• Five Routines and Rituals to Build Family Connections

    family-ritualsWe are now officially in fall. We said goodbye to the warm days of summer, and bathing suits are going back in the bottom of the drawer until next year. Autumn is a time when many are back to school, back to work, and life takes on a more serious tone. We begrudgingly fall back into more structured daily routines. However, not all routines have to be work. Enjoyable routines can be grounding for all family members. These consistent family rituals can help to create positive memories for children, teens and adults.

    Families can strengthen their bonds and communication by engaging in the following rituals:

    1. Family Mealtimes promote closeness and connection with others. Making dinner together, setting the table together and sharing a meal together create time each day to reconnect with one another. It can be a chance to talk about the highs and lows of the day and share thoughts and feelings about any challenges. Mealtimes should be a T.V., phone, texting and distraction free zone.
    1. Bedtime can be a time for children and caregivers to have a moment to share something that is important. By creating a safe environment during bedtime, children can reflect on their day and be reassured. Reading a book, prayers, a song or a cherished phrase can make this a sacred time for both child and adult. Reassuring a child of their strengths before bed will help to build confidence and self esteem.
    1. Weekend Routines such as making pancakes on Sunday morning, doing chores together, baking cookies and other fun activities allow family members to be in the moment and enjoy simple tasks together. Designating a movie night in which each family member picks a movie each weekend allows for discussion after the show is over.
    1. Family Game Night can bring family of all ages together. Allow each child to take turns picking the game. Creating a special snack to go with the games can add to the fun together. Many families have special card games that they enjoy playing when they are together. Encourage children to given the games a special and meaningful name to the game.
    1. I Am Grateful For… Have a dedicated area in the home such as the refrigerator door, cabinet door or bulletin board where children and adults can write something that they are grateful for. Read the answers at dinner or snack time when everyone is together.

    Ask the children what is important to them and what would they like to have as a family ritual. You may be surprised what they say.

    Written by Jennifer Eckert, LICSW and founder of Boston Post Adoption Resources