Family traditions – creating happy memories

Family traditions are at the core for creating happy memories for children.

Family traditions have always meant a lot to me. I had a happy childhood with several fond memories to look back on. No matter where we’ve lived or whatever the situation, my family has been my safe haven. And this is something that I want to provide my children with too.

Now you might say that, woah, I’m not traditional, this post is not for me. Well, family traditions or family culture if you prefer, don’t really need to have anything to do with being traditional or formal traditions. Instead, they’re small things, special things, that make your family special to you and create lifelong memories. And that is something for everyone!

Possibly one of the most important reasons for why family traditions are so important to me, is that I grew up in various environments. We didn’t move that many times when I was younger, but when we did move, the changes were huge. I’ve lived in eight different countries during my 35 years of life. The majority as a grownup or independent traveler, but when I was 16, I had spent half of my life living abroad. My surroundings changed, but our family traditions remained.

I have a fantastic family that have supported me through thick and thin, not only by providing me with a happy childhood, but also as an immense support later in life. You can read more on the topic of family as a support network here.

So what exactly are family traditions?

Family traditions are something that your family does repeatedly. It’s a way of creating a feeling of belonging to your family, fostering a special bond. They’re the moments that create lifelong cherished memories.

Family traditions can be anything from sitting down for Sunday dinner to how your family celebrates birthdays. The event doesn’t need to require extra effort and commitment, but It should be an intentional act. Something that has been thought through to have meaning. The best family traditions can feel magical when you’re growing up, and bring tears of joy to your eyes years later.

Why would my family need traditions?

First of all, we all need a bit of magic in our lives. Or spice. And even more so, kids need it. With a little bit of planning and thought, you can easily create traditions of your own.

A lot of my family traditions are based on things that my parents and grandparents did. Those traditions have been important enough for me, that it was only natural that I keep the traditions alive for my own children. Just as well though, it has been very important for me to create new traditions for my own family.

Three kinds of traditions you should have for your family

Daily traditions

Daily traditions are the small things that are done every day to embrace values and identity within a family. They can be daily routines, a bedtime story, sitting down for dinner together. They should be something that involve communication and a feeling of unity as a family. Every time we get in the car to head off somewhere, I ask my girls: “Where to, my ladies?” It’s a simple, silly gesture, that they appreciate and expect, and everyone wants to answer. We’ve been doing it for a few years, and if I forget to ask, the girls will remind me. I also ask everyone how their day is going to be, just as I ask again how their day went we meet again in the afternoon. It’s our thing, a part of our little daily family traditions.

Weekly Traditions

Weekly traditions serve the same purpose as daily traditions, only not as frequent. We have for example dedicated Friday evenings to family time. We call it myskväll in Swedish, i.e. cozy night. There’s no real great translation to the word, but the concept is simple. We cozy up. We usually watch a movie together with snacks and treats, everybody cuddled up close to each other on one couch. Or we do puzzles or play board games together, whatever the girls pick. It’s a way for us to unwind from the week, but also feel very united and tight as a family. Weekend breakfasts are also a big deal for us. Your weekly traditions could be something very different, such as heading to the park together, eating brunch on Sunday mornings. Anything positive that brings your family together weekly.  

Weekly family traditions are an important part of creating happy childhood memories.

Life Traditions

Life traditions are the special celebrations and traditions your family has for birthdays, milestones, simply, bigger events outside of daily life. Now I’m a fan of celebrations of any kind, so I tend to go overboard with pretty much any occasion possible for celebration. You don’t need to do that though. Because your family has its own traditions! It could be anything from preparing a specific meal for a holiday, taking an annual picture for your Christmas cards, visiting a special place, like your favorite beach, cafe, theme park, as a milestone reward. I make birthdays a huge deal, we celebrate name days, loosing a tooth is news shouted out to our extended family.. Whatever it is that your family does for bigger events is your family’s tradition. Create traditions that reflect your family values!

If you want more ideas on different kinds of family traditions you could create for your own family, check out these 32 ideas for inspiration!

Creating happy memories

Time goes by very quickly. You blink and you’ve missed a week. Sneeze and it’s been a month. So how do you hold on to the special moments? Collect and save items, photographs? Sure. But it’s simply not very practical to save each and every item and photo that has ever had a positive impact on our lives. Unless you have access to absolutely massive storage.. Most of us don’t, and it’s not a realistic goal to chase. So instead, you create memories. We’ve only got one shot at life and there’s no point in not making the most of it.

The mind of course also has a nasty way of erasing memories, just as you could loose a box of pictures in a move. But all in all, no matter how old we get, I’d dare say that most people will have an answer to the question of whether or not they had a happy childhood. They might not remember all the details, but they have a grasp on whether they hold positive or negative memories.

Family traditions are at the core for creating happy memories for children.

Positive memories remain

When there are more positive emotions to retain, the overall impression of your childhood will be that of a happy one. Every day will not be a happy day, that’s a fact, but, according to research, pleasant memories are better retained than negative ones!

There are a million situations and ways to create happy memories, but if I can have an impact on how my children look back at their past, I want it to be a positive push. Hence family traditions as one means.

If you’re still not convinced, think about it this way. According to an article in Psychology Today, a happy childhood has a great impact on behavior later in life, such as sense of self and a feeling of social connections. A negative association with ones childhood has the opposite effect; it can create challenges in sustaining relationships and dealing with stress. And surprise, surprise, the happiest memories come from social events, activities and family traditions.

Have a great weekend and go create some fantastic memories for your little ones! xx

3 types of family traditions you should incorporate into your family's life.

Family traditions are key to creating fond childhood memories.

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8 thoughts on “Family traditions – creating happy memories

  1. I love my family traditions. They are always something I can count on and make me feel closer to my family. This was a very sweet post

    1. Exactly! I remember at some point family traditions (as a teenager perhaps..) felt like a drag, but now years later, I wouldn’t trade them for the world! They’ve had such a positive impact on my life and that’s something I want to give to my own children too.

  2. You are totally right about creating happy memories by observing family traditions. It is very crucial in this day and age when a lot of people are so busy with many things in life and sometimes forget the things that matter the most.

  3. Totally agree about the effects of a positive vs negative childhood. My childhood was pretty negative, recovering from that took a lot of work, but my husband can certainly still notice the effects and sometimes they get to him. I made a commitment to parent my children differently but it’s really hard because sometimes its the small things that get you. The best possible thing I could expect from my mum was cold indifference. The alternatives were being yelled at, criticized or ranted at. There were no “good morning”s or “welcome home”s. I don’t get offended if no-one acknowledges me when I walk in a room, but my husband certainly does, and my son certainly notices a difference in how his dad greets him compared to me. They’re really basic things but incredibly difficult to learn and implement as an adult. After being married I realized that perhaps a lot of these things are why I struggle to make friends. I probably come off as very aloof and disinterested when people try to talk to me.

    I’m just so lucky that my husband has a pretty good family and had a lot of the routines and traditions you spoke about. When you come from a dysfunctional family your understanding of healthy dynamics is pretty limited. You either learn it in third person (from articles like this) or from limited time spent with friends families or other relatives’ households. When I visit my husbands family I always felt like they loved me more than my own family did – they include me in their family activities and try to talk (our spoken communication is really limited because they don’t speak English and my Turkish isn’t enough for complex conversation), generally show an interest in knowing me. I think that in itself speaks volumes of how powerful family traditions are – that despite having little verbal communication, they can make people feel appreciated and part of a family.

    Great article. Take care.

  4. It was our daughter’s first Christmas this year, so we started the tradition of having the celebration at our house. All the grandparents come, we have brunch, and hang out in our Christmas pjs all day! I love traditions, and hope to make more soon!

  5. I agree that having these traditions is important. For my family and I, it often involved driving into Corpus, the nearest city, on the weekends to see a movie, go shopping, or have lunch.

  6. I do agree with your thoughts on traditions and being able to look back on them fondly. I never thought about daily traditions before, but we always eat dinner as a family and read our kids a book of their choice before bedtime. So important to make sure your family has traditions that bind you together.

    1. I have to admit that daily routines as part of family traditions came as a surprise to me too when I started researching the topic. But then again it makes sense, it’s the small things and thoughts that matter and they’re actually a big part of my own childhood memories.

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