The awesome power of tiny family traditions


Most of the time it feels like our little family of three — my kiddo, my husband and me — is living inside a tornado. Our days and weeks feel like a whirlwind of work, school, activities, dinners, breakfasts, and events, and often it feels like a race that leaves us winded and exhausted.

I’d love for us to have more time to chill out and catch our collective breath, but since that’s not always possible what I try to do instead is to come up with tiny traditions that can anchor and stabilize our crazy busy days. They’re nothing fancy or complicated — just simple tricks to turn regular moments into memorable ones. Doing this makes the ordinary just a little more extraordinary, and ensures that our daily race to the finish line always has a few meaningful pauses in it.

Here’s a few of my favorites:

“Civilized mornings”
When my husband travels, my daughter and I have “civilized mornings.” We put on classical music, make a nice breakfast, drink some tea, and sometimes even speak with a British accent. It’s our little girls’ tradition and it makes a hectic morning a bit more, well, civilized.

Gratitude lunchbox notes
Every morning I write a little note and put it in my daughter’s lunchbox. I take a few seconds to think of something to thank her for or to tell her whatever it is that I’m looking forward to us doing that weekend. It’s my little gratitude ritual every morning and I know it’s something she looks forward to at school.

Friday family movie night
By the time we all get home on Friday night we’re exhausted, so cooking is out of the question. We get takeout and have a picnic while we watch a movie in the living room. It’s like a big collective family exhale.

Random dinner Sundays
On Sunday nights I cook up a storm for the coming week — I make and prep dinner for four days ahead. So for dinner that night we have our very official “random dinner.” Sometimes it’s leftovers. Sometimes it’s breakfast for dinner. Sometimes it’s really just a collection of random stuff we find in our fridge. It’s low-key and relaxed and it lets us finish out the weekend on a spontaneous note.

Do you have a tiny family tradition you love? Share it in the comments for inspiration!

5 thoughts on “The awesome power of tiny family traditions

  1. wonderful wonderful ideas – i always used to leave notes in the lunchbox for my son…he so loved it – now at 22 I am lucky to see him once a week…things change so quickly. now we share shows that we are interested in to see what the other thinks. I love the talking with the British accent!!

  2. Thanks for sharing your wonderful ideas. Here is one of ours. On most Friday evenings we have family crepe night tradition! Sweet or savory and sometimes both! Delicious! 😋

  3. I have sent my children out into the world now, but I find these same kinds of little rituals have great power even now. I still say, “Hello, hello!” in a nice, loud voice whenever I walk into my house, even when I am alone and I know the house is empty. It makes me feel good to be connected with the millions of times my family used that greeting as we arrived home (even when it was returning from a bad doctor’s visit or a nasty encounter with an ex, pushing out the expected homecoming greeting helped). Breakfast in bed once in a while makes Saturday feel more like a true holiday, and I have the extra bonus of knowing my children do it now and then, too. Even laundry is not as much of a chore to do on my know because I can whistle that silly song that called everybody to pitch in for all those years. Doing these things is going to matter, not just for your kids as you give them a good upbringing, but for YOU, as you live happily every after.

  4. Every night for supper, we all sit together at the table and eat dinner together. No phones, iPads, …anything electronic… And that way we can talk about our day or anything we want. Just eating together as a family. This may be our only time we are all in the same room at the same time as a family. I started this when my husband and I got married and now have two kids. Even when we go out to eat , same thing, everything is put away for conversation.

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