Traditions, rituals, and routines are deeply important to me. They give me a peaceful, internal rhythm that helps me navigate the more chaotic realities of life. Perhaps that is why I am so thrilled to be a new mom, finally unleashed to begin establishing family traditions with my very own child.
If you are someone who loves traditions and rituals but who has not quite made the dream a reality yet, I would suggest starting out small. Establish one new tradition: either a daily one or a weekly one. As that begins to take, maybe you could attempt to establish a daily ritual, a weekly one, and a monthly one—just a few suggestions for the novice tradition maker.
Our daily ritual is bed time. This is a very accessible place for creating traditions—your child has to go to bed anyway! It might as well be meaningful. When it is my turn to put our daughter to bed, I read her a story of her choice, we have our prayers, and then I rock her while I sing lullabies. This is an important bonding time for us, especially since I didn’t have the privilege of mothering her until she was already three.
Our weekly tradition is Sabbath. We are not Jewish, but as I have studied the practice of Sabbath, I have been drawn deeper and deeper into the wisdom of it. It gives such a sense of closure to the busy work week, and creates space to welcome in the rest and play that a weekend should include.
Our Sabbath ritual begins on Friday evening and includes a bit of wine for Mommy and Daddy and some juice for our little one, and then some bread or crackers, too. We have our prayers and blessings, and then we talk about our plans for Saturday—how we will rest and play. If this sounds idyllic, don’t be deceived! Sabbath has been a little hit or miss for us, and we’re more into it some weeks than others. Also, some weeks do not allow for a restful Saturday. Still, we press on.
We don’t have a monthly tradition yet, but if and when we establish one, it will probably be a monthly day trip—pure family time. We have done this often, but not every single month. Getting away, even for a day, can be so refreshing. A picnic lunch, play time at the park, and maybe a museum for Mom and Dad are the ingredients for a great day trip for us.
Beyond these regular traditions, we have a few more I’m happy to share with you. We always try to celebrate everybody’s birthday—especially family members’ who live far away. This is great on two levels—1) it’s a nice excuse to make a cake, and 2) it helps connect our little girl to her new family members who are not close by.
Two final suggestions:
- Mommy dates and Daddy dates are a must. If we don’t take time for giving individual attention to our kids, we may not get around to it at all! Some of my most precious memories from childhood include Saturdays with my dad. We would make muffins, go to the park or the mall, or just drive around. I treasured those special, one-on-one times.
- If you don’t have a book or blog that focuses on traditions, I highly recommend finding one! I love Sarah Ban Breathnach’s Mrs. Sharp’s Traditions (Scribner, 2001). This is a fabulous book of ideas for “reviving Victorian family celebrations”, and they are broken down by season.
I wish you a ton of joy and good memory-making as you carve out your own family traditions.