The Awesome Power of 4 Tiny Family Traditions

No room in your family’s hectic schedule for “quality time”? These mini rituals make it easier to carve out special bonding moments.

lunch notes, love noteMost of the time it feels like our little family of three — my kiddo, my husband, and I – is living inside a tornado. Our days and weeks feel like a whirlwind of work, school, activities, dinners, breakfasts, and events.

Often it feels like a race that leaves us winded and exhausted.

I’d love for us to have more time to chill out and catch our collective breath, but that’s not always possible. What I try to do instead: Come up with tiny traditions that can anchor and stabilize our crazy busy days. They’re nothing fancy or complicated—just simple tricks to turn regular moments into memorable ones. Doing that makes the ordinary just a little more extraordinary, and ensures that our daily race to the finish line always has a few meaningful pauses in it. Here are a few of my favorites:

1. “Civilized mornings”
When my husband travels, my daughter and I have “civilized mornings.” We put on classical music, make a nice breakfast, drink some tea, and sometimes even speak with a British accent. It’s our little girls’ tradition and it makes a hectic morning a bit more, well, civilized.

2. Gratitude lunchbox notes
Every morning I write a little note and put it in my daughter’s lunchbox. I take a few seconds to think of something to thank her for or to tell her whatever it is that I’m looking forward to us doing that weekend. It’s my little gratitude ritual every morning and I know it’s something she looks forward to at school.

3. Friday family movie night
By the time we all get home on Friday night we’re exhausted, so cooking is out of the question. We get takeout and have a picnic while we watch a movie in the living room. It’s like a big collective family exhale.

4. Random-dinner Sundays
On Sunday nights I cook up a storm for the coming week—I make and prep dinner for four days ahead. So for dinner that night we have our very official “random dinner.” Sometimes it’s leftovers. Sometimes it’s breakfast for dinner. Sometimes it’s really just a collection of random stuff we find in our fridge. It’s low-key and relaxed and it lets us finish out the weekend on a spontaneous note.

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest