“Loving, healthy RITUALS foster the development of loving, emotionally healthy children…. RITUALS are the GLUE that holds the MOSAIC OF LOVE together.” (Becky Bailey)
Happy Fall, everyone! This is my favorite season for the crisp, cool days that refresh my spirit, the chance to be outside in nature again (now that the temperature in Dallas has dropped below 100%), the festive holidays, the sense of new beginnings and new opportunities with back-to-school and new classes, and there’s just something about it that inspires me to create meaningful traditions and RITUALS for my own little family. A ritual is simply a special way of doing things that’s anticipated and cherished by the members of your family. They can be ways of connecting at bedtime, or seasonal events that you put down on your family calendar every year. I know you’re busy with soccer practice, school events, birthday parties, but stop and consider the time you’ve set aside for connecting with your family. You might have to miss a game or a PTA event, skip church or hide a party invitation, but the world will keep turning, and your family will make meaningful memories. Isn’t that what it’s all about?
In one of my Parent with Purpose classes called “The 3 R’s: Using Routine, Repetition, and Rituals to Strengthen Brain and Family Connections” I talk about the power of rituals to strengthen the parent-child bond, strengthen a child’s sense of self and family identity, strengthen your child’s resilience and help to hold your family together through changes and difficult times. Rituals are crucial for a child’s healthy development, and NOW is the right time to start being intentional about them in your family. Besides, I think it is so much fun to sit down with your parenting partner and/ or your kids (depending on how old they are) to brainstorm the rituals and traditions that you want to establish for YOUR family, and exciting to think about the memories you will make together in years to come. One important trick for making them special rituals:
- Name it and Claim it! Literally say, “In our family, we go camping every fall.” or “In our family, we like to go on a ‘Fall Family Picnic‘” to celebrate the season. Take pride in reserving that family time on your calendar together.
Here are 10 FALL RITUALS on the Manders Family calendar:
1. Fall Family Picnic - Last year we celebrated the first day of fall with a picnic at the Dallas Arboretum after school. Daddy was off, and looked forward to it all week! This year we joined a few other families at “The Lakes” with a “Play-date with Purpose”: feeding ducks and fish, singing fall songs, going on a “Noticing Nature” walk, sharing a picnic.
2. Fall Family Camping Trip - The weekend of Oct. 27-28, we’ll join my parents and a few church friends for our annual trip to Camp Gilmont in East Texas. Such a great time to just BE with each other in nature, sitting under the pine trees, napping in the hammock, working together to put up the tent, prepare meals and cleanup, canoeing on the pond, hiking in the woods. Come join us! (There are potties, showers, and even electrical outlets!) This is a ritual that I grew up experiencing as a child, and it’s so meaningful to pass it along.
3. Family Raking Day - We did this for the first time when Ellie was a baby at our new house, and it was so much fun! I wore Ellie in the Baby Ergo on my back, and MJ helped with his own little rake. And of course, we did lots of jumping and playing in the piles, too!
4. Make a homemade Apple Pie, and even pick your own apples! Sometimes we like to make our pie a little early in memory of my Gigidad on his birthday (Sept. 17th). This activity goes along great with a favorite “fall” book, apple picking in DFW area
5. Go to a Pumpkin Patch - maybe once for pictures, and again for fun! (In other words, don’t just spend all your efforts trying to capture the perfect shot, but actually put yourself in the frame and enjoy the moment with your family. I see lots of frustrated moms and impatient children every year at the Arboretum’s fun pumpkin patch caught in this photo-op battle. I like to take my kids several times so we can put the camera away and just enjoy our time together – climbing the pumpkins, going through the hay maze, stacking the pumpkins into pumpkin-people, etc…) Miss Lisa does Kindermusik during Autumn at the Arboretum on Mondays and Tuesdays.
6. Carve a Jack-o-lantern together. Let the kids get ooey-gooey, icky-sticky. Let them help design it, scoop it out, name it, all of the above. YOU hold the knife… I let Daddy do that part.
7. Collect Candy for a cause. On Halloween, why not teach your kids the value of sharing and keeping staying healthy by limiting their own candy intake, and passing along some of the goods….last year our dentist collected candy to send to the troops. Check out how to get your family involved in trick-or-treating for UNICEF. Other ideas…donating candy
8. Give Back together at Thanksgiving. Create a “Give Thanks” basket full of home-made goodies and surprises for someone that your family is especially thankful for or for someone who needs a lift. Give back by participating in the local Turkey Trot www.thetrot.org on Thanksgiving morning to raise money for YMCA programs. Consider delivering meals as a family with Meals on Wheels (reserve your route ASAP as this is a popular opportunity). Or mark your calendars for Saturday morning, Nov. 17th, National Volunteer Day, and sign up for an hour of giving back around the city in “The Big Give” with “Wee Volunteer” of Dallas.
9. Fall Family Fair Day! Of course, it’s much more fun to go on a weekday if you can, but a Sunday morning works well, too. Don’t try to cram it all in, but let everyone pick one thing they definitely want to see or do ahead of time. Last year I bought season passes for me and the kids, and we went several times for just a couple of hours, to focus on one thing at a time like the animals, the cooking area, the farm area, etc. We made some great memories! Check out details for the season pass and fair info.
10. Trip to see the grandparents at the Santa Maria Ranch in Miami, OK. This year the kids will go without us as I will be recovering from my hip surgery. But fall is always a fun time to go to the ranch, roast hot dogs on a camp fire, ride in the tractor to check the cattle, hike down to the pond, play at the “Rocket Ship” park in town where Daddy used to play.
Let me know…what are some of your favorite fall family rituals? Special ways of connecting this season? Please share your ideas!