One of my deepest desires is for us to be a close-knit family. And not just to be close now when the kids are young…but I truly want us to be close later in life, too. Whether the kids are teenagers or grown and gone, I want us to be close-knit.
I know that if I want our family to be close in the long-term, we must take action now to make sure my dream becomes a reality. But what? How do you become a close-knit family? Does positive parenting really help with that?
In a 50-year research study review, scholars looked at family rituals and routines to see how this affected relationships.
The review of more than 30 studies found that “family routines and rituals are alive and well and are associated with marital satisfaction, adolescents’ sense of personal identity, children’s health, academic achievement, and stronger family relationships.”
What’s the difference between family rituals and family traditions?
There are many similarities between rituals and family traditions.
Personally, I tend to think of family traditions as something you do less often. (Such as baking Christmas cookies on December 24 or going to an Independence Day parade.)
In my mind, family traditions usually occur annually.
On the other hand, I view family rituals as something that happens very often, usually daily or weekly.
14 Family Rituals To Start
In our family, we have LOTS of rituals and traditions.
Here are some of our rituals and how we use them to help us stay close as a family.
1. The pit and the peak
Every night at dinner, we take turns doing the “pit and the peak.”
We go around the table and each person shares their “pit” (the worst part of their day) and their “peak” (the best part of their day).
Not only does this help us get an idea for what’s on our kids’ hearts, but it also helps everyone to understand that not every part of every day is going to be good or happy.
There are good moments and there are bad moments, and that’s okay.
2. We hold hands when we offer the mealtime blessing
My youngest daughter INSISTS that we hold hands when we say grace before meals.
3. After-dinner walks
Weather permitting, our family loves to take a stroll around the neighborhood right after dinner. Sometimes we ride bikes, but mostly we just walk. Not only is this good for exercise, but it also helps us to spend quality time together.
4. Evening car rides
At least once per week, we pile in the car and go for a drive.
This is how my husband and I find time to talk together without getting interrupted a million times.
It’s also fun to turn up the music and have an impromptu sing-along.
5. Morning hugs
The first thing I do every morning is to give each child a long squeeze.
(Let’s be honest, I did miss their cute faces overnight!)
I think it’s a great way to connect and a great start to our day.
6. Family supper night
On Wednesday nights, we have “family supper night.”
It’s not the only night of the week we eat dinner together, of course, but it’s a special supper.
We eat whatever the kids want (usually pizza).
That’s it! It sounds so simple, but every single week the kids look forward to Wednesdays.
7. Family movie night
I’ll be honest, we don’t do family movie nights as often as we’d like.
But we try to have them at least once every other month.
The kids take turns picking out the movie, and of course, there’s plenty of popcorn and snacks.
8. Family game night
If you know me, you know I LOVE playing games.
I’m SO excited that my big kids are finally old enough to play games now. Thankfully, my kids love playing games just as much as I do, so we try to do this at least once a month or so.
9. One-on-one time
I’m a strong believer in the importance of one-on-one time with each child.
Every single day I try to be a better mom and spend a few minutes with each kiddo, giving them my undivided attention.
My oldest likes to watch Fixer Upper with me. My middle likes to read or learn about extinct animals. And my youngest likes to play Peppa Pig.
We also use this time to read devotionals, Bible stories, or chapter books.
Spending quality time with them individually is a big part of how I stay close to them.
10. Parent-child dates
In addition to one-on-one time at home, we try to take our kids on mommy-daughter or daddy-son dates once a month or so.
Last week my son took me out for lunch at a local hot dog place.
It was so nice to have a meal with him one-on-one and talk about our favorite extinct animals.
11. Doing art together
I’ll be honest, I’m not very artistic, but my kids LOVE to draw and create.
Recently we’ve started a new ritual where we draw a picture together and color it after lunchtime.
For me, coloring is such a nice stress reliever. We have so much fun together.
(This is the book we use. It teaches you how to draw the pictures step-by-step and it’s awesome!)
12. Cooking with mom
Even though cooking with kids can be messy, baking lemon cookies or making dinner together is a fun way to connect with each other.
13. The “I love you squeeze”
Whenever I’m walking and holding hands with one of my kids, I try to remember to squeeze their hand three times as a secret “I love you” reminder.
14. Telling jokes
Our family loves to laugh and goof off.
We are all constantly making up new jokes and coming up with new ways to make each other smile. Laughing is a great way to bond.