Connecting rituals are routines and traditions that help us build our relationships. Every good relationship has them.
However, these rituals are particularly poignant when parents establish them with their children.
Understand the Role of Connecting Rituals
First of all, all routines help add stability to children’s lives. They thrive when their homes and relationships are predictable.
For example, a child who knows that no matter what their parents will tuck them into bed each night is a child who feels a sense of safety and security.
Moreover, connecting rituals help parents focus on the little things. It’s all too easy as a parent to fall into the trap of constantly looking into the future. After all, it’s part of your job to help your child succeed.
However, in the midst of looking at the big picture, you can lose sight of all of the little joys. You don’t want to miss your child’s days in the pressure to take care of their years. Daily routines remind you to enjoy the process.
Finally, connecting rituals serve as touchstones for the whole family. No matter what else goes right or wrong, those rituals bring you back together.
If a family always has a cup of cocoa together after the year’s first snowfall, then they’ll be likely to set aside differences on that day of the year in order to embrace that old comfort.
Daily Connecting Rituals for Parents and Kids
What we do every day is ultimately what our lives become. In other words, daily connecting rituals hold a lot of power.
They are small acts, but their constant repetition makes them a key foundation in a child’s life. Choose several of the connecting rituals from the list below and incorporate them into your own daily life.
- Enjoying device-free dinners.
- Giving kisses and hugs.
- Reading bedtime stories.
- Saying “I love you” each morning and night.
- Sharing one thing you each love about each other.
- Sharing one thing you’re each grateful for.
- Telling jokes including inside jokes only your family understands.
- Trading five-minute massages.
- Walking the dog together.
Take a look at your own daily schedule. Are there routines already in place? What can you build into the day to turn normal habits—such as bath time—into connecting rituals?
Weekly and Monthly Connecting Rituals
Daily connecting rituals are usually brief and happen often throughout the day. In contrast, there are some connecting rituals that take a little bit more time. They don’t happen quite as often, but they are richer and deeper in terms of shared experience.
Schedule some of the following options to happen weekly, biweekly, or monthly:
- Eating breakfast together in the parents’ bed
- Family picnics
- Learning one new fact or skill to teach the rest of the family
- Road trips to nearby cities
- Seasonal exercise (hiking, biking, skiing, etc.)
- Taking photo hunt walks together
- Trips to the library to select books
- Visits to local museums, zoos, plays, etc.
Many families enjoy creating connecting rituals around food. Some families cook together or take turns planning meals. Others like to go out to dinner at new restaurants together. What connecting rituals make the most sense for your dinner table?
Annual Connecting Rituals and Holiday Traditions
Some of the most powerful connecting rituals only happen once per year. Most people have some kind of holiday tradition.
For example, if you celebrate Chanukah then you get out the menorah at the end of each year, right? If you celebrate Christmas, then maybe you love to put the ornaments on the tree together.
Your family’s holiday traditions are important. However, they shouldn’t be your only annual rituals. Sprinkle annual traditions throughout the year for a calendar full of time connecting.
Examples include finding unique ways to celebrate:
- Annual vacations
- Birthdays including half-birthdays and pets’ birthdays
- Minor holidays such as Labor Day
- School year starting and ending
- The start of each season
- The year’s first snowfall
Alternatively, pick a day on the calendar that is always “such and such day” for your family. For example, every March 3rdis “stay home, play board games, and eat brownies” day in your house.
Did you know that connecting rituals are something you might work on in parenting counseling? Learn more here.