I have been thinking about families and how the last year has changed the way many families spend time together. While the last year has presented many challenges, there has also been great opportunity to lead a slower-paced lifestyle for both children and adults.
Thoughts have focused on how we generate strong relationships, create positive energy, and seek harmony within our families.
Do we play games, or have quiet/reading time? Are we expressing gratitude around the dinner table each night or have bedtime rituals? Can we utilize outdoor activities and the healing power of nature to achieve family goals, or is it a mixture of all of the above? I wonder if it is related to what we do but also possibly how we react to what we do together?
In this blog post, we will explore the importance of family rituals, how you can generate positive energy in your family, and how to keep your kids involved in recognizing and appreciating the magic of family life.
The Importance of Family Rituals
Family rituals, or things that you do repeatedly as a family, are an important part of a child’s life. These rituals can be daily tasks like setting the table for dinner or a weekly chore like putting clean laundry away. It can consist of fun, relaxing time together like taking a nightly walk, or Friday night pizza and movie night. These rituals can be linked to annual events like celebrating holidays in a certain way or taking a road trip to the same destination year after year for vacation.
According to the American Psychological Association, family rituals “are associated with marital satisfaction, adolescents’ sense of personal identity, children’s health, academic achievement and stronger family relationships.” Family rituals help children feel more secure in a world that they do not control. These family rituals generate a source of normalcy as they experience new things. As children go out into the world and meet new people and try new activities, they know that these rituals like sitting down to dinner or going through their bedtime routine are consistent and reliable.
As your children grow up, these family rituals turn into childhood memories. Some of these family rituals may become the rituals that they follow if they have their own family.
Often family rituals are passed down to the next generation and become long-standing family traditions. A personal family ritual was my mother’s love of baking and making heaping plates of Christmas cookies to share with family and friends.
Generating Positive Energy as a Family
While family rituals create stability and factor into our childhood memories, generating positive energy as a family really depends on how you respond to the events of your life. Think about the stories that you tell over and over in your life. Are they the result of perfectly planned events that went off exactly as expected? Are they stories of the unexpected things that came out of nowhere, including things that seemed bad at the time?
Think about the movie A Christmas Story. The author experienced years of perfectly cooked Christmas turkeys as a child, but the one that made it into the movie was the one where the neighbor’s dogs stole and devoured the bird and the family ended up at the local Chinese restaurant. And the family’s attitude while preparing to enjoy their Christmas duck with the head still attached? Pure, unfiltered laughter, joy, and bonding.
Adults have an opportunity to help their children become resilient and to create positive energy within the family by casting a positive light on things that happen. Of course, tragedies happen and there are circumstances where you cannot always be positive. There are also ways to reframe what might be negative and reframe it into a positive. We have seen a lot of this in the last calendar year.
Spring break trips, after-school activities, and school itself, which were all shut down with little warning. There was the potential to really go into a negative place emotionally. But instead, we have seen families rally and embrace the positive aspects of having extra time together. Of having a slower-paced lifestyle. Laughing and remaining positive have surfaced instead of letting this peculiar time in our lives get us and keep us down. Having fun in simple ways has emerged instead of dwelling on what we have not been able to do this year.
Family Project: Creating a Daily Family Journal
Creating a daily family journal is an activity with many benefits. A journal can help both kids and adults remember both the family rituals and traditions as well as the one-off experiences and adventures that you have together. Taking note of the good things that have happened on any regular day can help maintain positive energy. A family journal can teach kids about appreciation and gratitude for things ranging from having a comfortable bed and fresh water to getting a new pet or going on a vacation. Creating a family journal can also help spark your children’s creativity. Kids of all ages can participate in creating a family journal.
The journal can include both written entries and visual artwork like drawings, doodles, or images cut from magazines. You can work together on the daily entries with each person in the family adding something notable that went well during their day. Working together to create journal entries works well in strengthening communication and talking about feelings and emotions. By expressing emotions about everyday things that might not otherwise have been noticed can help build your child’s confidence in sharing how they feel. By talking about their day with other people in their family, they can develop listening skills and appreciate an alternate point of view. You can also set goals as a family or make a list of things that you want to do together. There are no limits to how you create your family journal. It is all about taking note of the time that you spend together and the feelings you felt and appreciating the bond that you are creating as a family.
Here is a link to a pdf journal giveaway you might use for a family journaling activity. Enjoy!
Check out some of the options in Grandma’s Magic Pillows too!