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What are traditions? Those special things you remember from growing up that bring a smile to your face at any given time. In our busy every day, it can be hard to do things as a family to create those special memories but it doesn’t have to be hard to come up with little traditions that your kids will remember so many years down the road.
Hey friends, we all have those days where the kids stress us out and the thought of doing anything creative is far on the back burner – been there, done that! But today, I’m going to share some simple traditions that you can start with your children today and continue easily.
I often find myself thinking ahead to when we have grandchildren and sharing the stories of early parenthood and childhood with them. What will I be sharing with them? Maybe we’ll talk about how every year, we took the kids to the local tree farm, picked out and cut down our family Christmas tree. Or maybe it’ll be the birthday photo session we planned every year. Whatever the memory, I know I’ll be glad that I decided to create some simple annual traditions that my kids will be sure to remember and I hope to spark some ideas for you to implement in your own family! So let’s get right to it…
- Christmas Tree Farm
We didn’t even start this tradition right away when we had kids but for the last 9 years, we have taken the kids to a local tree farm the weekend after Thanksgiving. We bundle up and walk around the farm looking for the best tree to bring home. James will cut the tree down (sometimes the older ones will try their hand at sawing the trunk) and he cuts an extra wood slice from the trunk to use as our annual ornament. The kids take turns dragging the wagon back to the front of the farm and we grab cider and popcorn from the shop. I’m always sure to bring my camera with me to grab a few photos of us walking around and after the tree is on the car, we take a photo of all the kids together.
- Birthday Photo Session
Some of our annual traditions are for everyone in the family and some of them were created as a special tradition for just one child. The birthday photo session tradition could definitely be for each of your children but for us, it’s a special time for my oldest daughter and I to spend about 45 minutes alone, capturing her growth from the past year.
I started this when she was three years old. We took a walk around the neighborhood and I let her lead the way, taking pictures posed and candid. Your photo session doesn’t have to be fancy, you don’t have to book a session with a professional photographer (though that could be a special thing to do). Sometimes our photo sessions are inside, sometimes they are a month or two after her birthday but we always make sure it’s just the two of us and we enjoy an adventure together. I like to ask her where she wants her photo session to take place – some ideas she has shared are: ice cream shop, at the creek, a walk around the neighborhood, playground, beach, photo studio.
3. Mom and Me Journaling
This is something I started with my older two when they were old enough to write on their own, about 2nd or 3rd grade. For my daughter, I created a journal from a composition book.
–Grab Your Freebie Journal Title. Girly or Boyish versions available below, just right click on the image and save to your computer. Print on a sticker sheet or plain paper and tape it to your book.
For my son, I purchased a book with prompts and I love that it’s something different and still special between just the two of us. Grab your own copy with the links below.
4. Elf on the Shelf
What a fun little thing this Elf has become! We bought our Elf when the older two were young and bring him out every year. Now that some of the kids are older and no longer “believe” we made a deal that they would help keep the magic alive for their younger siblings. If I forget, they will remind me or take it upon themselves to move him to his next hiding spot. Every year, the day after Thanksgiving, Shine shows up and he goes home to the North Pole on Christmas Eve.
Some people are a little creeped out by the Elf so just know that to do create this fun tradition, it doesn’t have to be with the Elf. You could have a special reindeer stuffy or maybe an angel figurine.
5. 1st Day of School Photo
I’m a sucker for the photo traditions because they are something tangible that can help trigger the memory. I print out a sign for each of the night before school starts every year but you could easily create one in MS Word or on a chalkboard, piece of paper. The main point is to just capture a picture at the start of each school year to watch them grow.
6. Pumpkin Patch
A trip to the pumpkin patch every year makes for a great annual tradition. We like to go to a local pick your own pumpkin patch and let the kids each pick their own. When we get home, they decide how they want to decorate or carve their pumpkin and dad makes his delicious pumpkin pies from the insides.
7. Family Movie Night
I’ll be honest, we don’t do family movie night as often as I’d like but when we do, we have so much fun! We pick a movie that we would all enjoy (lately, it’s been 80s or 90s classics that James and I enjoyed as kids), grab some blankets and popcorn and turn out all the lights. This usually takes place on Friday nights for us.
8. Baking Together
I ask each of the kids every so often to bake something with me. Just me and one of the kids for two reasons: 1. it makes it more special when you give one child individual attention and 2. they won’t fight over who gets to do what when they know it’s just one child’s turn. Pick something fairly easy that they can really dig in and help with.
9. Family Reading Night
This is one of my faves! We pick a book and read it together. It makes reading fun for the kids and we get to enjoy 30 minutes or so without arguing because they are all really into the story. For some extra tips on this tradition, hop on over and check out my post on 10 Family Reading Night Books that you’ll enjoy with your kiddos.
I hope these ideas help you create some amazing memories with your children! No matter what traditions you come up with, they will be something your family remembers and looks back on for years to come!
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