The Importance of Family Traditions

Every summer, I would spend lazy days in my Nanna and Grandad Bill’s 70’s suburban house, chatting over their little white fence with the next door neighbour’s granddaughter sharing delicious homemade lemonade with a big dollop of vanilla ice-cream.  It was so much fun helping Nanna create delicious, stacked-high, sandwiches that we had to use a cocktail stick to keep upright!  These are memories that are firmly planted in my ‘happy place’ and somewhere I go to when things get a little too much!

I want my children to have plenty of ‘happy place’ memories to use when they need a boost and, I firmly believe that passing on family traditions allows a child to create these memories for themselves.

Now we are much more educated on health and nutrition, I have brought my own personal traditions up-to-date with healthier recipes to share with my children.  The message, however, is the same.  It is the importance of creating time to build happy memories where children learn to appreciate their own family culture.   All of which will help them become a successful adult!

Creating Family Traditions

Here are a few rules:

1

Same Time, Same Place

Try to carry out your tradition the same time each week / month / year. Children absolutely thrive on routine! For example, Friday night is pizza making night.
2

Support Network

Don’t be afraid to include other family members like aunts, uncles and cousins to build larger family values. By encouraging regular family gatherings, it can only add to your child's support network.
3

Be Happy

Make sure everyone in the family is happy. Creating positive memories does rely on the buy-in of everyone in the household! If you have a hormonal teenager, positive encouragement is the way to go.
4

Stay Healthy

Think about health and nutrition. With obesity and mental health issues on the increase in the UK it is important that your family traditions educate and positively encourage healthy living! If your tradition is cooking, then SPR Juniors have lots of healthy recipes for you to try!
5

Love, Love, Love

Love what you do. Creating a family tradition is all very well but, if you don't LOVE taking a walk on the beach or playing board games every Saturday, then it just won't work!
6

Take a Picture

Document it. You can do this by taking lots of pictures for your children to have when they are older or you could even create a beautiful memory book. The more you document your memories, the more your children will remember their 'happy places' and pass the tradition onto their children.

Saturday Kitchen

Giving your children quality attention is always a positive.  Spending time doing an activity together is extremely important.  We love a lazy Saturday morning making brunch for everyone before we head to the park.

Leave your devices in another room, pop the radio on and turn off the TV.  Think about how good it feels for your child to be in charge of creating their own food masterpiece.  Try making a healthy smoothie, egg and soldiers or something even more delicious like homemade pancakes drizzled with honey and topped with the fruit of their choice.

Top Tip:  Praise is very important.  Expand your praise by describing what they have done well.  By labelling the praise it helps your child learn about positive behaviours.  For example, use “You are being so careful with that knife, well done”.  Rather than just “well done”.

Talk Day Tuesday

This is all about providing a platform for your children to communicate with you, covering both their highs and their lows.  It doesn’t have to be every week.  You could do it once a month.  The principle is you sit and have dinner as a family and a wooden spoon is placed in the middle of the table.   You can only talk when you are holding the spoon!  This tactic ensures everyone is listening!

Games Night

By this we do not mean tech where everyone has a controller in their hand and has to stare at a screen to play.  This is about creating a positive experience for your child or children to learn about winning and losing while having lots of fun.  Board games are perfect for this tradition and help parents reduce their child’s screen time!

Top Tip: Always rotate the board game to ensure everyone playing has fun.  If sharing causes arguments, or one child always wants the same game, create a weekly rota together so all the children know which game they are going to play before they sit down!  Display the rota in the kitchen with your children’s reward chart to keep everyone focused!

A Holiday Tradition

Not everyone can afford a holiday each year.  However, having a holiday tradition doesn’t have to break the bank.  My children love their annual trip to Walton-on-the-Naze. We book the same beach hut with friends every year.  The children know how the day is going to go from playing on the beach to heading off to the amusements for the afternoon then picking up fish and chips to have in our little beach hut before we head home.  Each year it becomes more ingrained in their happy memories box.

Birthday Privileges

Each year, on their birthday, provide them with a new privilege or responsibility.  It might be a new chore in exchange for pocket money or a new privilege like making their own breakfast or opening their first bank account.  Pop the privilege in their birthday card.  Once they have had this for a few years running they will expect it every year!  A fun way to let your children understand they are growing up and for you, as a parent, to let them learn how to cope as they grow.

child with piggy bank

Cooking Dinner once a Week

Eating as a family is an opportunity in itself to pass down family traditions through family recipes.  You can also help your children find new, seasonal healthy and nutritious recipes to add to your repertoire and family cookbook.  Cooking together avoids the convenience of processed food and is a great way to lead by example and help them buy into a culture of wellness.  It also teaches the importance of staying safe while cooking.  From helping them to hold kitchen tools safely, to how to use the oven, and how to hold a hot pan.

Top Tip: Stick to your child’s ability.  Your child may not be ready to sauté vegetables but they can rinse fruits or tear salad leaves.

Our Favourite SPR Junior Recipes

As part of the SPR Junior Programme, we provide Primary Schools that have signed up to our 39 week programme, weekly recipes that they then share with the children’s parents through their newsletter.

Our recipes are delicious, child-friendly, and designed to be easy and fun to prepare with, or for your child.

Why not try preparing one of our favourites this weekend with your children?

Turkey Fajitas

These are perfect recipes to start your Saturday Kitchen tradition: