A little bit about our family traditions, and how we purposefully make our life happy with a little extra effort
Making your life happy is a choice.
Last week we decided to make homemade ice cream. We chose a strawberry ice cream recipe, and while we were at the grocery store picking up ingredients, we decided on a whim to buy a few other flavors of strawberry ice cream and do a taste test.
While making the homemade ice cream on Sunday night, I suddenly had the thought to make a score card for our strawberry ice cream comparison.
I grabbed the big boys, and while the ice cream churned, we took printer paper and the markers and made some fun scoring sheets.
While we sat there, Fos turned to me and asked why we were doing this?
I said, “because it’s fun. And we’re the ones who get to decide if our lives are fun and happy, or boring.”
Making your own sunshine is a learned skill!
My mom taught me from a young age that in order to have a happy life, I need to make my own sunshine. And my dad taught me how to make boring things into a game or a challenge. We all have to go to school, clean the house, get a job, change dirty diapers — but YOU get to decide if your life will be happy or if you’ll be bored or disappointed.
I definitely don’t make every single day fun, and it’s not all sunshine and roses over here 100% of the time. BUT having this attitude of making your own sunshine has made my life so much happier and also reminds me to have an ice cream taste test party at the spur of the moment.
Here are some ways I make motherhood and family life happy and fun (and you can too!)
Start family traditions.
This is the best way to make a day special. There are countless family traditions you can do, and you can figure out what ones are a good fit for your family. The best way to know? TRY SOME. If it doesn’t work, who cares. Try another.
Here are some of my favorite easy family traditions that we do:
- Reading every night before bed
- I’ve done this with the boys for as long as I can remember. One chapter every night. We’ve read dozens of books together. I shared some of our favorite read aloud books in THIS POST.
- Back to school celebration the night before school
- I shared a bunch of details about our back to school dinners here
- Spooky Halloween dinner
- You can see a bunch of ideas in this post!
- Family date night
- This is usually every other week on a Saturday night, we go out to eat as a family and walk around downtown, or run errands, or whatever. Super low key, but nice to be together.
- Sunday night treat after dinner
- I don’t bake desserts during the week, but every Sunday I make dessert. Cookies, brownies, muddy buddies, chocolate scotcharoos — whatever we’re in the mood for. I have a whole pinterest board with good dessert ideas!
- Breakfast in bed on birthdays
- we make it super easy with a bowl of sugar-y cereal that we don’t usually buy, like reeses puffs or cinnamon toast crunch, but we carry it up on a pretty tray so it feels special.
- One on one trip with Philip when the boys turn 8
- We’ve only done this once, but it’s a fun tradition that Fos is already so excited for in a year and a half. Philip and B went to Washington DC for four days back in 2018, and they had the best time together. Philip lets them choose the destination, and then he plans the trip and itinerary.
- One Hour Mom Date once a week
- details about these simple mom dates are right HERE
- Family hikes
- When the weather is nicer (read: not 105 degrees and humid), we love hiking as a family. It’s a great way to get exercise and also spend time together outdoors. We just do local ones that are easy enough for our boys, and often go to brunch afterward.
- Family movie night
- Almost every Friday, we watch a movie as a family. I have a whole list of classic family movies right here if you need some ideas! Pop some popcorn, snuggle up, and have some family time!
We have many more family traditions, but these are just a few that stand out in my mind.
Do you guys celebrate, little, random, or silly holidays? Or even the big ones? I love celebrating holidays and making them special.
I never do anything huge, but I like to do something because it makes the day feel special.
I cook something special or specific, I may put up a few decorations, I might turn on specific music, I might wear something festive, etc. It doesn’t have to be a huge party — just find ways to celebrate, even just a little bit.
Here are some holidays, both big and random, that are fun to celebrate!
National Pizza Day – February 9th
- Make a personal pizza bar, with a crust (or english muffins) for everyone, and then an assortment of sauce and toppings. Or order a pizza. Or make a big family pizza at home.
Random Acts of Kindness Day – February 17th
- This is a great one for families with little kids. Tell your kids to do a random act of kindness throughout the day and then report back at dinner. Or do a service project as a family, like picking up trash at your local park. Remember, it doesn’t have to be complicated!
Pi Day – March 14th
- I like to buy those mini pie pans and make a personal pie for everyone. Or if you’d rather not eat a pie in the middle of the week, make a chicken pot pie for dinner!
St. Patrick’s Day – March 17th
- Dye the milk green. Make pancakes for dinner in the shape of a rainbow, or little gold coins, and do a plate of colorful fruit. Eat lucky charms for breakfast. Make rainbow jello.
First day of spring
- Wear a spring dress!
Earth Day – April 22
- Spend the day outside as a family! Or have a picnic outside for dinner. Or buy seeds and everyone can plant some in a pot or cup. Lots of easy possibilities.
Star Wars Day – May 4th
- Wear a Star Wars shirt. Do your hair (or your daughter’s hair) in princess Leia buns. Watch one of the movies (or have a movie marathon!), turn on the Star Wars theme song while you’re driving in the car.
Cinco de May0 – May 5th
- I love celebrating Cinco de Mayo. I always make chips and guacamole and tacos for dinner, and we dress in bright, festive colors.
- We usually have our first BBQ of the season on Memorial Day! Burgers, hot dogs, corn, french fries, etc. It’s the perfect way to kick off summer.
National Donut Day – June 2nd
- Duh, go get donuts for breakfast. Or dinner. No judgment.
Independence Day – July 4
- Run a 5K, go to a parade, make pancakes or french toast with red, white, and blue toppings. Have a BBQ. Watch fireworks. Make a berry pie.
Harry Potter’s Birthday – July 31
- We just celebrated this for the first time, and all I did was make Butter Beer (lots of recipes if you google it!) to go with our dinner, and then I played the Harry Potter theme song while we ate.
World Kindness Day – November 13
- leave notes for your kids and husband around the house. Smile at everyone you see. Connect with friends. Call your mom. Give 10 compliments throughout the day.
- We started celebrating this day a few years ago with a special Christmas season kick off day. I put together these special “December 1st Boxes” and you can find details about them in this blog post!
New Year’s Eve – December 31
- I like to stay in on New Year’s Eve, so we usually have a fun dinner, like a big meat and cheese board, or fondue with a bunch of dippers, or I mix up some fun drinks for our family. I also like to decorate with gold and silver (usually just christmas ornaments or something I already have). Because our kids are little, we do our countdown a few hours early!
New Years Day – January 1
- I love spending New Year’s Day with a fresh start, setting goals, and cleaning up Christmas decorations. I also want to start a new tradition this year with a special New Year’s Day brunch.
Remember, celebrating in any little way, even if it’s spur of the moment, or totally random, or super silly, it makes your family feel connected, it creates memories, and it makes your life happy.