Weekend: Routines, rituals make memories, strengthen bonds

By SHAWN M. OCHS
Routines and rituals are important to your family. For most families, time and energy are at a premium and it is tempting to eliminate activities perceived to be a waste of time. But, think again.
Routines are those activities that get things done within the family. Chores, mealtime and bedtime are prime examples. Once completed, rarely are they thought of until the next routine activity arrives.
Predictable routines result in healthier children. Consistent bedtime routines, especially when established early in a child, result in falling asleep faster and less incidence of waking in the middle of the night. Also, using the same time night after night provides a pattern the body follows naturally.
Following a regular mealtime routine at least three times a week yields huge rewards. Eating together offers time to talk as well as show good eating habits.
Strong family bonds are created and, over time, results in a lesser likelihood of teenage drug, alcohol and sexual activity.
Rituals, on the other hand, are symbolic and convey to a family a sense of “who we are.” Often handed down from generation to generation, rituals involve connecting the family through good memories.
Vacations, birthday celebrations, reunions, Sunday dinners and other family gatherings are examples of rituals. These offer meaning and continuity, the glue that bonds the family.
Certainly, the cost can add up while creating rituals. However, costs actually plays a small role. Rather, it is the act of creating memories that is more important.
Trips to the park with a snack and bottle of water from home, or a lunch that the family helped pack, create relational bonds.
Heading to a fair is a ritual your family looks forward to every year? Great! Is money a little on the short side? No problem! Consider the variable costs: admissions, food, amusement rides and attractions, etc.
Cut or limit spending where you can, budget for what you need. Admission is a definite cost. Food, amusement rides and attractions are variable, depending on your planning as well as creativity and definition of amusement and attractions.
Remember, rituals are about cementing memories. In the long haul, you and your family will remember the fun you had, not that you limited each family member to three rides, or one sugary treat.
To further enhance the memories of fun family rituals, print some fun pictures and hang them around the house. Not only will this encourage emotional imprinting, which connects the family through memories of positive experiences, this will prompt more family involvement, as well as carry every member through the good times, and tough times.
Ochs is an Ohio State University Extension educator for family and consumer sciences.

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