Majoring in Family Studies I was always going over research that had been done to see what keeps a family strong and close together. There were two main practices that often came up; one being traditions meaning things like those yearly family vacations or family traditions surrounding holidays. These are great things to be included in our family to make memories and have fun together, but the most important thing found in family research that keeps families strong and happy are everyday rituals or meaningful routines such as family mealtime, bedtime routines, working around the house together, or having a snack and visiting when the kids get home from school.
I’ve lately come to realize how truly important it is to make the everyday routines meaningful. I’ve also come to learn that rituals don’t just happen, rather I need to be intentional about going through the day’s routine and making it something my girls are going to treasure while helping us all grow closer together.
Having a husband who is gone for work just about every other week and sometimes two in a row we often find ourselves battling to find time to spend together and stay close. It got to the point where Eric was traveling a lot for work and was really busy and I had a lot of things going on myself. We seemed to just be tag teaming watching over the girls so we could get our things done while we let the demands of life sweep over our family. One day I realized how distant Eric and I were and how each day I found myself just going through the routines but not really making those simple moments meaningful. The issue wasn’t Eric’s job or necessarily some of the things I had going, it was that we were letting the demands of life be an excuse for not doing some of our family rituals and not taking the time to create meaning around things like our meals and bedtime.
Our main goal as a family is to create a place were everyone in it can feel safe, like they belong and to know that they can always have someone to turn to that love them no matter what. In order to achieve that goal Eric and I knew that we had to start working harder and try to be more intentional about the time we’re given together. Here are some of the things we came up with:
– Communicate more throughout the day. Even though Eric is often hundreds of miles away we still are able to stay close by sending text throughout the day and I try to send a couple pictures of the girls and some of the things we are doing as well. Eric will sometimes sent a video in the morning telling the girls good morning. Then in the evenings we video chat before the girls go to bed while often singing some of Mia’s favorite songs together or saying a family prayer. I’ve had to put a lot of effort into this as I’m terrible at communicating through text or the phone, but it has made such a difference since starting.
– Have at least one family meal together sitting around the table without any distractions. Eric and I both grew up doing this in our families and knew when we got married it was something we wanted to continue. We usually use dinner as our time to sit around the table together as a family and discuss our day, sometimes to teach our girls some new things and just laugh.
– Turn off all our electronics at dinner and keep them off until at least the kids go to bed. For most families the few hours between the end of work and bedtime is the only time the entire family can be together. When Eric is home we wanted to try and use that time to give our full attention to the girls and do activities together.
– Slow down at bedtime and use it as a chance to spend quality time with the girls. By the end of some days I am counting down the minutes to get the girl’s in their pj’s and stick them in their beds. However, as I’ve started to slow down I’ve been able to see small teaching opportunities or chances to giggle and laugh as they get ready for bed and as we snuggle close to read bedtimes stories. It’s also a great time to visit with your kids and let them open up to you about things that are on their mind.
– Work together around the home. Now that we own a house, Saturdays seems to be filled with things we’re needing to do around it. When we can we try to do it all together not only to teach our girls how to clean, but to spend more time together. Most often it makes the work load more enjoyable and satisfying in the end.
I can’t say everyday exactly emulates what’s listed above. Creating those meaningful rituals around our everyday routines takes effort and thought, but the point is we are trying because we know what kind of family we want to be. Perhaps if more marriages and families took on a more “intentional” approach to creating meaningful rituals we would have less divorces and families that are distant and broken as any kind of relationship takes constant effort and nurturing.
I would love to hear some of things you do in your families to make everyday things more meaningful so please comment!