We are big on family traditions and celebrations in our house. I've shared here before that I grew up in a chaotic unhealthy home**. There wasn't enough structure to have rituals and traditions. Naturally, I want to provide better for my kiddos.
There are several reasons I think traditions are so important. They become a joyful constant in our lives despite the many chaotic changes that happen. They give our kiddos and us a time to look forward to when life starts to feel mundane. Most importantly, they create shared memories which create strong bonds. Holiday traditions and family rituals are an easy way to create a lasting family identity.
In our home we don't just celebrate the major holidays like Christmas and birthdays. Minor holidays, like St. Patrick's Day and May Day, also get a bit of celebration. We have seasonal rituals as well. We use a chalkboard where at the beginning of a season we write down our plans: apple picking, ice skating, Shakespeare in the park, etc.
I like to go big, but I think one of the keys to having successful traditions is sustainability. You have to keep it simple enough so that it's repeatable. Grace and flexibility are also needed. In the past we've celebrated Valentine's a couple days late. My kiddos would tell you that every fall we go apple picking and to the Scarecrow Fest, but some years it just doesn't happen. It doesn't need to be perfect for it become a cherished family tradition.
I love our Valentine's ritual. It's fairly low stress. It provides time for me to reflect on how blessed I am to be my kiddos' momma. The kids look forward to it every year...they have already started counting down the days. We take ten hearts for each our kids and write little notes about how they make us smile, ways they've grown, things they do that make us proud, etc. We usually cut hearts out of construction paper, a different color for each kid, but you could get pre-cut ones at a craft store. We've learned it's much easier if we start reflecting and writing the heart ideas a week or so out. If we procrastinate and rush it we miss out on the blessing of getting to reflect on how awesome our kiddos really are.
In the evening of Feb 13th, we hide the hearts around the house; kind of like hiding Easter eggs. The next morning the kids start hunting for them as soon as they wake up.We have a pin-up board in our dinning room where they usually get collected, but one year they just taped them to back of their chairs.
To make the house a little more festive, we will also blow up a package of dollar store balloons. We are huge breakfast people, so that's when we will have a thematic meal. This has varied from year-to-year depending on energy. The Valentine's day after BabyZ was born we had yet to get on a sleep schedule; I was exhausted, so Jeremy used a cookie cutter to cut hearts of sliced bread and made Valentine's cinnamon toast.
**Whenever I mentioned my childhood I feel like I also need to say I love my mom and am so proud of her. Her life hasn't been an easy one. I know that she tried her best, she tried to give me a better life than she had. She's gotten knocked down many times, but she's always stood back-up. I have two siblings who are much younger than I am, and she was a better mom to them than she was with me. She's taught me that it's never too late to grow and change...it's a tradition I'm hoping to pass down.