Fridays are for pizza as a family – plain and simple. It’s an example that family traditions don’t have to be big. They just have to be consistent. We usually order in and put on a movie or sit outside and make s’mores for dessert!
Sleepovers with Mom
My husband travels often, so when he does I have a little tradition with our girls that they can have a “sleepover” in mom and dad’s bed. This is also a tradition that my kids hold me very accountable to!
Peaks and Valleys at Dinner
Nightly dinner at the table is a tradition we rarely break (unless we go out or are out of town.) Here we share our “peaks and valleys” of the day, going around the table sharing one good thing and one hard or sad thing about the day. I have seen the girls’ responses grow from learning how to say “my peak was…” (Paige has been saying it since she was 1yrs old but not actually giving a response, just saying those words) to giving heartfelt thoughts about their day. It teaches inclusion, empathy, and reflection which are very important characteristics as they grow into adults. This practice also helps us learn what’s going on in our kids’ days at school!
NYC with Dad for their 16th Birthday
This is something we haven’t done yet but is something my husband has promised each of our girls. Our oldest has two years to go, but they are both really looking forward to their one-on-one trip! The idea came from a deli there called “Russ and Daughters”, and my husband (named Russ) made it a goal that he wants to get a picture in front of it with each of his daughters.
Of course, the holidays are a wonderful time to establish and celebrate family traditions. We have made a tradition of creating supply packs and treats for the homeless and passing them out, and we also go out for Japanese food on Christmas Eve (to honor my kids’ Japanese heritage!)
How to create your own family traditions :
- What are some simple, small things you can start doing consistently together as a family? It can be something super small or silly, like a 10 minute dance party while cleaning up after dinner or donuts on Saturdays. Remember, the importance often isn’t about what you are doing but the consistency!
- What are some good memories or traditions from your childhood? Let those inspire you with ideas for your own family.
- Learn your children’s love language. Knowing what fills their cup can help you identify what might be some ways you can honor them as part of the family in a way that is meaningful to them.
- What are some milestones you can highlight and celebrate together?
- Is there an opportunity for you to spend time with your family away from the distractions of regular life? Maybe a staycation or a road trip up north?
I hope this gave you a few ideas for some new traditions you can create with your family! Remember, it doesn’t have to be a grand gesture or expensive trip- just something small and simple that everyone can look forward to! We also have two podcast episodes on this topic: How to Create Your Own Family Traditions, and Perry Family Holiday Traditions.
Happy tradition making!