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Happy family habits #5: Make family traditions both big and small - part of a great series tackling ways to be a happier family 21 days at a time.

Happy Family Habit #5: Making Family Traditions

It’s been another 21 days guys – which means it’s time for “Happy Family Habit” #5.  So far we’ve tackled sharing you story, writing down your gratitude, unplugging, and finding your silly. How are you doing with the list?  Now’s a great time to jump in and get started!  I love the idea of making family traditions both big and small.

Camping is becoming a summer tradition that our kiddos love, but we do lots of little stuff too. For instance, every time we’re driving on an overpass, I yell, “tall bridge” and then the kids and I all stick are hands up in the air (one hand for me – safety first) and scream our heads off like we’re on a roller coaster.  It’s a small thing but I have a feeling they’ll remember it when they’re older and smile, just like I remember playing slug bug with my dad on the way to school every morning.


What are your family’s big and little traditions?

While you’re musing over that, here’s Kristin with more ideas…

Memories are made from traditions.  Those things that we do time and time again.  The things we look forward to are what ties us together as a family.  I started thinking about traditions (big and small).  What is it that makes them special and why are we doing them in the first place?

When I was a kid, we camped like no one’s business.  As soon as the snow melted, my parents loaded up the camping trailer and we hit the road.  That time together bonded us as a family and we still laugh about all those experiences out in the wilderness.  Something like camping or a yearly vacation takes some saving and planning.  It’s what we look forward to all year.

Our family has decided to invest in this tradition.  We will fly to Montana (where I grew up) or plan a local camping trip every summer.  I love the memories we are making and the way the kids are bonding over learning to fish and putting up a tent.


Big trips and yearly planned events aren’t the only way to make memories with your family.  I’m a big fan of small traditions too.  Our weeks tend to get jam-packed with all the things we have to do.  So, during the warmer months, we ditch the table full of dinner dishes and walk around the block.

Sometimes we all walk, sometimes the kids will ride bikes or scooters.  But it’s something we all do together.  We take time to breath and connect with each other in a way that’s easy to do.  Those dishes can wait 15 minutes!


Over the course of our kids’ lives we’ve lived a few different places.  We currently live close to the beach, so we’ve made a tradition of weekly beach trips.  In the colder months, we might just watch the waves or build sand castles and when it gets warmer, the kids are learning to surf.

Take advantage of local spots that only your family can visit!  It may not always be there, so make it part of your family’s memories.


I hope you’ll build on those simple traditions and maybe even plan some traditions on an even larger scale.  And this gets easier as the kids get older!  You’re making memories as a family.  It’s such a gift to give your children!


What are your big and little family traditions?



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Kristin is a former teacher turned children’s photographer in southern California. Visit her website to read all about her adventures in photography, cooking, and her love of style.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Amy June 20, 2013 at 1:57 am

We do family night every Saturday. We watch a movie but aa the kids grow we will introduce board games too. Of course there are yummy treats too. We thought we would give traditions a go and start with this. I am thrilled at how much our 3 year old loves it. He tells ANYONE who will listen that it’s family night when Saturday rolls around. It has even helped him learn the days of the week. Well worth it even when we are tired :-)


Steph (MPMK Founder) June 20, 2013 at 2:19 am

Love that Amy :). We have an informal tradition with movie night, meaning it’s not weekly but whenever we say “movie night” the kids always know we mean watching a movie, having a “picnic dinner” on beach towels on the living room floor, and then having some popcorn :). They LOVE it! Last week we watched The Lorax, which was a big hit and has a great message.


Pete June 27, 2013 at 8:10 am

I love this post. The little things like throwing the hands in the air or slug bug (we called it punch buggy) is great and inspires me to think more about this. We have the big annual tradition of the 12 hour car ride to the grand parents house but on a small scale I hope they remember playing and drawing together.


kristin eldridge photography June 27, 2013 at 9:20 pm

Thanks for bringing back some good ‘slug bug’ memories! It’s fun being a parent and making even the mundane (like car trips) FUN! Love your blog by the way. :)


Alicia September 23, 2014 at 9:41 am

This is an awesome point; family traditions are so easy to overlook, but they’re so important.

My Grammie (also in Montana!) is a huge source of family traditions for me.
Every holiday with her is so special, partly because she’s as enthusiastic about it as any child would be, and partly because of the many special traditions she maintains.
Every Thanksgiving is the classic, many delicious dishes, Grandpa carves the beautiful golden turkey kind of holiday. -Every- dinner together we hold hands and give thanks in prayer.
Some little traditions are very special to her.
Every time we drove under this one leaning tree on their land… every time… she would stop or slow down and make a show of gasping and asking, “Oh! Do you think we’ll make it under the leaning tree?” And we’d roll up to it slowly, watching for any sign of movement, and then zoom out from under it to safety on the other side and she’d say, “Oh, we made it this time!” sounding relieved haha.
We’d always stop by the “Duck Pond” (where you can feed ducks and fish) at least once per visit, go to Shannon pond by their property to see “Marcella” or “Micheal” moose, we’d go to every Powwow we could, and she had a little stuffed toy called The Widget that “moved by itself” when no one was looking. She enters photos, rolls, things from her garden and a pair of hand-knitted socks in the fair every year… her socks have one the blue ribbon for fifty years in a row now.
Christmas is her specialty though… reindeer food (oats with glitter in them that we’d toss in the snow, and which was “eaten” and disappeared overnight), stockings that filled and presents that appeared from “Santa” under the tree overnight… she’d even have someone sneak around the house where we couldn’t see them ringing jingle bells when we stayed up too late, and say, “Oh that’s Santa! But he’s waiting to stop here until you go to bed; if you go to sleep now he’ll stop next time he goes by!”

On car rides, my family would play games like finding each letter of the alphabet in the signs that go by (the first to Z wins!) the alliteration game, mad libs, 20 questions, the gibberish game (sort of like charades but two people trying to communicate with gibberish of their own making and hand gestures for a short time; then when they’re done they each take turns replaying their part in English. It can be really funny how the course of conversation can go when one person is, say, giving the other a puppy while the other is trying to bake a pizza). Or we might just color. :)


Lisa Sadleir January 7, 2015 at 11:30 am

It is amazing how quickly newly invented “family traditions” become essential habits in our children’s lives. From a wet caravan holiday in Wales 4 years ago, any cold and rainy day now calls for hot chocolate and marshmallows. Fortunately, as we live in southern Spain, these days are not so frequent.
We have several family Christmas and Birthday traditions that our children adore. It’s all about playing together as a family unit.
It’s what we love :)


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