When we wake each day, the kids come over for their morning hugs, kisses, and “I love you”s. It’s a great start to the day, no matter which side of the bed anyone has woken up on.
At night, the bath and bedtime ritual is just as sacred. The kids know what to expect and will not settle down to sleep until every step is complete. The good thing is, they’re so attuned to this ritual that getting them to bed anywhere – especially while on holidays abroad – is a breeze!
This is just one way in which having a family ritual or tradition can help make life easier for us parents, and give the kids a sense of comfort and security. These rituals also celebrate our family life together, and help us bond.
But meaningful family rituals don’t have to be elaborate, or require a lot of planning. In fact, some of the simpliest ones impart feelings of warmth and belonging in short and sweet ways that any child, no matter how young, can participate in.
Here are some that we enjoy as a family.
1. Free Fun Fridays
Practically every school-going child in Singapore is a busy bee, with enrichment classes, CCAs and other activities taking place almost every day of the week. We reserve Fridays for family fun, and try to keep costs down by finding free ways to have a great time. Think discovery walks in nature reserves and wetlands, picnics and paper plane-flying in parks, free local attractions (like the Air Force Museum and Marina Barrage), or simply exploring the neighbourhood on foot.
2. Sunday Lunch
Sundays are family days for most and yes, that family lunch can be considered a ritual too, if it is special to all who are involved. For us, it is a ritual that evolved unconsciously. Grandpa used to brew and bring soup over after the birth of each child. He offered to do so every week and now grandpa’s Sunday soup is eagerly anticipated each week. As my five-year-old solemnly reminded her younger brother one Saturday evening, “ It’s Sunday tomorrow. Grandpa will comer over for lunch and he will be bringing his amazingly delicious soup, yummy!”
3. Values At Bedtime
Which values are important to you? Which do you want to pass on to your children? How can you teach them to live these values? You can create a family ritual to emphasise a particular value each month, teach them by telling them your life stories (or their grandparents’), model the value by walking the talk, and so on. We incorporate our value teaching into our bedtime ritual, asking the kids to share positive thoughts about each other, and reinforcing the behaviour by talking about it.
4. Family Photo Wall
One entire wall in at home is covered with pictures of the family, taken at the same time, and in the same place, each year. It’s a great way to take in how everyone has grown and developed through the years, and laugh at dubious hairstyles and clothing options.
Creating a family ritual is easy. Just think of something that you enjoy doing together, build on it, endow it with meaning, and perform it regularly. Establish a daily one, a weekly one, a monthly one, and an annual one. Here are some that we are looking forward to starting soon:
• Keeping a thankful journal
• Having a family game session
• Celebrating a kids’ day
• Hosting a neighbourhood party
• Creating a family time capsule
Now, it’s your turn to share! What are your favourite family rituals?