Children grow up so quickly and before you know it they’re leaving home, so what better way to capture all the wonderful memories of their childhood than by starting some special family traditions.
Many scientific studies have shown that choosing to focus your kids’ lives on experiences and memory creation rather than material things has a profound impact on their happiness. And who could turn down the possibility of a happier home?
We decided to create a bucket list of traditions to start with our families this year – those little moments that are unique to your kids and they’ll always associate with home.
Why don’t you give a new one a go for each month?
1. The Secret Family Handshake
This may sound a bit cheesy, but the kids will love it! Come up with a special handshake that only your family knows and do it on special occasions or if someone has done something particularly special.
We aren’t suggesting anything as complicated as Lindsay Lohan’s scene in The Parent Trap, but even something simple can become bonding and will last long into their adult years.
There’s a lovely story about a girl whose family used to press each other’s hands three times to signal ‘I love you’, and the day her dad was walking her down the aisle, he gave her this handshake at the altar. No one else in the room even knew it was happening, but she said it was one of the most moving moments of her life.
2. The Birthday Hat
Pick a hat that becomes the ‘official’ birthday hat for your family, and then regardless of age, gender (or personal preference), someone always has to wear the hat on their special day.
Whether you’re at home, out at a restaurant or with friends, the hat must be worn. You’ll find your kids never feel the same about birthdays without the hat!
3. The New Year Interview
It’s amazing how quickly our kids grow up, from one year to the next they change so much – from what they like, how they look and what their dreams and goals are.
A New Year interview is a quick and easy way to capture their changing personalities each year. All you need to do is pick some questions for the year ahead, such as ‘What are you most looking forward to’ or ‘What do you want to achieve this year’ and document that answers each year.
The joy comes in reading back through the old interviews. You could even film them doing it – they might find it embarrassing to watch back in a couple of years but as they get older, they’ll love the personal trip down memory lane.
4. The Family Newsletter
Whilst most people think they are more in touch with friends and family than ever before – with the help of technology – the written letter or Christmas card is slowly dying out.
Bringing back a family newsletter, something you can post or email with your extended friends and family, will ensure that you make the time to reach out to the people important in your life. It will also teach your children to invest in longer communications and storytelling.
We love the idea of this template which features updates on each of the children, includes travel plans, funny quotes from the children (of which there are always many) and your favourite moments from the year as a family. It also gives you something to look back on to remember the year.
5. The Back-to-School Photoshoot
Whilst back-to-school photographs are nothing new, taking one in the same place every year will make it seem that more special – and you can gather all the pictures into a timeline of their school years.
If you’re worried about moving house, try and find a blank canvas, such as a brick wall or a white wall to keep the pictures consistent – it’s much more fun to compare how much they’ve changed!
For a real sentimental touch, get a large t-shirt printed with the year they will be graduating from senior school and take pictures of them growing into it.
6. The Family Time Capsule
Do you remember doing time capsules at school? Why not mark big events by putting together a family trove of memories for you to discover at a later date.
What may seem normal or boring now will be hilarious when you dig it up in a few years time and take a trip down memory lane.
7. The Special Plate
The joy of the special plate is that there doesn’t have to be any special reason to bring it out. Have one designated ‘special plate’ in your kitchen and bring it out on an otherwise normal day to cheer someone up or celebrate a small achievement.
It’s amazing how much a tiny gesture such as getting to use the special plate can put a smile on someone’s face.
8. The Family Charity Walk
Getting outside in the fresh air is something that all parents are always trying to encourage their little ones to do so why not combine it with doing something good for charity?
Not only do you get to teach your children the value of charity but you can also learn about nature and get a good dose of quality family time!
Pick a charity that is close to your families hearts and make sure to join in with their organised events – they are easily available on website listings such as Time Outdoors.
9. The Kids’ Choice Dinner
Mark special occasions – such as the last day of school – with a Kids’ Choice meal. One that one day, the kids have complete control over what they are having for dinner. They will look forward to the treat and you can deflect their daily dinner demands with the promise of that Kids Choice Day is coming up.
10. The Annual Family Photo
Take a picture of your family, all together in the same place and pose every year. You could chose a special place in your house, somewhere you go on holiday, or an occasion where you’ll always be together as a family.
The pictures of this brother and sister 10 years apart are so adorable, we can’t wait to recreate something similar at home!
11. The Kids’ Height Wall
A oldie but a goodie! Marking their height on a wall as your children grow (and out grow you) is a simple slice of nostalgia that is easy to replicate in your own home.
Instead of the traditional way of drawing marks on a wall, we love the idea of this ruler which you can move around. Perfect if you move house or if you don’t want to damage your walls, this method allows you to keep the memories with you, wherever you end up.
12. The Family Film Night
Although our home might not be as impressively decorated as this one, a monthly family film night is definitely a tradition we can get behind. Get everyone together with lots of blankets, snacks and hot chocolate and spend some time away from phones and laptops to watch the same thing at the same time.
Get the family to rate and review each film after you have watched it and at the end of the year you can pick your family’s favourite film and watch it again.
13. Message In A Bottle
This is a perfect idea for those days during the school holiday when the kids are getting a little bored.
All you need is an empty wine bottle (we’re sure you have lots of those lying around) and some paper to write a note. Make sure to wash the labels off the outside of the bottle and then get your kids to write a message. Make them guess who they are addressing their letter to and where they would like it to go – you never know where it might wash up!
When five-year-old twins Lucie and Ellie Readings threw their bottles into the sea from their home in Dovercourt, Essex last August they thought that was the end of the fun.
It was only when a Spanish woman turned up on their doorstep at the end of the year that they knew anyone had received their message. The recipient, who lived in the Canary Islands, found the bottle on a beach in Tenerife. But, not speaking any English, she wanted to visit the girls instead of attempting to write a response.
Inspired by their story we are going to get writing straight away!
Do you have any of your own family traditions to share with us? Leave us a comment below!