The Sweetest Lullabies, 'Fancy' Dinners and Bracelets with Special Powers: Cute Family Traditions You Can Copy for Your Kids
Kelle Hampton, @etst: We buy matching rubber bracelets at the beginning of the school year for every family member. We all wear them on the first day of school to help remind us all that we are connected and loved (first days can be scary!). These also work great later in the year for test days or particular challenges. It’s so nice to have a secret reminder when you’re away from your family that everyone has your back and is rooting for you.
Ceta Walters, @clarkandstone: I have a “Mommy/Clark and Stone check-in.” I ask Clark and Stone every day after school pick-up about how they are doing. I ask what could they improve about themselves, what would they like to remain the same and what was the highlight of the day? After they each answer, I turn the tables on myself and I ask them what I can work on, what I can keep doing more of and then I ask them to share their highlight with me from the week. I turn the tables on myself so they learn the lines of communication go both ways. I want them to hold me accountable, too. It’s my relationship checklist that I’ve created for the three of us. I want to raise boys that will become men that know how to communicate.
David Bacque, @life_with_benjamin: It seems like when you live with a toddler, the rituals and routines add up over time until your day is one long sequence of rituals. However, one thing we’ve done for a long time is singing made-up songs at bedtime. But, the songs aren’t entirely random. Benjamin always wants the songs to be about different things eating too many beans and getting the farts. So currently he is into Peppa Pig and wants me to sing about the different characters going to the store to buy beans, bring them home, eat them, and of course, get the farts from eating them.
Andrea Lavinthal, PEOPLE Style & Beauty Director, @andilavs: Every morning while I’m getting my almost 3-year-old son, Saxon, dressed for school, we talk about all of the friends he’s going to see that day and sing silly songs using their names. It gets him excited for the day and adds a little fun to his daily routine.
Lee Chisholm, @daddownload: My daughter Ava, 2, and I have a few cute little rituals, like fist bumping whenever we complete a task (putting on shoes, going to potty, eating all the dinner) but my favourite is bedtime. Just before bed, we’ll read the same book, but at the top of our lungs, shouting the house down! Don’t ask how this started, but now that it has, it doesn’t look like it’s going to end anytime soon. Once that book is read ohh, eight or nine times, I’ll then give Ava a recap on the day and what she did. The looks on her face when we talk about the highlights and achievements is just the cutest and it melts my heart every single time. This started as a tactic by me so calm her then she started using it as a tactic to delay me leaving her to go to sleep. Now it’s a tactic from both of us to enjoy that last few seconds before she goes to sleep.
Kate Hogan, PEOPLE Digital Specials Director: My husband grew up eating crudités with his parents every night and for whatever reason, they called them “chunks.” So we started doing the same with our kids Henry, 3, and Lucy, 18 months, when they were old enough, sharing a plate of veggies before dinner and talking about our days. Somehow, using the word “chunks” instead of “vegetables” seems to make them forget they’re eating their greens, and watching them down tomatoes and cucumbers makes me feel less guilty on the nights they hardly touch their dinners (which, as toddlers, is often).
Aili Nahas, PEOPLE Deputy West Coast News Editor: We love to do “fancy” dinners with our three kids. I break out the candles, dim the lights and serve the meal along with sparkling drinks in crystal glasses (usually with at least one cherry, too!). The kids get so excited to have a grown-up-style meal.
Beau Coffron, @lunchboxdad: Every Sunday night I make my kids a special character-themed lunch that they can take to school the next day. It’s always a surprise that they get to open with their friends and I create it based on whatever movie, book or TV show that they are excited about at the time.
Alex Apatoff, PEOPLE Lifestyle Director: I sing a lullaby to my son Josh, 2, that has a couple adjectives I’ll swap out depending on what he did that day. So one day it might be “we love you so much and think you’re very brave,” and the next day might be “very funny.” He loves waiting to see what the word is going to be (and sometimes will correct me: “No, special!”).
Desiree Fortin, @theperfectmom: Something our family does every night at dinner is “highs and lows.” We take turns going around the dinner table sharing the best and lowest parts of our day. It is always pretty special to hear what my triplets share and what parts of the day that meant the most to them and the parts of the day they were bummed about. It opens the door for great conversations even at nearly 4 years old.
Greg Hanlon, PEOPLE Crime Editor: When I put my 2-year-old son down for bed, I sing him a few verses of Leonard Cohen’s “Bird on a Wire” while rubbing his back. The melody is soothing and the lyrics poignantly express the tension between freedom and constriction that is universal to all people, whether you’re an adult or a 2-year-old.
Amy Tan, @amytangerine: One of the practices I’ve started doing to start my morning off right is with an intention, and my son Jack, 5, enjoys it, too. Sometimes he will just say “everything good,” or other days he says his intention is “to be silly.” It’s been a fun way to have a little, positive and mindful moment before our day gets going.
Mia McNiece, PEOPLE Senior Writer: We have a “happiness jar” and every day we write down our happiest moment of the day down and put it in the jar — just a quick sentence on a scrap of paper or whatever is lying around so it’s quick and easy. On Jan. 1 of each year, we open the jar and read all the notes. It’s a fun way to remember little moments that happened throughout the year.