Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Happy Habits.

A few months ago I read the Book 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families, by Stephen Covey. I won't do a review of all the habits here; only one that I found to be worth noting on right now, and that is the need for families to establish traditions.

We all think of traditions as what we do on Christmas Eve, or an annual summer picnic, but I liked what Covey said about making the seemingly mundane a tradition. Some families have a family game night, or a movie night. The author wrote that for some families, a weekly trip to a bagel shop, or making a special meal is a great tradition.

My college roommate had a family in the double-digits, and their lives amazed me. They all got to Mass at 6:30am every morning and the whole family sat down for an actual breakfast afterward before dad went to work. This same family had a Friday night tradition of ordering pizza and watching old black and white films, and a Saturday tradition of date night for mom and dad. I wish I could be a fly on the wall in their home now as a mother instead of as a naive college student.

We are still working on traditions in our male-dominated domain. Our boys are just getting to the ages that they are able to remember birthdays and holidays of previous years, and are able to expect a routine. We are trying to establish their memories rooted in the traditions we are creating with the hopes of being a strong and effective family :-) .

One of our mundane, but special, traditions are our Saturday mornings. We call them "lazy Saturdays." Instead of rushing to get dressed, fed, and on to our day, we take it slow. Mark and I take the coffee carafe in to the living room and visit with each other while the kids sit and listen or play cars at our feet. It's so small, yet, we've come to expect that on most Saturdays, before 10am is sacred time for our family. It's the first time in the busy week that we are all able to sit together and not be thinking about washing dinner dishes, giving evening baths, or preparing for the next day's work.

And while the above tradition is special to us, as I thought about other traditions we have, like book reading, family prayer, Mass and brunch on Sundays, having music in the background of our days, and making the effort to include our family for learning experiences, while they aren't huge and elaborate, Covey says that they make a huge impact on thriving families. That is my hope. (*EDITED TO ADD: the first sentence of this paragraph has 63 words in it. I usually blog early in the morning. Have I mentioned I'm a morning person and have the IQ of lawn furniture after 8pm? Forgive me, it's late.)

I am curious to hear about the small, but special traditions that other families keep. Going out to lunch? Family bike rides? Campfires? Cooking together? I love all of it, and hope that we can all find Grace in the day-to-day.


Anonymous said...

Hey Mal. One of ours is Friday night "Family movie night" and we have a song we sing...wish you could hear it but it is simple and goes "Family Movie Night, Family Movie night!" Ha, so blah on here but when they sing it it's a hoot! If ben happens to be out of town that week, its okay, we make it "girl movie night"...but we pick a movie and watch it. This has been HUGE for me b/c i tend to "need" to clean and can't sit still. It's an opportunity for me to know that i am part of the family after all, so my butt will be on the couch, with popcorn bowl for each child, and some water..occasionally we will give them a few "haribo" gummy bears! We also have lazy sunday moring..sounds like your sat...and we have a big breakfast (not a bagel or cereal, but eggs/bacon/biscuit) and family prayer time where ben reads the gospel for the day. As the kids get older, this is getting doesn't last long, but they know to expect it...and to not complain ;)

Another tradition, is if we are going to go on a fun family outing (bike ride, park, zoo, etc) there will be the "20 minutes of glory" where ben calls out fun commands and the kids get the house in order before we we can come home to nap and clean!


Mallory said...

That's awesome, Maria, thank you for sharing!

We haven't done official movie nights, but I like your reasoning for them. I hardly ever "sit" for a movie, just because I see what needs to be done around me. I think you have something there about just being present to one another and enjoying the snuggles and popcorn.

I REALLY like your tradition of getting the house clean BEFORE leaving for somewhere. That must save so much stress when walking through the door after a long trip out. Awesome!

Theresa said...

Oh, the simple things. I love this post because I've come to thoroughly enjoy our routine moments.
*bedtime prayers and "thank you Jesus for...."

*as the kids are being tucked into bed for naps or bedtime we say "no bad dream prayers". it's a simple and quick thing but they can't seem to doze off until they hear it.

*almost every weekend we have a homemade pizza night with a movie. we all LOVE this

*on Sundays that John is not working we go out to a little local restaurant for breakfast after Mass. the kids have really come to enjoy this and they actually behave quite well.

*coffee time. john and i chat over coffee every single day. even if we have to get up super early, we make it work because we both enjoy the quiet peacefulness of the morning. it seems to get the day off on a good start....most days.

*since we got married, we very very rarely go to bed alone. when john is on day shifts and/or not working, we make sure we go to bed the same time whether both of us are tired or not. i usually sit up and read in bed for a little while if my mind hasn't quite slowed down. but this has been a HUGE thing for us.

I suppose there are other things, but these are the dailies that happen 95% of the time and we all have come to expect/enjoy/appreciate them.
I love the lazy Saturdays. when john is working that is how my weekends are. but when he's home he usually wants to keep busy and do things. OH....I forgot a BIG one.

*on john's days off HE makes breakfast....always! usually eggs and bacon or omelets or something like that. but he likes doing it, the kids love it, and of course i very much appreciate just sitting and watching with my cup of coffee.

Mallory said...

Theresa, I love how you and John collaborate on the "little" things you do, and I LOVE that he cooks for you!

I think there is definitely something to be said about the traditions of enjoying special food with one another, whether it be fancy or soup on Fridays. No wonder there is such significance in our faith with "breaking bread" with one another. It is a special thing!

Lorrene said...

A couple of our little traditions I can share:

Full moon walks - we hope for a clear night around the time of a full moon and go for a short walk together before the kids' bedtime. In the winter it is wonderful because of the light reflecting off the snow (mind you, not this year); we dance and skip and make moonshadows - no flashlights allowed! Makes the kids pay attention to the moon cycle a bit more in anticipation of our next moon walk.

Donut shop with Dad - (sometimes Mom tags along too) Daddy takes the kids out to the donut shop on a weekend morning, to give Mom some time at home alone.

Weekend bath in MOMMY'S TUB - this is a big deal because my tub is a big jacuzzi tub (although we've never turned the jets on for them) but they love having more room, piling all their toys in Mom's tub and soaking for a little extra time.

I love hearing about family traditions; it inspires me to create more of our own!

Erin said...

After some consideration ;-) Our “couple” traditions mostly involve TV (a little embarrassing). We have our Christmas letter with It’s a Wonderful Life each year, also a marathon of all 9 Thanksgiving episodes of FRIENDS on turkey day, Groundhog’s Day with Bill Murray each February, and we fix a Christmas jigsaw puzzle each year. We also take an extra long Memorial Day weekend each year to celebrate our anniversary and get our garage sale shopping on!

Our daily routines/traditions: Justin is the bath man. I never quite got over my fear of giving newborn Claire that very first bath (I remember telling Justin, “I can’t handle this, she’s like a greasy little frog”) Anyway, the girls know if Daddy isn’t home on bath night, they are heading for the shower! Neither one of them go to sleep without me singing “The Jesus Song” (Just a Closer Walk with Thee). Saturdays they watch cartoons in bed with Daddy while I make a big breakfast.

Seasonal treats: boat rides to pick up pizza in the summer, strawberry picking (followed by a strawberry lemonade stand for the kids), driving around looking at Christmas lights…

mark said...

Lorrene, I love the Moonwalk idea! Outside traditions are so memorable, and I've never thought to do that. And, the traditions with "just dad" sound really wonderful, too. When Mark takes the kids out, it's usually so I can clean the house, but hey, at least the kids are having fun!

Erin, welcome to the "hay pen," ;-). Actually, when I was writing this post, I was thinking of the tried and true things you ALWAYS do, like your Christmas letter and jigsaw puzzles, bath night, etc. I'm more convinced now that it's the small things that are the most important to us.

Thank you for your comments, everyone! I'm really glad that you've shared a bit into what makes your family able to grow together! We were busy this weekend and I wasn't able to have our "Lazy Saturday," so I'm hurtin' pretty bad on this exhausting Monday, but looking forward to our next weekend :-) .

mark said...

(Mallory, btw...not Mark)