A time for family rituals II

What gifts will you give that will make your family come together…rituals & traditions.

Yesterday I began with some family rituals and ideas to help connect your family on a daily, weekly, special occasion basis. I am following up today with some additional ideas to help bring everyone together. 

Alone time:

You can always set aside some personal time and journal, light a candle and listen to beautiful music, go on a walk all alone, etc. Society often makes us feel that it is not normal to want to have some alone time, but being alone is good for the soul. It helps you take the time to revitalize the body and connect with your spirit. Quiet time is quality time.

Bath:

At any point in your day you can stop, light some candles, add bubbles or bath salts, quiet your mind and float in a warm bath. Relax. play pretty music and enjoy the candlelight. When done…blow out the candles and say Thank you.  This is so wonderful for your children as well–helps them learn to appreciate self care.

My daughter did not enjoy bathing or showering, so I decided to make it a special occasion. I light a candle and tell her to relax and enjoy her time in the water. It definitely helps & she is always feeling better when she is done.

Birthdays:

Birthday book: have a photo of the child/adult on the front of the album—inside have everyone–friends, guests, relatives, children write something special within the album (they could bring a photo to add to the album, a poem, quote, memory, etc)

Every year I make a special book for my daughter with pictures from the whole year. I write a special letter inside and make it special. I also try to make a DVD of special videos from the year. It makes a fun gift!

Half birthdays: Some families may find joy in creating a half birthday–some because a child’s birthday is during the summer and can’t celebrate it during the school year or many just want a party every six months. ideas: The child selects ONE present of their choice and they get to go out to a family dinner of their choice. You could also honor them with a half birthday cake or royal treatment for half the day.

Siblings: have siblings create a special card for the birthday. Dollar store gift item that represents sibling.

Birthday letter: Each year write a personal letter to the birthday recipient. You could include special letters from mom, dad, grandparents, siblings, etc. Give the book of letters to them on their 18th birthday.

Story of the child’s birth: Type it up and share it with your child every birthday.

Little fun ideas: fill their room with two dozen balloons while they sleep, so this is the first thing they see. Have a special thing you add to their cake—Little doll each year, specialty gift, piece of jewelry in cake…

Yearly Picture: Have a special article of clothing, a blanket, a special spot (on grandma’s swing, childhood chair) and take a picture each year in the same place, shirt, blanket, etc.

Include: Favorite birthday breakfast, surprise decorations, no chores or responsibilities for the day, do something they have always wanted to do, special dessert, dinner, etc.

Special School Lunch: check the child out of school on their birthday for a special birthday lunch.

Other cultural birthday ideas: In Mexico Pinatas are always fun for any festivity, in Argentina children get pulls on their earlobes for their birthday, in the middle east there is a special chair decorated with flowers and fun & the child is then lifting and raising it once for each year of life – plus one more for good luck!

Coming of Age: Many other cultures have ways to celebrate womanhood or manhood…here are a few ideas. Quinceañera is a celebration within the latin culture—it is a special party when a young woman is 15. It could have a theme, but a sweet sentiment is the passing of flat shoes to heels.

Or a special daddy/daughter dance OR Mother/son

Changing from child to adult comes with responsibility…you may want to have a special dinner and have a special handing over of more responsibility, a savings account, additional chores (laundry)etc.

Teaching and educating them through this transition is key…helping them make good decisions about their free time, friendships, and personal values. This is when they begin to leave the nest.

Special ritual: have friends and family sit in a circle (represents the flow of life, the never-ending circle of growth)–Have the mother and child hold hands (or joined with a ribbon) enter the circle and the mother says something like this.. “I brought you into this world and our spirits will be forever joined. However, up until this time, I have led you through life and you have listened to everything I said. If you are ready, then today our relationship changes, and I offer my guidance and ever lasting love, but know that you have started down your own path, and may not always listen. I do hope that our new relationship is one of trust, honesty and warmth. You can cut away our old relationship today, but I will always be here for you.”–break the hand holding chain to a loving hug or cut the ribbon as a symbol of change followed by a loving hug.

This might be a nice time for the song to be played or sang, or a prayer said, then the leader can invite everyone to come forward, take a flower from a vase and give it to the teen (who you have seated by now), and tell them what they wish for their future and adulthood.

Adoption:

I like this idea for Foster Kids as well.

Special Ritual: Invite friends and family (if you want). sit in a family circle. Light a pink candle to symbolize the groups love for the child. Begin by thanking the child for coming into this family. Go around the circle (starting with the parents) and have everyone talk about how important it is to have this child in the family and the community. Add feelings (change, worth, new beginnings, etc). Have everyone share something about themself to allow connection and have the new child share (if they want) something about them and their likes…

Appreciation Box: (for parents or child) Have a special box or basket on a specific day “Parents Day” or “Gotcha Day”—-the day a child arrives or a specific day of the year–celebrate with gifts of appreciation and love. The box or basket is placed outside the recipients door and everyone places gifts of love (put cookies, drawings, a letter, object of love, etc) into the box or basket throughout the day. A little twist: you could place the box outside the door in the early morning & everyone has to fill it before breakfast, then the recipient brings the basket into their room to look through & this clues everyone else to bring in breakfast in bed.

 
Dealing with Anger:

Anger Sticks, drum: (make them at family night)

When anger comes–encourage the feelings to be released–pound a pillow, cry, shout (not at others), beat the drum or stick…eventually the anger will fade. Then write down a list of what made your child, your spouse angry. Then together burn the list and release the anger.

Anger corner: Have an anger corner within your home with lots of pillows

Anger actions: Have your child do a special action when they are angry—Volcano, count to 10, etc. This worked really well when my daughter was a toddler and couldn’t express herself very well. I would have her shoot her arms into the air like a volcano and change her pattern of anger. It was great to see her switch from anger and focus on releasing it with her little actions.

Express through drawings: have your child draw or write a story about a person who gets mad and what makes them angry—this will help you understand what is upsetting your child.

Healing a fight:

Have a safe place in the home (fireplace mantel, specific shelf, a room, etc)

Make peace doves as a family–1 per person (paper, clay, magazine cut-out, ornament, etc) & put name on it.

After a fight or argument each person (on their own time) goes to the safe place and writes a letter or tape records their feelings–I feel angry because….. NOT “you’re mean. I hate you”

Then each person will turn their dove with their name facing out to symbolize that they wish to make peace (or you could have a small help sign next to the dove–to symbolize wanting to make peace)

The other person(s) involved can come and read the letter or listen to the recording and write their own.

They turn their dove over–which is a symbol that both with to make peace.

They make a time to talk and to make peace. Forgive and hug.

“Contemporary American families are entropic, meaning they drift toward falling apart,” says William Doherty, head of the Marriage and Family Therapy program at the University of Minnesota. “Rituals combat that entropy and help hold families together. Whenever you do a ritual, you are saying `No’ to other activities or people, and becoming what I call an intentional family. Most of us just drift into habits, doing what is most convenient. But ritualizing means to take a hold of activities and ask: does this meet the needs of our family? If it’s something like sitting in front of a TV night after night for dinner, then the answer is `No.’”

 
First Times:

First day of school, first time driving, first job, new school, first sleep over, first speech….

Power Shirt: create a special power shirt that says “courage” or “confidence”–can be worn under clothes.

First day of school: give the ‘courage’ shirt with a stuffed lion and tell your little one “this shirt will help you feel courage and protect you”

New job: the ‘confidence” shirt will give power and confidence

New School Year: end of summer (or new year) light sparklers together as a family and do a special cheer to new friends, new school year—remind them of the special light  within…shine on and be a light to all those they meet.

Have a special family blessing to bless each child as they enter their new year of school. You can have a special blessing chair or give them a special token of best wishes for their first day.

Sweet 16: Special dinner date with Dad/Mom(parents). Give a special piece of jewelry to symbolize letting go of childhood and growing toward becoming a adult.

Decorate their car with cans, signs, balloons in congrats to getting a license.

Cheers to you: Any successes, good grades, making the team, new job. Have a special dinner in honor of the accomplishment. GO around the table and have each person give a cheer of something positive, complimentary, nice about the person, the event, the achievement. Cheers to you!!

Family Tapestry/Project: Create a family tapestry, mosaic table, stone wall (each fabric tile, stone, piece of glass) represents a milestone in the family and is decorated and added to the family project.

 

Well, that is all I am going to leave you with today. I will continue with the family ritual ideas tomorrow. I will include great holiday ideas to share, so make sure you read my part III.

fyi: many of the ideas I share in the family rituals are taken from a variety of places like Barbara Bizou, Real Simple, Family Fun…I just hope a collection of these ideas will get you creating rituals and traditions with your family.

Happy day. Heather

 

A time for family rituals

The very word RITUAL is derived from an Indo-Eurpoean root, means “to fit together”

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

 
November and December are big months for bringing family together, so I am going to take a few days to share some ideas to bring rituals into your family life.
Take some time to create rituals as a family.

EVERYDAY RITUALS

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!

Mealtime Blessings:

“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.

Family Unity:

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

Bedtime:

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

Goodnight prayer.

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

 

 

Gratitude Challenge

My first post is about gratitude. I know everyone is talking about gratitude, but I am not sure anyone is actually taking it to heart. So, I am going to put a challenge out there to anyone who would like to join.

THE GRATITUDE CHALLENGE…

November is the month of giving thanks and we often neglect to take the time between the hustle of the holidays to give thanks. I would like to invite you to take a gratitude challenge through the month of November.

Keep a journal or notebook by your bed and each evening before you go to sleep write down 3-5 things you are grateful for. That is it!!

This is also a wonderful exercise for kids. Gather your family around your bed and ask each person what they are grateful for & keep a family gratitude journal.

It is a small thing that will make a big difference. You will feel more connected, grateful, loving, happy and truly be in the spirit of giving thanks during the season of Thanksgiving.

Here are some ideas to get you thinking…grateful for my healthy family, my breath, that I can walk and run, have food readily available at a grocery store, warm home, warm showers, clean drinking water, fingers that can write, to be able to go to school, parents, to be able to see and hear, for friendships, for pets, books to read, inspired people, hugs, someone to love, favorite foods, music, freedoms, sunsets, stars, the sun, to be creative, to have a talent, nature, religion, to make my own choices, the gift of life, etc.

Happy gratitude!
Please do the 30 day challenge and let me know how it goes. I would love to hear your comments. Let me know if you felt more happy, connected, thankful.
Have a beautiful Thanksgiving.