Four Steps to Creating Family Rituals and Increasing the Laughter in Your Family

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When I surveyed hundreds of moms about what really matters in good mothering, family rituals and traditions always came up at the top of their lists. Why? Because they don't have to take much time or money, and they create joy and laughter in the family and wonderful memories that last a lifetime. Here are the steps to begin.

Step One: Begin by Making a List of New Traditions You'd Like to Start in Your Home. Let your brain go wild and allow your only rule to be "anything goes" at this stage. The wilder the idea the better. You might want to ask other moms and your kids for ideas. Also think back on your own family traditions when you were growing up and include any you're fond of. You might also refer to the ideas in the previous box to help jumpstart your brain.

Step Two: Now Choose One Idea You Want to Begin With. It's best to begin with the simplest idea. One mom said she got into the habit of always putting on her makeup with her four-year-old daughter next to her. Another mom makes a tradition of taking her son out for hot cocoa after school every Wednesday. It really doesn't matter what the ritual is, as long as it's one your family enjoys doing together.

Step Three: Write Down the Tradition-Ink It. Put it in your Palm Pilot or include it on your weekly calendar. Tell your family. Saying and writing it add commitment. (You'll also have someone to remind you to do it.) Also, think through exactly what you need (if anything) to make the tradition work. Set a starting date. When is the first time you'll begin using it? Research has shown that the sooner you begin (suggestion: within twenty-four hours), the greater the likelihood that you'll stick to it.

Step Four: Plan It, Do It! Celebrate success. And keep at it. You're on the road to creating family memories. Please remember: the family tradition you create isn't something you take away from your child because he broke one of your family rules or didn't finish his weekly chore. Don't use withholding the tradition as a punishment: "If you don't behave, you're not going to be able to do Family Game Night with us." Traditions are sacred and must be consistently honored, whether it is every night, week, or month, or once a year. This is the stuff that is meant to bond your family and make you closer.


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