Family Fun and Traditions
I have 3 sons and my oldest has autism, so I had to find ways for everyone to enjoy doing things together. We needed a common denominator activity for everyone, like baking.
When I was a child, my siblings and I would go shopping in mom's closet. My mother would buy gifts for the whole family at an after Christmas sale or some other big sale and keep them in her closet until the right moment.
I wanted to limit my children's television habits. During the week, none of us watch television at all, but on the weekend I let them watch carefully selected videos. I also wanted to do something that would help us be closer as a family. I wanted to encourage in my children a desire to read and be creative. So we started "Story Night" on Saturday evenings.
I have my 4 year old son home with me 3 days a week and I wanted to establish a ritual for him that meant giving back to something. So Mondays became "Give to the Earth Day" where we started going to the beach and bringing our litter bags and spending about 30 minutes picking up trash along the beach.
I keep a journal and my husband and I write down the funny anecdote of the day involving our kids. It is a great reminder of things that happen during a day, because so many things happen only once and this is a great way to remember them.
When my children were really small, I didn't have money to send them off to camp, but I felt like I really wanted to entertain them and introduce them to the world in a different way. So I took them on what I called "photographic safaris".
This is about a birthday tradition called the "When I Was" booklet, which is a way to celebrate birthdays and special events in your child's life and also a way to have fun with writing.
During birthday celebrations when all the focus is on gifts sometimes, one of the things that gets lost is the sense of this day being a milestone and a time to celebrate the growth and change in our children over the past year. That's a really an important thing to do and there are lots of different ways to do it.
Our front door is sort of a giant message board and venue for seasonal decorations. We have a six year old who just loves to make decorations, so we have on hand a package of construction paper, age-appropriate scissors and some tape, and whatever the season, we do decorations for that season.
I have learned a few things with my children who are extraordinary picky eaters and one suggestion I would like to make is when you have a child that refuses to eat vegetables or there is a particular food group that they cannot stand, try using the "traffic light system". This system says you need to eat something red, something yellow, and something green.