Do you see the light at the end of the tunnel where you and your loved ones can begin seeing each other again?
Since our world has drastically changed, we have lost many of the social experiences that we have always loved like traditional holiday gatherings, annual festivities, hobby classes or family activities. The increased disconnection between people and loved ones has a negative impact on our mental health and relationships and so we have strived to think outside the box for new and innovative ways to engage with each other from afar. While there are some things we cannot wait to leave behind, there are other things we choose to keep. This is the time, as vaccines arrive for us to slowly start our adjustment into incorporating some of these new traditions into our lives and dropping others.
Positive memories create a sense of belonging and a secure attachment to others we have in our life. We want these memories to give us warm fuzzies and while 2020 (and even some of 2021) was a hard year for many people, we need to think of the things we did enjoy doing. During the year, people have created a new tradition of video calling once a month with friends or family that they might not normally connect with in person. In our first blog, we talked about connecting and this is the same connection we want to build, foster and deepen with our family and friends. Because we are not going back to normal just yet, we are still able to show our care in other ways like creating care packages and delivering them. It is possible to even involve the people in your household! Bake cookies together, prepare a meal, cook and package it up together, get kids to make cards for the package!
It is even possible for your new tradition to be something that builds community. While many people would find a non-profit to volunteer at during a holiday like Thanksgiving or Christmas, you can look at this differently, like putting together a box of canned goods to deliver to the food bank or even looking next door to the neighbour who might need groceries purchased and delivered. You might collaboratively decide as a family, you will go to the supermarket together to pick out items for donation and go to the food bank together every September of each year. Checking in on your neighbour to see if they need any groceries delivered could be a once-a-month tradition with your family. An important part of the tradition is to involve your kids in these practices.
Kids are much more likely to be engaged and want to participate when they understand “why” this is important or why you are starting a new tradition. Make them feel like they are a big part of these traditions, you can do that by letting them pick out the items or arrange the care packages. This is also a great opportunity to spend quality time and connect with your kids. Allowing the opportunity to connect with each member of your family in a 1:1 environment is important in establishing what could be a great tradition to start. Each person is a unique individual and you will be surprised what they will share with you when they are alone with you. These individual dates once a month might be valuable and the tradition of going for ice cream once a month with your spouse or child can go on for years and create new and exciting memories for everyone.
Connection as a family is important and you’ve made changes within your household like undistracted mealtimes, where you go around the table and share the latest and greatest from that day. A family tradition may look like something that you have enjoyed doing together during Quarantine times, like taking a Staycation at a hotel in downtown Vancouver. Or it could be a new tradition to have fancy Sunday breakfasts with your family where you make bacon, eggs, pancakes, waffles with whipping cream and fresh fruit. Some fun family traditions include starting a Happiness jar! This is where people have put in a moment that they want to share with each other during a special family meal that may happen once a month. Traditions are often difficult to keep up, so it is important to pick a tradition that you find easy and cost-effective to maintain.
Another thing that is important and challenging, is to try to set a tradition for yourself. What is your self-care tradition as a parent? Schedule this weekly, if possible and this regular routine will allow your kids to become comfortable with it as well. When they are comfortable with this, they will feel less anxious or left behind when you are doing your self-care. For example, every Sunday you are used to having a large family gathering but since Covid happened, you learned that a smaller Sunday dinner with just your immediate family has decreased the stress and pressure you used to feel every week. So, going forward, you make that the new tradition - Sunday Dinner with fewer people. Another example of self-care could be continuing the scheduled Zoom meet-ups you have with your friends or family. Covid has allowed us to get creative in keeping up with our loved ones, so why not carry that into post-Covid time! You could schedule a zoom call with your friends every Friday night or once every two weeks, you play a game virtually with your siblings. Some self-care traditions can be done after your kids have gone to bed, for example, a fancy charcuterie board with some wine for yourself while you watch your favorite guilty pleasure show.
When creating new traditions, it is important to remember that being present for these moments holds a special connection and creates new and lasting bonds.
Happy Parenting - JC