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Friday, November 20, 2009

Are Your Traditions Making YOU Happy?

I think traditions start because we want our kids to have moments to remember. Something we do every year, so that we will feel connected as a family. We have a couple of traditions that I love.

*In October we go to our favorite pumpkin patch to walk the hay maze, pick the pumpkins, go home and carve them.


*In December we head up into the woods to cut down our Christmas tree together. Now the kids can carry the tree to the car all by themselves. Times have changed! When we get home I string the lights, and the kids decorate it. Then we have hot cider and read our favorite Christmas books by the fire.
(We found the perfect tree!)

*Every night when I put the kids to bed I put scented lotion on their arms and pillow. It started one night when my son said he loved how I smelled. That night, 5 years ago, a tradition was born that all three kids love. A little bit of Mama before they close their eyes and go to sleep.

In the past, traditions drove me to...perfectionism. I wanted the next time to be just as fabulous as the time previous...and it usually wasn't. Then I felt angry that I put all that effort into something, and theeeeeeeey didn't appreciate it the way I wanted them to. Heck...I couldn't enjoy it either because I was so exhausted.


What our kids really enjoy is experiencing new things. If we tried to recreate a moment from the previous year, it was sure to fall short of our expectations. So, that's when I let go of finding life long traditions. During the year as moments present themselves I find easy ways to celebrate them. No big wind up, no weeks of planning, just spontaneous, simple fun. I think the kids like having a mommy that isn't stressed out by the "great time" we are trying to have!

Now, when I'm getting ready to do something special for my family I ask myself if I'm enjoying the preparation and the anticipated outcome. If the answer is no...I switch gears...simplify...and go about my work so much more joyfully.

I'm giving you permission today to think about the traditions that you put so much of your energy into during the year. Does it make YOU happy? Does it rob you or fill you with joy as you are creating the moment? Is it really that meaningful to them, or is it just expected? Is it time to try something new? Whatever the answer is for you and your family...I hope this post affirms your efforts, or bring clarity to help you build an even stronger bond with your loved ones.

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39 comments:

Funny in my mind said...

Those are beautiful photos!

Willoughby said...

Great point to bring up! We have traditions that the whole family enjoys, like going to the same farm to cut down our Christmas tree every year. Other traditions became more of a chore, like trying to carve 20 (yes, 20) pumpkins for every Halloween. When we scaled back to five or six, I didn't feel pressured to spend so much time trying to live up to the previous year.

MJ said...

Thank you for the reminder as we get closer to the holidays (why does it seem like the majority of the traditions revolve around them?)
I agree, why have a tradition if you don't truly enjoy it, because even if you "fake" it your mood will in the long run effect your family also.
Have a wonderful weekend!
MJ

Ms Bibi said...

You can say we have some traditions. I always though of them as rituals, but I like traditions much better.

Funny about the lotion....I spray Lavender on my kids pillows and in the air before they go to bed. I started doing it in my own room about 3 years ago and they asked me for the nice smell. So now I do it for them every night.

We also have couple traditions that totally stress me out and thinking about it now...it's just silly.

Tiffany said...

we don't really have traditions going--yet. the kids are so small they don't know if they're coming or going. and i can honestly say, all it does is wear me out or make me feel bad that we didn't get to do something. so now, if we make it to the pumpkin patch, we make it. if not, there's always next year. i think the babes have just as much fun going to a park on a random saturday. we all enjoy ourselves and i need to remember that that is the real goal.

Frau said...

We have had to learn to be flexible with out traditions as our life changes. I try not to set myself up for disappointments.

Lee the Hot Flash Queen said...

We just go with the flow...it works for us as a family!

Sue (Someone's Mom) said...

One of our favorite traditions was taking the kids to Chicago the weekend after Thanksgiving to see the store windows, start shopping and get "in the mood" for the holiday season. We all loved it.

The one downside I am finding about blogging is that as I'm reading so many blogs about what people are doing as families, things we used to do...my nest is feeling more empty than usual. I don't think I've been this melancholy about the holidays since ours took such a change a couple years ago (when my daughter moved to Orlando at 23). I know it is because as I read about the big Thanksgiving dinners and the Christmas plans...mine have gotten so screwy that I'm really having to remind myself that things change with time.

I think sometimes as mothers we actually do all those traditions as much for ourselves. The kids move on and create their own traditions and we have to adapt and learn to enjoy ourselves in spite of.

So, while I'm at the pool on Christmas Day...with my daughter, my parents and Mickey Mouse...I enjoy the sunshine instead of the snow, the restaurant meal instead of the homemade and realize that I just can't be with my son, grandbabies and my sister's family as well as with my daughter and parents. It can't be done...so, we go to the sunshine and warm temps!

Kids grow up...life goes on...mother's still feel as if they should be able to be everywhere at once.

Why do I always write a book on your posts?

Allyson said...

you have such a beautiful family! i love all your traditions, especially the lotion one. very cool and very special.

happy friday to you!

Cynthia@RunningWithLetters said...

Well said! Traditions can be wonderful, but not if we are slaves top them. The flexibility you expressed allows room to enjoy familiar events, develop new traditions or to experience once in a lifetime moments. It seems a very healthy approach to take into the holiday season.

Purple Flowers said...

I found my stressor to be on Thanksgiving, making sure we had enough food to feed an army. Then one year I realized we had way too many leftovers (including sending family home w/many dishes). So, now what I do is scale back the menu and make enough plus some for leftovers for everyone. Looking back, we didn't need every vegetable that ever existed, and it was okay if I didn't make everything from scratch. I feel much better now, and I enjoy the holiday so much more! :)

marymac said...

well HOWDY there! THANKS for stopping by Pajamas and Coffee today and I WILL give chicken nuggets a big kiss for sending you- she rocks; we were just at a purse party together last night!
Glad you enjoyed the Suburban Housewife video even with all the cussing! haha
Hope you can scootch by again one day- I LOVE YOUR BLOG DESIGN and your whole vlogging thingy -- do you have to wear makeup for that?!?
Thanks again for the shout-out!

Menopausal New Mom said...

What a thought provoking post. I hadn't actually thought about the pressure we put on ourselves to try to recreate that perfect occasion from the previous year. Yes, I think being spontaneous is definitely for the better, no expectations to be let down. I love how your massage your kids at bed time. Now that is something worth repeating!

Erin said...

We have a few traditions, but I try not to get too overwhelmed if things don't turn out exactly like I want...the girls are still young, so we have time to work on it.

I love looking at all of your pictures!

Tattoos and Teething Rings said...

We're pretty loose with our traditions; if everyone doesn't feel like doing something we skip it.

ShellyInOz said...

We have only a few traditions, but I think that even if the kids don't seem to appreciate them now, in years to come, they will look back and pull out a few and start them up with their own kids.

That is how Pancake Sunday started in our house. I loved the pancakes Dad used to make when I was a girl, but didn't realise what a really great thing it was until I had kids of my own.

Thanks for stopping by Tropical Mum the other day. Come have a look at my new masthead. And yes, I took all the photos myself.

Seriously Why Can't I? said...

I am trying the laid back approach as well, and letting the kids start to determine our routines and traditions. Mostly because my kids make liars of me all the time. If I say was to say we have a tradition eating Prime rib for dinner each Christmas Eve, my kids will remember the one year we had the Ultimate Chinese Buffet because we locked ourselves out of our house.

Thanks for stopping by, oh, and my 4th grader, is a lot like your 6th grader, getting any kind of emotion out of her is impossible.

Cameron said...

what a great post, and such great points. I feel like I have been bouncing around and moving so often since I was 17 that there aren't really any traditions every year...there were when i was growing up, but for us, every year is slightly different EXCEPT that there are always our favorite desserts we will make no matter where we are living. But I think your approach is very very smart. thank you!
Cameron
www.conquerthemonkey.com

Neva said...

I love those traditions, especially rubbing lotion into your kids at night.

ScoMan said...

I can only think of two traditions I have.

I don't walk to work on Fridays.

I always take off the Friday before Bathurst (a car race in Australia)

Not exciting traditions, I admit. But they provide some sense of routine at least.

As you said, spontaneity is often more fun. If you plan for weeks a big annual tradition, by the time it comes you're tired from the build up and it rarely lives up to how you planned it.

Holly said...

I've tried to create traditions here. Now that we don;t leave near any family, I find them even more important.

We always go to a corn maze in the Fall and of course a pumpkin patch.

Strawberry picking on Mothers Day (we stole that one from Rook No 17)

Santa brings the kids a treasure map (I'll be blogging about hat early next week)

On b'days - we get to pick our favorite dessert. Joe always has an ice cream cake on the real b'day

We have never tried the tree cutting...maybe this year?

Kristin said...

There are certain traditions I can't give up. Christmas movies with my Mom and sis on Christmas Eve is a must do!

Controlling My Chaos said...

What a timely post. So often I DO break my neck trying to keep up the traditions. It's even more difficult now that I'm back at work.

My name is PJ. said...

Holly, I know I'm repeating myself, but I love it when you write your posts. You have a talent for writing AND something worthwhile to say all the time. It shouldn't be denied.

I love traditions, but I learned, early on that it's wise to stay flexible; when life circumstances change, it's sometimes fun/healthy/easier to change things up a lot. Of course, the first time it happened, I was pulled silently kicking and screaming from the 'old' way... ;)

Matty said...

Personal birthday parties for us. Just the immediate family gets together. The special one gets to have the dinner and dessert of their choice, followed by singing Happy Birthday, and gifts.

At Christmas, everyone goes to pick out a tree, and everyone helps decorate it.

Nice post idea.

Stephanie Faris said...

I don't have children, just a semi-stepdaughter, but when I think back to my childhood, those traditions are what I remember most. They make me smile. You do remember the times you experienced new things, but what you cherish are the familiar things...those things brought security.

Our one year with a live Christmas tree, though, was not a pleasant one. We spent the week of Christmas vacuuming up pine needles and watching our tree dry out. I've done an artificial tree since, but I understand the allure of a real one.

JennyMac said...

I love holiday traditions...we had so many great ones growing up and I miss them when I am not back in Seattle with my family. We are starting new things with MiniMac and I hope he loves them the way I did. One year my Mom wanted to change our Christmas dinner menu..she had three adults basically protest (her children) and she had no idea how much we loved that exact dinner every year. Lasagna! Non traditional but our tradition.

JennyMac said...

PS: AWESOME family pics!

Midday Escapades said...

I really appreciate this reminder. You are so right about not trying to be perfect with traditions. I love your nightly scented lotion tradition.

Heather of the EO said...

What a great post. Something to think on indeed. I love that you do that lotion thing, it just melts my heart.

Martinis or Diaper Genies? said...

with a new house, no kids and anew marriage we really don't have any YET. Except maybe for giving me amazing presents for mybirthday. that's a good one.

Eva Gallant said...

Great post and beautiful family!

Just stopped by in a roundabout way from SITS to say hi; hope you'll do the same.

Kathy said...

Thanks for sharing! I do enjoy all the things that I have done for the family. They all have so much more meaning now that a few are not here all the time. :(

Raoulysgirl said...

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elvira pajarola said...

BRAVISSIMA....Holly, I just love your post....!
I am certain about that kids do love the spontaneously way of creating anything, from a simple thing all of the family did together to an unexpected short afternoon spend together in family.
My sons let me know once :" Mamy, lets do this (a ride with the mountainbikes in the woods with some sandwiches in the backpack)every year at the same day; ok? "
...a sort of their invented traditional-bikeride-with sandwiches).....
..i believe kids just love most simple things but they adore any moment we dedicate to them.

ciao elvira

Tracey - Just Another Mommy Blog said...

The best times in my family are when we have nothing planned, but fun things happen anyways. Those are the days I seem to treasure the most.

The girl with the flour in her hair said...

I like this...I've actually broken many of our family traditions, just because they weren't making me happy. I hurt some people...namely my mom...but sometimes, it's time to move on. Sometimes it's hard to see that, but it's always such a release.

Tater Tot Mom said...

What a beautiful family and a fabulous post! I agree that trying to make traditions perfect makes them so not perfect that they become meaningless. The best times I think are those spontaneous things!

prashant said...

Have a wonderful weekend!


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