Nurturing Family Rituals & Routines
There’s a lot we have to do everyday as adults and even more we have to do as parents. But that doesn’t mean that everything needs to feel like a chore. Family rituals help make everyday tasks in our routines more fun. They also help parents stay connected to their children, which benefits the entire household. You may still be able to recall special family rituals from your own childhood and what they meant to you.
If you’re feeling distance between you and your child, or everyone is spending more time in their rooms or stressed with work than with each other as a family, think about your daily routine in a new way: as possible moments of connection.
Why Connection Matters
During Any Baby Can’s parenting classes, we support parents in building skills and bonds that last a lifetime. This includes clear, practical tools that help ease tension in the home and build confidence in both parents and kids!
Throughout the first 2 years of our children’s lives, we’re working to build a trusting relationship and secure attachment with our children. Every time our child cries and we feed them, change them, or comfort them, they’re learning that we are someone they can trust and depend on. Kids also learn that they are worth being cared for.
As our children grow up and become more independent, it’s important that we find ways to maintain the trusting relationship that we worked so hard to establish. One way we can do that is by intentionally creating small, routine and meaningful moments of connection.
What Are Family Rituals?
Family rituals are special things you do as a family on a regular basis. They could be things that your parents or grandparents did that you want to pass on to your children: special recipes, annual celebrations, or ways to express affection. But family rituals don’t need to be big to be effective.
Often, it’s the small daily interactions that can improve your family’s dynamics the most. Maybe you already do some of these things, or maybe you can add a little fun to your day by creating a new family ritual!
Rituals can come in many different forms, with different levels of effort. Saying, “See you later, alligator!” whenever you drop off your child takes minimal effort, while a weekly family movie night or game night may take a little more. The important thing is to find something that feels special between parent and child, and that we remember to do it!
How to Start a New Family Ritual
Here are some ideas to choose from, but the thing that makes family rituals meaningful is that they are authentic, reflect your family’s values, and feel important for you and your child. Some rituals may seem silly but even older kids benefit from these moments of connection.
In the morning…
- Wake your children up with a special song or phrase (“Wakey wakey time” or “Good morning, my sleepyhead”).
- Give your kids a pep talks or say positive affirmations with them as you take them to school.
- Say goodbye in a meaningful way ("I love you to the stars and back.”).
- Ask your children about the best and worst parts (highs/lows, roses/thorns) of their day as you pick them up from school.
- Ask a “question of the day” as you sit down together for dinner, even if it’s just one night each week.
- Turn the music up and dance and sing as you do chores or wash dishes.
- Sing a clean-up song (“clean up, clean up, everybody, everywhere”).
- Prompt your kids to take a bath with a silly call or saying.
- Include a water bottle, an 8-second hug, and a tuck-in with a special stuffed animal to help a child feel comfortable and ready for bed.
- Say the same thing every night as you turn off your kids’ bedroom lights (“Sleep snug as a bug in a rug!").
- Make a secret handshake for when you greet them or say goodbye.
- Do a call-and-respond goodbye (“See you later alligator!”, “After a while crocodile!”) or goodnight (“Goodnight, sleep tight!”, “Don’t let the bedbugs bite!”)
- Visit your favorite drive through for a special treat as you drive home from a family visit.
Rituals for Families with Kids
Every family is unique, so the type, length and number of rituals will vary. Start by looking at your daily or weekly schedule and pick a moment that you can commit to making more special. Practice it until it become routine, then repeat with other moments.
Some families may have the luxury of sitting down for dinner together and checking in everyday, while other families may need to do a brief check-in while on the run between activities. Sometimes it takes a little creativity to find ways to stay connected to our children, but even little rituals throughout the day can have a huge payoff.
It’s important to keep in mind that any ritual that is unwanted or becomes a chore itself may need to be reconsidered. Also, rituals may change over time as children grow, and new rituals may be introduced.
Benefits for Children
Some rituals build a child’s self-esteem or make them feel special because it’s unique and shared between them and the parent. It can give them something to look forward to or give them personal power. Other rituals remind our children that we are invested in them, create feelings of trust, or make communication more open or comfortable.
When your child is going through a tough moment—starting school, family visits, chores—family rituals can help our children move through it with greater ease. In these moments, we instill positive values that will help them stay on a safe and healthy path in life.
Parents Benefit Too!
As parents, we put in the effort, but we also reap the rewards. We have a lot of daily stressors, and sometimes it can become overwhelming. When we make a conscious effort to be present and have fun with our children, we are hopefully able to shake off some of that stress (even if it’s for a just a moment) and be reminded of the joys of being a parent.
Making time daily to connect with our children builds their trust (yes, even just by having silly sayings or turning on music during chores). They’re more likely to come to us for help and guidance because they know they can depend on us for support, reassurance, or guidance. There are fewer surprises, and we’re able to address issues sooner, and we can also give our kids immediate praise and recognition for all the great things they are doing.
And of course, when we have fun moments to look forward to as a family, everyone is happier!
All parents need and receive support; our classes offer practical ideas to improve dynamics in your home.
Make praising a regular practice and it will become part of the routine.
There are many things that any parent can do to improve their relationship.