Family therapist Ron Taffel asked kids (nursery school -sixth grade) “What is your favorite thing to do?” 80 percent–four out of five–cited everyday rituals with their parents.
By using rituals, we help ourselves and our children make better sense of the world. They begin to regard even the mundane—a bath or a family dinner–as sacred moments of connection and togetherness. -Family Rituals by Barbara Biziou
A December 2002 review of 32 studies affirms that family routines (such as bedtime, chores, and dinner time) and family rituals (such as birthdays, Christmas celebrations, and family reunions) are associated with marital satisfaction, adolescents’ sense of personal identity, academic achievement, children’s health, and stronger family relationships. From About.comUpdated: November 24, 2003
Make sure everyone is included on creating the rituals and traditions used within your home. The more invested each member is on the planning and creating, the more meaningful it will become. You may go to the soccer games, the dance lessons…but the quality time is within the home. Make the time, plan the memories…its a family thing. Family should come first!
“We all know that sharing food is the ultimate symbol of nurturing and togetherness.”
Decorating the table: make the table beautiful—candles, flowers, thought…You may have a special item (goblets, candlesticks, china, decor) that is only used when you eat together as a family.
Prayer: You may want to hold hands while praying, or have a special prayer that you share together.
Breakfast–Use breakfast as a time for a early morning break. Encourage the family to quiet their mind, enjoy the meal before a busy day.
Weekly Family Dinner: Have a specific time each week (at least) to share a family dinner. Give everyone an opportunity to plan the whole meal, the decor, the theme, the job assignments, etc.
Ex: Mom may love a flower theme (flowers, china, manners, dressing up, classical music, etc),
Brother may want a soccer theme (soccer ball center piece, BBQ, game plan for place mats, etc), Sister may want a tea party (tea cups, little sandwiches, dolls & stuffed animals as guests, etc), Dad may want a mustang theme (model cars for the center piece, BBQ ribs, Mustang fun facts for table, 60’s music, etc). Have fun with the planning and the whole idea of family connection.
DInner fun: You can have a family dinner fun…have a jar with random questions or buy the family dinner games Family Time Fun Dinner Games and Activities by FamilyTime Fun–there are even conversation cards.
Hold a family meeting once a week–schedule the time to be together as a family to talk, to listen, to be with one another. Everyone is free to discuss whatever is on their mind. Report weekly events.
Plan upcoming holidays, activities, ideas that will help connect the family.
You may want to incorporate a talking stick—get together to make the family stick and talk about how it will be used during family weekly meetings. The idea…whoever is holding the stick has the right to speak. No one is allowed to interrupt or criticize the speaker. Have the family paint their names, decorate it, make it your own. Before incorporating the talking stick into family meetings make sure everyone understands how it is used. This stick is to allow anyone and everyone to share whatever is on their mind (frustrations, good things, or anything they would like to get off their chest) Stress that no one will be criticized or punished for any wrongdoing and that using the stick is not a time to “get” someone else. It is to help share feelings without interruption, to heal hurts and bring connection through emotions and the feeling of safety within the home.
This is also a good way to stop daily arguments or fights—simply tell the children…I do not want to hear about this right now, it sounds like something that should be brought up during our family meeting.
Family Vision Board: have everyone select pictures that are meaningful to them on a personal level (ie: soccer, ballet, new job, a home, a garden, thoughts, quotes, family connection, etc) pick your favorites and create a family vision board that is put somewhere for everyone to see, to think about.
Share history: help your children to know and understand what it was like when you were growing up–what you did and didn’t do, activities you participated in..your history. Kids love to hear stories about you & them!!
Also share the meaning(s) behind symbols within holidays—the symbols of a christmas tree, why eggs are used at easter, candy-canes, etc. The history of different meanings within the holidays.
Weekly Chores and Pizza–have a specific time each week to do family chores together and then order pizza. You could also incorporate daily chores into the overall weekly goal…they do their chores every day and on Saturday night they get pizza.
Play Day–have a weekly ‘play’ activity with the family. Try to make it the same day and time each week and rotate who chooses the activity. Ex: Friday Night Fishing Night—pretend fishing game with fun goodies attached.
OR this could also be a day you keep your kids home from school and play hooky (maybe do this once every six months) and spend the day playing games, eating in bed, doing whatever you want as a family. I call these special days “Mommy/Missy Days” (since I have a young daughter) but you could have a special name for them too.
Date night–This goes for mom & dad–at least once a week, BUT you also need to schedule some “Daddy/Daughter” or “Mommy/Missy” or “Father & Son” “Mommy & Me” dates. Try to take each child on a special date at least once a month—it doesn’t have to be anything huge…a special trip to get ice cream, to go to the mall to window shop, an evening walk…something that just gets the two of you connecting.
Little things–Saturday morning cartoons & a big pancake breakfast, Dad takes the kids to buy donuts on Saturday morning while mom sleeps in, after the dentist/doctor go play skeeball at Chucky Cheese or go for ice cream, a monthly breakfast to IHOP for crepes, create a FAMILY playlist of songs that play in the car (a little something everyone will enjoy), warming up coats in the dryer on a cold morning, or the simple act of throwing a towel or robe in the dryer before someone gets out of the bath/shower, writing love notes on napkins that are going in lunches or a simple “I LOVE YOU” in lipstick on a bathroom mirror at the beginning of the week. Helping your kids with responsibility—chores and allowance.
Quiet time: every evening before bed…homework done, nice music playing, alone time, everyone is quiet…journaling, relaxing, unwinding from the day.
Weekly service: Choose someone who needs a little cheer and make them cookies or take an elderly neighbor their favorite fast food sandwich and shake, take an inspiring note or story to a special teacher or friend.
Shake up your family night: Have a camp-in where you bring in the tent, sleeping bags and light a fire, have smores, tell stories….or make a huge tent in your living room out of blankets and have pizza…OR do something you would not ordinarily do, like go to the symphony or an art museum or see a prof. sporting event.
Play Genie: Grant three small wishes to each family member on starred calendar days. (Be prepared to have quesadillas for breakfast or go to the movies on a school night.)* Real Simple
Nightime– Saying prayers, reading a book, singing a song or simply relaxing helps ease into bedtime.
Create a ritual to sing a special goodnight song. Give your child a special foot massage while talking to them about the ‘highlights’ of their day. Is there a special story to share or special back scratches.
Special Bedtime Buddy: have a special buddy to help create security and safety through the night.
Highlights of the day: talk about the highlights of the day while unwinding into bed.
Dream Pillow: Make a special dream pillow–you can spray a scent like lavender to help with sleep. This pillow is to help with sweet dreams–if your child talks about fears or concerns with their day, express that sleep will take them away and the dream pillow will bring good dreams.
Nightly Ritual: special foot massage or back scratches
For adults or older children:
To release the day…No clutter or work in your bedroom. Cover any television or computer screen with a beautiful cloth and begin to quiet your mind.
Have a special journal or notebook to write down any worries or concerns from the day.
Self-love journal: I created a self-love journal for my daughter, a friend and a niece. I wrote questions throughout that would help them reflect on their day, their thoughts, their dreams, their personal ideas, etc. It is a fun gift to give for many occasions. Take the time to write questions they can answer. It will be a gift to themselves.
Breathe in and out. Write your worries. Rip the worries out of your notebook, crumble and burn or toss.
Light a candle and write down everything you accompished throughout your day–things you are grateful for, special highlights…the good things within your day.
You will end up with a beautiful notebook of good things within your life.
Say a prayer of thanks and blow out the candle to let go of the stress and sleep in bliss.
Well, that is all for today. I will continue with more ideas tomorrow.
Happy creating! Heather