Move Over Family Game Night
Are you feeling like your family traditions are lame? Do you look on Pinterest and Facebook and wonder how the hell these women have the time to do all these artsy-craftsy events with their families? Give me five minutes and I can help you start some great and easy traditions that’ll make you feel like you’re #winning all month. Read on sister.
First, I confess I’ve totally failed at the kids’ merit systems/behavior modifications/goal charts/reward charts/ whatever the new one is that’s up on Pinterest thing.
I have the best of intentions when I implement these. However, two weeks in, there are no stars on my three kids’ chart, zero/zilch/nada gold coins have been doled out, and the rewards sheet signature section is MIA. I just suck at these.
I was feeling terrible that we couldn’t nail down a steady, open Wednesday to sit down with a cup of cocoa for “weekly game night.” There was that time I tried to start a weekly family bible study. After screeching at everyone to put their i-things down (screeching is lovely way to get your kids interested in the Good Word, right?), I started reading from one of the kid’s devotionals. Soon everyone’s eyes were darting around the room, and the neighbor’s kid started knocking non-stop at the door, staring us down through the front windows silently beseeching for a playdate. I ended my mom-sermon with defeat. Two more tries resulted in more failure and less enthusiasm for bible studies. Giving us props for attending church weekly, I quit before my troops aborted the religious mission completely.
What I have figured out, is how to create fun family traditions that feel organic to our unit of five and that my kids actually look forward to. That’s what we do as moms, right? We bomb one thing, but then totally master something else and life is good again. It occurred to me, after trial and error, that it is the little things we did together and enjoyed, that became little habits, which have evolved into traditions. Voila!
Here’s an example.
A few years ago, my hubby and I built a house that has a really terrific front porch. I remember as a kid loving to sit on my Nana & Pop’s porch, and I wanted the same experience in my own home. One night there was this really crazy Texas thunderstorm – lots of awesome cracking lightning and bold rolling thunder, just like a Garth Brooks song. One of my kids was terrified of storms and would hide behind the couch. Something in me wanted to take that kiddo out to the porch so they could watch it while safely cuddled in my lap. I felt like if they could see it, from a snuggly place on a warm, softly backlit porch, then maybe those loud cracks and booms would seem less terrifying. Sure enough it worked, and the whole family was drawn out to the porch and enjoyed a front row seat for the storm. The moment was so sweet that whenever it’s pouring rain--and we are all at home – we often migrate to the porch to watch it together for a few minutes. Read that? A FEW MINUTES = TRADITION. When we drop those other impossibly high expectations of ourselves, we can start making little micro traditions that come naturally, but mean just as much.
Two of my kids wake easily in the mornings. The other one has the sleep cycle of a college student. Waking up is super hard for her and she’s often grumpy, stressed or plain bummed to be awake early for school. So one morning I asked Alexa to pump out “How Sweet It Is” by James Taylor. How can you not perk up after hearing James Taylor croon to you? It seemed to brighten her spirit and the others’ too. So I started asking Alexa as soon as the kids wake up to play it. And my friends, another tradition was born.
I know it’s probably time for you to stop reading your iPhone and scooch forward in carpool line, or get back to work or turn off the light and grab some needed sleep. So I’ll end this week’s blog with a few ideas to help you get started on starting your own micro traditions. Happy creating, sweet friends! I’d love to hear how it’s going. If you have some good ones that work for you and your family, let us know!
- Ask a question around the dinner table or play the old school game “telephone.” We made up a Christmas “heads up” by printing Christmas words on notecards. We played with my 90+-year old Nana and she and my 6-year-old were cracking each other up. Best memories from that Christmas.
- Play cards for 10 minutes before or after dinner. Uno is a good one if you forgot how to play cards like me.
- Name inanimate objects in your house- we name our Christmas tree, our vacuum cleaner, a porcelain turkey. Each kid makes one part of the name. Ex: our tree this year is named Chippy Sparkle Puff. Ho!
- Build an annual family Christmas gingerbread house. Recycle your Halloween candy on your house. Excess candy will be used. You’re welcome.
- Go Christmas caroling together. You’d be amazed how many neighbors will want to do this with you. Your teens may sulk, but then they love ringing the doorbells and seeing peoples’ faces light up as we start warbling.
- Watch the same fave Christmas movies every year together. If my kids get their homework and showers done early in the month December, we gather on the couch for a post-dinner holiday movie.
- Start volunteering together one day during the Christmas season. A couple years ago, we started helping the local sheriffs dept take a child from a low-income family shopping for the holidays at Walmart. Seeing my 11-year-old helping his assigned child find a cool bike, and then showing him how to ride it, was the best memory of Christmastime for me and my husband.
Cheers friends and don’t miss our pop ups this month!
Monday 12/10 From 10-3PM
Tuesday Dec 11th 11-3
3243 Bryn Mawr Drive, Dallas