Family Rituals – the familiarities that comfort and the ties that bind

What is your family’s special ritual?  You probably have many, some may be so ingrained in your daily routines that you don’t even realise you do them.  At our house, we have an “arriving home” ritual.  When we arrive home together, I say “Home again, home again” and my children respond with “jiggity-jig!”.  When my husband is with us, he likes to chime in with “like a fat pig!”.

It is a bit silly but it always elicits a smile or a laugh and I have been doing it since the children were very small (even before they could talk – yes, I was one of those mums who constantly prattled to her babies!) .

There is something comforting about announcing our arrival as we pull in to the driveway after a day at school or a trip away.  It has become one of our family’s rituals.  When we moved house last year, it was the familiarity of these little rituals and routines that helped us to feel comfortable in our new surroundings.  For us, the “home again” ritual is almost an affirmation – I’m here, you’re here, we’re home, everything is good!”

Author Meg Cox describes a ritual as “…a routine with sprinkles and extra sauce.” Rituals play a very important role in our everyday lives – helping to anchor children emotionally and making life smoother and more predictable.

Routines give children a feeling of empowerment because they let children know what to expect next.  “They ease children’s natural feelings of vulnerability by giving order to their world.  They help children manage impulsive behaviour by assuring them of what they are supposed to do next.  The repetitious aspect of routines also helps children develop the habit of self-discipline that they need to become self-reliant”*

Creating Rituals and Routines

Creating routines in your day is very easy – most people do it without realising they are.  When you find something you enjoy together, make it your tradition.  It can be as simple as reading a book together each night or making pancakes on Sunday mornings.  Here are some ideas to get you started –

♪        Create your own bath-time or bedtime song (make up your own words to a familiar tune)

♪        Have a familiar bedtime or morning routine that you follow every day

♪        Choose a time on the weekend that is set aside for family time together – whether it is gardening, visiting a favourite park, going for a bike ride or exploring a part of your town/city that you may not have seen before, make it your time together

♪        Special weekend meal – Sunday roast, cooked breakfast

♪        Summer BBQ – welcome summer each year with your own family celebration

When you interact with your children through consistent routines and specific rituals you are sending them a message of unconditional love and acceptance.  These routines and rituals “create time to be playful, to explore the meaning of our lives, and to rework and rebuild relationships.” **

So enjoy these small everyday moments together.  They are something to treasure and nurture and will become part of who you are as a family.

* (Ages & Stages, by Dr Charles E Schaefer and Teresa Foy DiGeronimo, p.140) ** (I Love You Rituals by Beck Bailey, p.14)

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