Creating a Unified Family Culture
Creating a culture of unity is Ammon’s and my top priority in our family. We’ve adopted a lot of ideas from the Family Brand retreat (I love them and their podcast), and we’ve also drawn from our individual upbringings. Occasionally, we add in new ideas when we feel like our current rituals have become habitual.
Bonding with Routines & Rituals
I've found that routines and rituals are crucial for cultivating a feeling of belonging and security in our family. Knowing we’re going to start and end our day with a little routine brings all of us peace, and having celebratory rituals to look forward to makes special occasions feel even more special.
My suggestion: do whatever feels natural to your family, because that’s what will really stick. I also think your family members’ ages make a huge difference. I doubt what we’re doing now will fly when our kids are teenagers – something tells me they won’t want to sit and listen to me read James and the Giant Peach at 7:30pm before bed.
If you’re just starting out with creating rituals and routines, don’t feel overwhelmed. Start by doing one thing a day or one thing a year. Once you feel comfortable, start adding more pieces wherever it feels natural, and soon you’ll find yourself longing for these practices that add up to a huge influence in your family’s life.
Here’s a look at the ways we create unity in our home.
- Reading scriptures as a family for 10 minutes or less
- Thankful Journals for 10 minutes or less (we just added this one last week!)
- Connecting with each person for 30 seconds, uninterrupted
- Chores and individual responsibilities. This is crucial for our kids – it reminds them they’re part of the family and part of the home. We all need each other.
- Reading to the kids out loud, about 20 minutes per day
- Every single day, Ammon and I say “I love you” to each other (and kiss, duh)
- Read our family values out loud together
- Review and plan the schedule for the week, about 20 minutes
- Church on Sunday, two hours
- Check-ins with the kids, one at a time, 20 minutes or less. These usually happen on Sunday afternoons in our bed. We snuggle each kid and chat with them. We ask different questions each week, and usually they end up just talking to us about all of the things.
- Fun family activity, usually on the weekend
- Date night, just me and Ammon. This is a must, even if it’s just watching a movie together.
- Family dinner 4-6x per week all together. We go around the table and ask different questions each night, and we try to make it a thoughtful, reflective time for the kids to really engage. Some questions we ask are:
- What is your high/low of today?
- A fond memory you have with the person on your left?
- Three things you love about the person to your right?
- If you could be a professional at anything, what would it be?
- What is your biggest fear? Your biggest goal? Your biggest accomplishment?
- Who is someone you want to get to know better or strengthen a relationship with this week?
- What is an act of service you are going to do this week?
- Who is someone you wish you could meet and why?
- What is something you want to do this week?
- What is something you wish we knew? How can we help you better?
- Is there something you’re going through that we as a family can help you with?
- How can we show up for you this week? How can you show up this week for us?
- We celebrate that month’s holiday and do something special that day, even if it’s just simple decorations or a themed dinner. We are firm believers in traditions bonding families, so we go to that effort to make things special.
- One-on-one dates with each child – this is something we want to start this year.
- Ammon and I take a weekend alone each quarter to go over what is working/ not working in our family and in our relationship. This has been crucial for us. We both look forward to that time alone. It’s paramount in our healthy relationship.
- An act of service as a family. Another ritual we want to implement this year. Service is such a great way to get outside ourselves, and teaching that to my kids is so important. I feel like they are old enough now that we can start diving deeper into this and I can’t wait to see what we come up with.
- Birthday breakfasts. We always make birthdays fun and have a huge breakfast together.
- Family trip. Whether it’s camping, a road trip up to the Ranch House in Wyoming or an extravagant trip to somewhere exotic, we make it happen. These trips get more fun every year as my kids get older!
- Dia de los Muertos. We research our ancestors and throw a huge party to celebrate them and their lives. We share stories and have a huge spread of all our traditional ancestral dishes.
- Christmas Eve. We have a huge party every year that is super special to us. We play the same games, eat the same meal, and do the same program. We all look forward to it all season. It’s the best day of the year!
- New Year’s Party. We all sit down together and create our vision boards for the coming year. We have done this two years in a row and we LOVE it! The kids get super creative with their boards and hang them in their rooms. It motivates all of us and it’s easy for us to help each other because we can see each other's goals.
Do you have family rituals, routines, or habits that help create strong bonds in your family? I’d love to hear. Leave a comment and let us know what brings unity to your home!