Why We Love Traditions & Routines (and 3 Keys for Making Them for Your Family)

  by Andrew Wolgemuth

While spontaneity and unexpected adventures are often a fun part of childhood (and – thus – good tools to have in your dadcraft kit), kids also relish traditions and routine. There’s something grounding about familiar patterns and regular events.

I’m not talking about humdrum activities (though the nightly bath or the pre-bed tooth-brushing certainly have their place). Rather, I have in mind simple, special things that uniquely mark a day and that we all look forward to. In the best traditions and routine, there’s both the fun of the thing itself and the building anticipation that leads up to that thing. These can either happen fairly frequently or just once a year or be based on something other than the calendar.

Mark Days of the Week

A couple of traditions from childhood have placed themselves in my memory as events that happened on a weekly basis: Friday Night Pizza (and most often “pizza, pizza”) and church on Sundays. I’m sure neither actually occurred absolutely and without fail, but they’re implanted in my memory as if they did. The school week was finished…pizza night. The new week is beginning…church. Both were anticipated, both were grounding, and both were good.

Friday Night Pizza isn’t yet a thing in my household, but we do find grounding and goodness in weekly church attendance (though we’ve shifted from Sunday morning to Saturday evening). Our weekly routine also includes Pancake Day (that’s breakfast on Saturday, sometimes with a pancake pen assist, often with kids pitching in on the cooking process, and nearly always with our favorite from-scratch pancake recipe) and Waffle Day (this is Sunday breakfast…Saturday night church yields certain scheduling benefits; the light, fluffy waffle recipe here bakes to perfection in one minute and 50 seconds with this puppy).

Pretty simple, but invariably tasty and fun. Toward the end of a school week/work week, it’s not uncommon to be asked, “Dad…when’s Pancake Day?” When I can answer, “It’s tomorrow!” I’m not sure if the question asker or answerer is more excited.

Mark Special Days of the Year

The further I go into fatherhood, the more I find the cliché “They grow up so quickly…” to be true. The laps around the sun (speaking of clichés) seem to go faster and faster, but marking certain days helps ensure that we’re recognizing the progress and celebrating the journey.

The list of potential annual traditions is endless, of course, but some good events to consider include…

Holidays – Perhaps on the weekend after Thanksgiving the family finds a Christmas tree. Or the birthday kid (or adult) gets to pick the breakfast food on their big day.

Milestones – Maybe the completion of a school year is celebrated with ice cream sundaes?

Seasons – Perhaps there’s a camping adventure each summer or rituals to mark the start of the best sport of them all.

“If this, then that…”

Finally, I’ve found that some anticipated traditions are built around where we are or what we’re doing.

For instance, when it’s a movie night, you can bet the Whirly Pop has been doing its thing and popcorn is being devoured. And when we’re roadtripping, we’re likely listening to some audiobooks and passing around some candy.

If this, then that. Nothing too crazy or extravagant, but traditions and routines that are breaks from the normal and that also provide grounding, goodness, and fun for the whole crew.


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Photo by Alan Hardman on Unsplash