Traditions aren’t just elaborate holiday events. Intentional traditions happen every day in our families when we embrace the ordinary moments and focus on real family time.
I’ve been a Shutterfly user for over 10 years now. In one of the goodie bags I picked up at a Bridal convention when I was planning my wedding, there was a coupon for a free photo book.
I had never heard of them before but I was making a “scrapbook” of all our dating and engagement photos and thought it sounded like an easy way to do it for the non-scrapbook people like myself 🙂
Fast forward to present day and my Shutterfly account has close to 100 folders each labeled with the year and season, eg. 2011 Fall. I take our photos and instantly upload them to Shutterfly.
Now, this is not a post endorsing Shutterfly, although I do love them, but one thing they regularly do stopped me in my tracks last week.
Periodically they will send an email with the title… “Your Memories from (Insert a #) Years Ago”
When you open the email, you will be taken on a trip down memory lane.
In my case, it was a sad, sad reminder of how quickly time was passing. LOL 😉
My headline read, “Your Memories from Six Years Ago” and when I opened it up, I was flashed with all the adorable photos from my first child’s first fall, complete with a pumpkin bigger than he and a ‘lil Candy Corn onesie for his first Halloween costume.
And as if right on cue, the tears fell.
That little chubby, adorable, toothy-grinning 8-month-old in those photos is getting ready to turn 7 in a few months.
S E V E N
Seven is moving closer to ten and farther away from being a baby. (Your welcome for those amazing math skills) 😉
While these emails from Shutterfly are both bitter-sweet, they are are a periodic reminder that time is moving and despite the fact I’m mentally unprepared for it, my kids are growing up and getting older.
The time we spend together as a family now is so valuable.
We don’t get to go back to yesterday and live in the past, we have to keep moving forward, growing and changing along the way.
It’s for this very reason that creating intentional family traditions is all the more important.
As we head into the holidays, when we hear the word traditions we probably start to think about those traditions that naturally occur with each special day and event.
Our seasonally appropriate traditions include:
- Visiting the pumpkin patch
- Creating a gratitude tree
- Reading Christmas themed stories as we count down to Christmas
- Participating in Truth in the Tinsel as our family Advent devotional
- Attending the candlelight service on Christmas Eve
- Cinnamon rolls and a candy cane made out of strawberries/raspberries and bananas for breakfast
And many other fun traditions.
But intentional family traditions are not limited to just holidays and special days. They are woven into the daily rhythms, rituals, and anchors of our days.
Things we might not even think of as traditions are actually just that.
They are the things we would miss if we stopped doing them.
Family traditions don’t always have to be elaborate events, they can be simple occurrences such as family dinners, bedtime routines, before school prayers, daily reading time together, weekly trips to the park… they can be any number of things.
But one thing that is always constant is that intentional traditions focus on one key element:
Intentional Family Time
There are countless studies that affirm the lasting benefits of quality family time and the growth and development of our children.
Children who are apart of a strong family culture, where time is spent together and memories are formed, tend to do better academically, socially, and emotionally.
As children grow older, into their teens and adult years, they are more likely to continue turning to their parents and siblings for help and comfort because of that strong family bond that formed.
But let’s pause for a moment and discuss something crucial to remember…
Quality vs. Quantity
I think this is where most of us probably get stuck.
We fall into the trap of believing that we have to spend lots of time together to build that bond and created intentional family traditions but just as in all areas, quantity does not always mean quality.
For example, I am with my children most of the time. Just because I am with my kids all the time does not always mean I’m being intentional about spending time with them.
I have chores, I have meals to prep, I have work to do, my kids have work to do, they have school projects, and while we work side by side, it isn’t always what you would consider being quality time.
But I want to assure you that this is OK.
We have roles and responsibilities built into our days.
It’s not always about having fun together by going on field trips or having game nights.
Some of our best memories happen in the day-to-day mundane moments.
Embracing the Everyday Ordinary Moments
In thinking through your family’s day, what are the routines and rituals you do every day?
What do your mornings look like? Your afternoons? Your evenings? Your Weekends?
Would you believe me if I told you that many of the things you do every day are part of your family’s intentional traditions?
Changing our perspective about traditions and opening up our eyes to those wonderful moments that are happening every single day right in front of us is all about embracing those moments.
This is something I have been focusing on, and when I’ve been writing in my children’s memory journals, I’m including more of these day-t0-day everyday moments.