Autumn Holiday Rituals that Nurture Family Connection

Extraordinary moments often masquerade as ordinary life. Parenting is tough, and so often we're just rushing against the clock to get our kids out the door in the morning, pick them up on time, get them through their homework and dinner, into the tub, into bed...so we can get up the next morning and do it all over again.

But it's a truism because it's true. These years pass more quickly than we can imagine, and when kids look back, these are the memories that will define family for them. Traditions can be an easy, meaningful way to take a breath during the rush and reconnect. They don't have to be a burden; you can simply choose a family activity to try, and then see if you want to make it into a family tradition. But just try one thing every season; life is busy enough already. Your good mood is what creates meaningful family connection, so drop the guilt and keep it simple.

In the northern hemisphere, it's Autumn. Most of us aren't celebrating the harvest. But as the dark comes earlier, we instinctively turn our focus inside, toward cooking wholesome food, lighting candles and creating a cozier home.

Would revitalizing a seasonal autumn tradition create a more cozy connection in your home? Here are a few ideas to get you started. You can pare them back and make them as simple as you want. The point is connection, not emulating Martha Stewart (she doesn't have children at home!). As long as there's laughter and hugs, you're on the right track.

  • Go for a drive to see the autumn foliage on the weekend before Halloween and pick up pumpkins to carve together. 
  • Take ten minutes with your children to record a "spooky" outgoing message on your answering machine.
  • Set aside time every weekend to help kids make their own Halloween costumes. Even five year olds can help you sew a seam on the machine or glue on ears. You'll save money, have a costume good enough to reuse, and think how proud he'll be! By the time he's nine, he'll be taking charge of making his own costume.
  • Divide your family into teams and see who can rake the biggest leaf pile. Don't forget jumping into them!
  • Have the kids pick the most beautiful leaves to iron in wax paper for fall window hangings or scrapbooks. (Put leaves between sheets of wax paper, cover with dish towel, iron on medium heat.)
  • Take the family apple picking. Make apple sauce together.
  • Start a family gratitude journal by asking everyone in the family to comment on what about your family life they were grateful for this week. On Thanksgiving morning, read the journal aloud.
  • It's easier than you'd think to keep your home full of delicious smells throughout the month by letting your children help you make fall treats: mulled apple cider with cinnamon, pumpkin bread, hot soup of all kinds. If your grocer stocks frozen dough, you might even bake bread. Or find an easy recipe that doesn't take much kneading and make your own pretzels.

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