Happy New Year everyone! I realize I’m a little late to the party, but things have been busy around here…planning for this new year and looking back to figure out what worked and what didn’t in 2013.
One of the things I’ve been looking at in that process is holiday traditions. As a family with young kids, we’re just in the early stages of building out the traditions we want to celebrate year after year. It seems like we often go through a lot of trial and error to get there, cleaning up after more than one flop that looked like it would be so easy on Pinterest. But I think we’re making headway…
One thing the kids love is Easter Baskets. I enjoy putting them together (plus it gives me an excuse to go to Target without the kids in tow) and they love getting them. Other Easter traditions, like Egg Hunts, I’ve realized don’t have to depend on me. It seems there’s always at least one group of friends doing one that we can join, and it’s less stress for me.
I grew up celebrating Independence Day with a hometown parade and Kyle’s family never missed fireworks. So we try to hit up both on the 4th of July.
Birthdays…this is one that seems to be ever-evolving. We don’t do birthday parties every year for every kid, but we still want to make the day special for them. So we’ve started decorating their bedroom door with birthday streamers and giving them a grand entrance to the day.
Another thing we like to do for birthdays is an elaborate (as I can manage to make it) cake. They get to pick the subject/theme for their birthday cake and then I do my best to surprise them with it that night. Lucky for me, at 5 and under they are all still easily impressed. ;)
I love fall, and the week of Jessie and Buzz’s birthdays seems to kick off a 2 month holiday at our house. So far, we’ve never missed Pumpkin Carving with Dad, although cleaning the seeds isn’t really anyone’s favorite part.
Even if our block didn’t have a Halloween Parade, I think the kids would still dress up for Halloween. They love that dress up box so much; we’re in costumes 5 days a week as it is. Doing it with all our friends and neighbors on the same day just makes it that much more awesome!
This year, in anticipation of Christmas, we took the kids to see the Christmas Lights. It was a lot of fun and I think I’d like to continue the tradition, however we might modify it a bit for next year. A friend of mine told me that they had their kids go through the normal bedtime routine, then when the kids went up to bed they found “tickets” on their pillow. When they came back downstairs, the car was running and hot chocolate was ready and they drove around to look at lights. I think that might be the way to do it next time!
We love decorating Christmas cookies each year, but this time around we also did Gingerbread Houses while we were at the grandparents’ house in Colorado. I liked it because not only do I want to be thinking about what traditions the kids do with Kyle and I, but also to develop a few that are done with the grandmas and grandpas, too. The Trader Joe’s Gingerbread Kits made it super easy, too easy to pass up. This’ll be a keeper.
Sometimes this stage of life makes traditions difficult. My kids aren’t quite ready to stay up and ring in the new year, sometimes they’re asleep before the fireworks start, they don’t always help clean up the mess or smile for the picture. But that’s not really my goal with our family traditions (although it sure is nice when it works out). My goal is to be intentional about creating some family time. The tradition is more of an excuse to do something fun and a reminder to enjoy the little things. If things never went wrong in the middle of it, think how boring our family memories would be 20 years from now.
I’d like to incorporate more this year…something for Valentine’s Day, Memorial Day or Thanksgiving. Maybe swap out mediocre ones with something better or come up with a few that we can do with our friends and cousins. Maybe something not holiday related. I’d love to start date nights with the kids or Family Adventure Days where we all go see or do something local once a month. What is the one tradition your family wouldn’t dream of skipping, no matter how hectic life gets? Tell me what your kids love…