Kas Winters

Create Your Own Family Traditions

 Create Your Own Family Traditions to Give Children “Roots”
by Kas Winters, Mother of Family Ideas™

Kas Winters

Mother of Family Ideas




Most of the time “Family Traditions” just happen. They aren’t usually planned. Often we just repeat activities from our own families of origin, and that can be a very positive thing. We can also give deliberate thought to establishing some especially for our children and grandchildren. I was reminded of this recently when my daughter phoned to ask about words to a song we always sang in the car when she was a child. Her children were singing it and had a question about the lyrics. That call affirmed that those little things we did with our children made a difference. “In our family we always _____.” Fill in the blank. Hopefully, you will have traditions that make memories and help children feel like they belong.

Many times we relate these to holiday celebrations. Your list might include special dinner menus, decorations, games, activities, gift exchanges, and much more. All of these are wonderful for assuring children that they are part of a family that cares about them.

There are also things we do everyday to affirm our love to kids. Most are small actions that take little time or energy but leave positive memories. I’m continually surprised at those I see in the next generation of children in our family. The following are just a few ways in which you might create your own mini-traditions.

Music can bring people together or separate them. When children are young, singing while traveling in the car is a great way to make time pass more quickly, to build relationships and memories, and to learn songs to share with others. We started out with silly songs, nursery rhyme songs and ones with repetitive words and basic tunes that were easy for kids. (I’ll admit to sneaking lullabies in occasionally to help them nap on longer trips. One of those my grandmother sang to me and now my grandchildren know it too.) As our children grew, songs became more creative. We made up our own silly verses, sang in rounds and added harmony and other parts. Quality of voices doesn’t matter and getting all the words right isn’t important either. It’s fun. (Dad says we are the “Know-some-of-the-words-some-of-the-time singers.”) It’s interaction and time spent together. In our family, we still sing in the car, but as “empty nesters” my husband and I sing to one another, in harmony, and enjoy every minute of it. Of course, when grandkids are present, the silly songs are back in force and we make memories with them too.

Say “I love you.” Even this can be a tradition. We say it often. Sometimes we scream it out loud as a kid runs down the hall. It gets said when family members arrive, when they leave, in letters, cards, e-mails, texts and even on Facebook. Over the years countless love notes have been left in every place possible for others to find. Kids like doing it because there is a “sneaky” aspect and they love watching someone find their surprises. Notes go in lunches, stuck to favorite treats in the fridge or pantry, on pillows, tucked in with folded laundry, written in the “fog” on the bathroom mirror, and left out in the open where they are easy to find. Years ago we read a story about leaving notes that said S.H.M.I. L.Y (“See How Much I Love You.”) and it caught on like wildfire. I’m still finding SHMILY notes left by a grandchild when she was here a week ago. In our family, we . . .  say “I love you” often and you can too.

Storytelling is another thing we do in our family. Reading together was always important when children were young. Books were always available and time together was enjoyed. Bedtime reading was popular and tents (indoors or out) were great reading locations. We told stories about our own childhood and family memories, made up funny stories and did “pass-around” tales where each person had the opportunity to add the next part of the story. Sometimes we would add our own sound effects to stories or play music in the background to create a mood. Adventures were enhanced in the dark or around a campfire with a flashlight shining up on our faces from our chins to make us look spooky. Homemade costumes and puppets were used and kids even made stages using furniture, blankets and cardboard to bring fables to life. Some narratives were even  put in writing and illustrated—just for fun.

Those are just a few of countless family traditions that make a positive difference in how a child perceives himself or herself. None of them are expensive, time consuming or difficult. Think about yours and decide to add a couple of new traditions just because they will make everyone feel loved.

For more July family activity suggestions go to: http://www.winmarkcom.com/julyholidays.htm For thousands of family activity ideas, check out my book, Motherlode: The Ultimate Collection of Ideas for Keeping Kids Busy, at: http://www.winmarkcom.com/motherlode.htm.

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