A new year presents a great opportunity to start a family tradition. January is the coldest and darkest month of the year, but is also the chance at a new beginning. Instead of letting the quiet of the post-holiday fill with mindless scrolling on electronics, take this opportunity to reconnect with your spouse and kids.
Family Tradition #1 – Start with making a Vision Board.
What do you want 2023 to look like? You can make one for each member of the family or a combined one for everyone. Use a poster board and add graphics or words from magazines or the Internet to display your goals. Your board might include vacation destinations, paint colors for a room makeover, a soccer ball graphic for spring tryouts, your extended family who are visiting or a new puppy. Some people even choose a word like growth, self-love or explore as the theme for their board.
#2 – Incorporate a family game night.
Some of our best family memories have been of us gathered around the table playing a game. Although game nights don’t need to be a marathon of Monopoly, you should choose a night with the least amount of activities. Take turns letting everyone pick a game – board games, cards, dice and tile games or even multiplayer video games. Don’t forget about games that include a night out like bowling, pickle ball or escape rooms.
Family tradition #3 – Start a family series.
Grab your pajamas and popcorn and gather one night a week to watch a TV series that is appropriate for your family. Don’t forget to consider documentaries like Pick of the Litter or movie series like Star Wars. YouTube offers bedtime stories like Pete the Cat and Peppa Pig. Podcasts give you an old-fashioned-listen-around-the-radio feel with series like Wow in the World or Storynory. Reading series like Harry Potter or Magic Tree House are also a fun family night that can be read aloud by the adults or the kids depending on their age.
#4 – Try a new recipe each week.
My family are big foodies and I attribute that to the fact that we encouraged the kids to try new recipes. It is so easy to make “kid food” for picky eaters, but if the kids are a part of the menu planning and meal prep, they might expand their tastes. Offer food flights using new ingredients to old favorites. Think pasta with three sauce options or sliders with three different chicken fillings like BBQ, Teriyaki or Honey Mustard. Make a game of it with score sheets and suggestions for next time.
Family Tradition #5 – Set aside time for a Parent/Child Date Night.
This is a one on one evening or day time event where each child gets to spend time alone with one parent. It is the perfect time to share common interests as well as catch up on what is going on in each other’s lives. Consider trying new restaurants for adventurous eaters, hitting a bucket of balls, getting your nails done, hiking or bike riding or tackling a project together like building or crafts.
#6 – Volunteering together is a win-win situation.
You can spend quality time together and help someone in need. In addition, you are instilling the importance of lifelong volunteerism in your children. Check out volunteer opportunities in your community including animal shelters, play games with residents at an assisted living facility, set up a community garden and donate the food or sponsor food, toys and clothing drives for local charities. If you need help finding opportunities in your community, check out VolunteerMatch.org.
Family Tradition #7 – Start a gratitude jar.
Several years ago, my son made a blessings jar at church during the holidays. It included all the things that he felt were blessings – family, video games, our pets, etc. After the new year, I emptied the jar out and started to fill it with events and moments our family had during the year – crazy hair day at school, a winning goal and a new family car. On New Year’s Day the following year, we all took turns reading the folded papers I added that year. It was so nice to relive those memories and it has been a great tradition for our family.
#8 – Celebrate your family culture.
For many of us, family culture is a lost art. We don’t know the language, foods, dances or days of celebration because somewhere along the line, they stopped sharing. Reach out to older family members and ask about things they did in their childhood or research your family history to find out what nationality you are with DNA tests like Ancestry.com. Practice some of the traditions from your cultures including listening to traditional music or learning some key phrases. Try to incorporate it into your daily life to let those traditions live on.