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Why creating family rituals is important

Family rituals can be as simple as reading a bedtime story together or organising family boardgame evenings. Here we share some ideas on how to create meaningful family rituals and talk about why they are an important bonding tool.

NEWS 19 June 2023

Do you have certain rituals and traditions that bring your family together during a busy week? From something as simple as making dinner together to traditions that involve a little more organisation and forward planning—whatever your family’s rituals might be, they matter.

A 50-year review of research on the importance of family routines and rituals by the American Psychological Association found that rituals provide reassuring continuity for children and young people. The familiarity, regularity and comfort of well-worn family rituals also bring a sense of stability during times of stress or change., the Australian parenting website, also emphasises the importance of family rituals as a way of bonding together and saying ‘this is who we are and what we value’. Rituals – no matter how trivial they might seem – provide children with security, identity and belonging while building memories that can be shared for the rest of a child’s life. They also cement family connections.

However, in a busy household, finding time for rituals can sometimes take a back seat to work, chores, homework, after school sport or music practice and catching up with Netflix and friends.

“I think one of the upsides of the pandemic was that people stopped being as busy. Activities like swimming lessons, music practice and sport stopped and families had more time to pause, connect and to come up with some creative ways to spend time together”
Grenville Green, Deputy Principal, Junior School

“COVID forced us to slow down and realise that life is short, our children grow up very quickly and we don’t want to miss out on the important things in life, which are often the simple things like spending time together as a family.”

Jane Gibbs, Deputy Principal, says rituals can be created and celebrated at every age and stage of a child’s life and they don’t have to involve spending money.

“It’s the time you put in to creating and sharing those rituals with your children that matter. It’s not about what you spend and where you take children,” says Jane.

“Finding time isn’t always easy – there is always more work or ironing to be done – but if we recognise that sharing family rituals together makes a contribution to our family’s welfare then it makes it easier to prioritise the time.”

If you need some inspiration to introduce some new family rituals, you can try some of these:

10 Family Ritual Ideas:

  1. Think flexibly to incorporate family rituals into chores that need to get done. Perhaps have one or two nights a week when you cook dinner together, each taking turns to choose the menu. You can also take turns to choose a topic of the week to debate over dinner.
  2. If you’re driving children and teenagers to and from after school activities, make that time in the car a phone-free zone when you catch up on what has happened that day and what you have coming up in the next day or so. If children know that you will always set aside time to listen to them properly and to be present, they will be more likely to come to you when they need to discuss an issue that is worrying them.
  3. For younger children, have a bedtime ritual that includes reading a bedtime story together each night.
  4. After school, have a night every week or two when you go to the library together, go for a hot chocolate or buy fish and chips and eat them at the park or at the beach on sunny days.
  5. Take the dog for a walk together or, after school and homework are done, play footy in the backyard or build something together with LEGO for 15 minutes.
  6. Have a regular boardgame night or movie night with popcorn. Or choose a new Netflix series that you can all enjoy and watch it together one episode at a time.
  7. For family birthdays, choose and bake a birthday cake together. You can do the same for Christmas and Easter and other religious and cultural celebrations within your family. Choose a cake or dish and prepare it together.
  8. During holiday time, create your own family Olympics. Each family member can choose an activity or sport that they like to play eg mini-golf, netball, ten pin bowling. Everyone takes part in those activities and is awarded first, second or third place. At the end of all the activities, whoever has scored highest overall is the champion.
  9. If you’re a footy loving family, watch the game together on TV at the weekend while having a hot pie.
  10. Instead of dropping children off to Saturday morning sport or to their music or dance lesson, make it a ritual to stay and watch so you can talk about their achievements and progress during the drive home.
“Making family rituals involves a commitment from both sides – parents and children. We all get caught up in the different things we have to do but establishing time together, whatever that looks like for your family, and being present creates moments that children remember”
Jane Gibbs, Deputy Principal

Wellbeing webinar

Watch our recent myWellbeing webinar on 'Why creating family rituals is important'.

This event was aimed to explore the importance of how family rituals hold immense significance in today's fast-paced world, as they strengthen bonds, create lasting memories, and provide a sense of belonging.

Hosted by Diane Furusho, Deputy Principal Student Wellbeing, Jane Gibbs Deputy Principal, and Grenville Green, Deputy Principal (Junior School), the panel shared their expertise and practical strategies for what family rituals might look like and how they positively impact our lives.

Wellebing Webinar