I love family traditions. I grew up with several traditions that I still remember fondly. It is so important to make those memories with your family. There’s nothing like having something to look forward to, even if it is something simple.
To me, having special memories with my husband and children mean more than anything that money could possible buy. Traditions do not have to cost money. There are fun things that your family can do for free that are just as meaningful as things that cost hundreds of dollars. Whatever you choose, make your traditions meaningful and special. Your children will remember those traditions for years to come, and hopefully start those same traditions with their own families some day.
I have shared some of my favorite Christmas traditions, but our family has several traditions that we partake in on a regular basis. Some of those include:
- Homemade pizza on Saturday night. This has become a weekly tradition in our home recently. Each Saturday, I prepare a homemade pizza and salad bar for dinner. Although it sounds like a lot of work, it really isn’t. What I do is take my pizza dough recipe and prepare it in my bread machine. This saves me so much time. I just throw all of the ingredients and set my bread machine on the dough cycle. It does all my mixing and kneading for me. I love it. If you haven’t purchased a bread machine yet, I highly recommend you do so. It will change your life.
- Waffles made by Dad on the weekend. Depending on what we are doing on the weekend, my husband will almost always make waffles for all of us on the weekend. It is usually on Saturdays. He bought me a Belgian waffle maker a few years ago for mother’s day, but I really think he bought it for himself. He uses it way more than I do. Which is fine by me! The kids love it when Dad makes breakfast.
- Special outings for a good report card. Right now, we only have one child in school, but we include everyone. Whenever he brings home a good report card or test scores, we make a point to take him out for a special reward. Sometimes it is a trip to Chuck E. Cheese. Sometimes we go out for ice cream. If it is a beautiful day, we will pack a picnic and go to the park that we don’t get to often because it is quite a distance from our house. Kids look forward to these rewards, and I really think it encourages them to do their best.
- Weekend movie nights. Our children are still pretty young, so movie nights are sometimes a bit hairy. Their little attention spans aren’t quite ready for full-length movies. So, we may watch a quick show or cartoon together on one night of the weekend. It’s really fun, and it sets the stage for when they get older to be able to watch longer movies with us. We did this a lot when I was younger, and we loved it.
- Homemade popcorn. I never, ever buy microwave popcorn anymore. For one, it is expensive. Secondly, it is full of funky chemicals that I am striving to get out of my family’s diet. Now we strictly make paper bag popcorn. It is just as fast (or faster) than the microwave popcorn, and tastes better. Plus, you can customize it to any flavor you want. We had an air popper when I was growing up, so that is a great alternative too. I don’t happen to have one, so the paper bag popcorn works for us. Plus, each kid can have his own bag, which is always a plus.
- Trips to the lake. There is a huge lake about 45 minutes away from our home that we like to go to. Many times, we will go to the national park/campground that has a beach area. It is really inexpensive to get in and it provides hours of fun when the weather is warm. Before we had kids, my husband and I spent nearly every weekend on the lake in the summertime riding our jet ski. When the kids are a little bigger, we will take them on rides too. I know they will love it.
- Summertime slumber parties with the cousins. When I was growing up, we used to have “summer camp” with my cousins who lived in the city. I grew up in the country. My cousins would come up for a week during the summer to visit. We would do crafts, go swimming, have campfires, have picnics on the porch, slumber parties in the living room, and eat tons of freshly picked watermelon. One year, my mom even made t-shirts for everyone. Although my kids cousins live nearby, we like to have “day camps” in the summer with slumber parties too. So many special memories can be made this way.
- Dinner around the table, discussing the activities of the day. The family dinner table time is something that I really think everyone should have. It is kind of sad that this even needs to be listed as a “tradition”, but the truth is that so many of us get so busy with the activities of the day that we forget to take that time in the evening to unwind and talk. So, be sure to sit down, turn off the television, and have a nice conversation during dinner. It is amazing what a difference it makes.
- Family read-aloud time. We read a bedtime story almost every single night, unless something has kept us out too late. My kids really look forward to this. My oldest son is learning to read, so many times I will let him read too. I’m so proud of him. It is amazing to see your child learn and grow, and to hear them read is just incredible. I really enjoy reading Crystal Paine’s blog Money Saving Mom. She gave me the idea to read aloud during dinner time. I thought this was a really nice idea and I may try to implement it very soon.
- Kick-off summer barbecue. I love, love, love summer time. The weather is warm, the gardens are in full bloom, and the kids are free to play for as long as the desire. We love to barbecue. At the beginning of summer, we like to do a big barbecue to celebrate. We make all kinds of fun food, play in the sprinklers, have watermelon, and just enjoy the long hot summer day. It is so much fun, and I am especially looking forward to it this year!
- Homemade birthday cakes. For my kid’s birthday’s I make it a point to make their birthday cakes. It is something I want to do for them. To me, it makes the birthday really special. Not to mention it is better for you and much less expensive. There have been a couple of instances when we had to purchase cakes. Last September, I had JUST had our third son, and I just wasn’t up to baking and decorating a cake. We ordered one from our local grocery store. It was lovely and the kids enjoyed it. But if I’m able to make their birthday cakes, I will. And I’m not a great cake decorator. Far from it, actually. What I usually do is look through books and magazines to find a cake I like and do my best attempt at making it look somewhat similar. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just special.
I hope you will take some time and start a few traditions with your family. Life is so short, and kids grow up so quickly. Family traditions will surely keep your kids young in your heart forever.