While laying in bed this morning I got to thinking about how life has changed during the past month. Honestly, most of the time it feels like an entirely new life. See, during my extended water fast I had a very strong urge to invite my Grandma Long (who has dementia and was living in a rehabilitation center at the time) to come live with our family. I was pleasantly surprised by my husbands positive response to this huge idea. I knew this was going to be a hefty yet rewarding job that would bring many changes.  So, here we are a few months later, loving the precious time we have with Grandma, yet still needing do a little tweaking for the health of our family.

This week my girls are off on spring break. Typically we would have been to the beach, science center, zoo, and God knows where else. Yet, this spring break has been spent loving up our time at home. We all love adventures! However, Grandma is not really up for adventures outside the home at this stage of the game. So how do I bring thrify adventure to our home?? Rituals!

Rituals and Routines are completely different, yet both can bring many rewards! Here is a quote from the American Psychological Association Journal of Family Psychology, explaining the association between health and routines/rituals. Psychologist Barbara H. Fiese, Ph.D also shares the technical difference between routines and rituals!

"The 50-year review, part of a special section dedicated to the study of family routines and rituals in the December issue of the American Psychological Association's (APA) Journal of Family Psychology, finds that family routines and rituals are alive and well and are associated with marital satisfaction, adolescents' sense of personal identity, children's health, academic achievement and stronger family relationships.

Psychologist Barbara H. Fiese, Ph.D., and colleagues at Syracuse University begin their review by distinguishing the difference between a family routine and a family ritual. "Routines involve instrumental communication conveying information that 'this is what needs to be done' and involve a momentary time commitment so that once the act is completed, there is little, if any, afterthought," says Dr. Fiese. "Rituals, on the other hand, involve symbolic communication and convey 'this is who we are' as a group and provide continuity in meaning across generations. Also, there is often an emotional imprint where once the act is completed, the individual may replay it in memory to recapture some of the positive experience." Any routine has the potential to become a ritual once it moves from an instrumental to a symbolic act."

Eat.  Sleep.  Work.  Routines are simply an important part of our lives as they foster stability.  They allow us to anticipate the future, as well as create a healthy sense of security.  Routines are an essential part of our lives, children and adults of all ages.  The act of creating a routine is great exercise for our brains.  Creating a new routine is basically the same as creating a new habit!  According to Senior Airman John Gordinier, of the Shaw Airforce Base, it takes 21 days to form a habit.  This is something I have heard from my Mother almost my entire life.  A little secret about me...I love the challenge of forming a new habit!  To be honest, I think I love the feeling of being able to establish a new habit much sooner than 21 days!

Ritual!  Among the most popular rituals are holiday gatherings, Birthdays and family vacations.  Rituals can create an even playing field for all members involved, there is an unspoken sense of equality.  Certainty and committment is fostered through establishing these special times together as a family.  You are saying, "I have time for you!"  and "I want to spend this special time with you!"  Our family, Grandma included, has cherished a few special rituals: family movie night with appetizers and air popped popcorn on Fridays, tickle me Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, and pillow fight Friday... 

There is a point I am trying to get at here.  This Mama is gonna have to get the utmost creative about establishing fun and adventurous rituals for our family!  Our home is now, more than ever, our haven!

Fun. Happy. Thrifty. Healthy. Ritual Ideas! 

Family Connect- A time to meet, where everyone has a chance to share celebrations, ideas, concerns and issues.

Creation Duration- A fun time when the family chooses to do a craft together, or everyone can choose thier favorite craft to do at the table together.

Donation Day- Take some special time out as a family to donate your time to a cause, such as a soup kitchen or put together a special package to donate to a local relief project.

Workout Rendezvous- After dinner the kids and I like to take some time to pump up the volume and dance, bikeride or play sports outside to enjoy each other and burn some calories.  Take turns allowing different family memebers to pick the activity!

Nature Adventure- We love to just enjoy the nature surrounding our house together.  Get creative!  My oldest daughter Rowan loves this ritual!  In fact, on our last nature adventure she gave me a facial from the stem of a hyacinth.

Gather 4 a Game- This is a very traditional ritual, however, you can find some not so traditional and just plain fun games to choose from these days.  Although, our favorite may very well be the traditional, Scrabble.

Pictures In The Sky- When was the last time you layed down on a blanket to find pictures in the clouds??  This can be a wonderfully relaxing and creative ritual for the entire family!

Buffet Wednesday- When asking Ryan for suggestions, this was his :)  This could be a pizza buffet, a chinese buffet or he even suggested a salad buffet, probably for my benefit!  A buffet is a great way to try different foods, in fact you could suggest everyone experiment by trying a new food!

Mean Clean- Establish a time where everyone chips in to do a mad dash clean, then go to the park or take a bike ride to celebrate your cleaning victory! 

Blanket With The Stars- During the fall and spring the sun sets early enough to lay a blanket down and enjoy a real life planetarium outdoors!

Know that rituals give everyone something to look forward to!  There are endless opportunities for creating fun and memorable times together.   Not to mention the money you will save by having fun right at home!

What are some rituals your family enjoy?  Post your comment below! 




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