"A family that plays together stays together," isn't just a popular saying, it is true. When you do things together as a family, you build friendships and create memories that will last even when those hard times come. And you don't have to plan big events either. You can create small family traditions that will last through the years and be something your children look forward to.
Here are 10 mini-traditions that take little time but create something powerful:
1. Afternoon at the park
This is the perfect idea for a family with younger children. Choose one day a week and designate it "Park Day." In the afternoon or evening, spend an hour at the park. You can choose a different park each time or one your family loves.
This is a family tradition I grew up with and still love. Every Sunday night my mom makes a huge bowl of popcorn and we eat it together as a family. Some Sunday evenings we eat it watching movies, other nights we sit in the living room or out on the patio and talk while enjoying our popcorn.
3. Bedtime routine
Choose a specific bedtime routine that works for your kids and stick to it. But go one step farther - both you and your spouse put your children to bed together. Your kids will begin to look forward to this time alone with both parents and your dread of putting kids to bed will disappear. You can enjoy bedtime activities such as read stories, sing songs, ask your child questions, say prayers or lie next to one another and snuggle.
4. Birthday celebrations
As your children grow up, make birthdays a big deal. It is fun as a parent to see the excitement in your child's eyes, not only for presents but for a day all about them. Decorate your child's bedroom door with balloons, streamers and their favorite candy. Let your child choose his or her favorite meals for the day or take them out to their favorite restaurant. If possible, plan several of their favorite activities, such as going to a park, going swimming, watching their favorite movie, etc.
Every Tuesday night for dinner, eat tacos. Kids will come to expect the meal each week and it will make your weekly meal planning easier.
6. Camping adventures
Make a habit to frequently get out of the house and unplug together as a family. During the summer, designate specific weekends each month - like the first weekend of the month - and go to a new camping spot. Spend time fishing, playing card games, telling stories around the campfire. You will learn a lot about one another when your faces aren't hiding behind a smartphone or television screen.
7. One-on-one date nights
Make time for each child and let them know how important he or she is to you. Each month take each child out on a date. Take them to dinner or lunch and then let them choose an activity. This is a great way for them to feel special and for you to really get to know each one.
8. Family councils
Family councils are a powerful way for you to discuss problems and concerns as a family. You can discuss needs and worries you have for specific family members or your entire family. You can also discuss any upcoming events or challenges you may face as a family. These family meetings don't have to take long but they should be held frequently, whether on a weekly, or at a minimum, monthly basis.
Did you know there are random holidays such as National Pancake Day, National Ice Cream Day and even National Log Cabin Day? Every month, find one or two of these obscure holidays that you can celebrate. Celebrations don't have to big events. For National Pancake Day, enjoy pancakes for dinner and go out for ice cream or have a fun ice cream bar on National Ice Cream Day. Find a few obscure holidays your family would love to celebrate and be creative. The possibilities are endless.
10. Family prayer
One of the best and easiest ways for your family to grow together is through family prayer. Every morning and night, gather your family together and pray. This is something that may seem small and doesn't take a considerable amount of time, but it will bring powerful results to your family and family relationships.
Courtnie is an editor for FamilyShare.com and has a degree in journalism. She has a slight obsession with running, newspapers and large fuzzy blankets. She currently lives in Idaho with her husband and two sons.