Family Rituals: Elevating mundane family living

Every morning, after the hustle of prompting my three young children through their morning routines and before everyone proceeds with the school/workday, each one of my kids has a minute to do a personalized handshake with mom and dad. My seven-year-old daughter uses her fingers to sprinkle fairy dust and create hearts with our hands, my five-year-old son’s handshake is often rough and tumble in fashion, and my little one tends to copy his older siblings with a handshake that is some kind of combination of both. The start of the day is almost always frenzied, but that handshake does wonders-the kids usually leave for school smiling and feeling connected all around.

This handshake may sound simple, but this is one of our family rituals. This one-minute daily ritual has us feeling united and helps us all start the school and workday on a bright note.

Family rituals, what are they?

A family ritual is any family activity that is consistently performed with heightened thought and attentiveness. Rituals differ from habits and routines in that they require intention and serve a special purpose. Rituals can lift families out of routine-based-living and give ordinary life an extra “oomph”. Rituals also take part in telling a story about a family and helps build a solid family identity.

Why are they beneficial for families?

In everyday family living, the daily grind of mundane tasks can easily snuff out the magic of bonding. Carving out time to intentionally connect with your loved ones can uplift from the humdrum and create a sense of spirit, warmth, and belonging in your home.

Years of research suggest that family rituals offer stability during times of stress and transition (think pandemic) and contribute to overall family wellbeing. Rituals have also been shown to offer comfort and security to children, increase marital satisfaction, strengthen adolescents’ sense of identity, strengthen family bonds, help instill family values, and create lasting memories.

How to create and maintain family rituals?

When developing family rituals, keep the following in mind.

Purpose + Personalized

In her book, New Family Traditions, Meg Cox suggests that you think about these two P’s when considering a new ritual. First reflect on what purpose the ritual serves. What will your family get out of it? Do you want this ritual to encourage family unity, pass on a cultural or religious heritage, offer comfort and security, or perhaps teach a particular value? These answers will ensure that the family rituals that you craft are meaningful and thus sustainable.

Once you are clear what purpose your ritual will serve, you can then personalize it to fit your family. Your rituals are more likely to stick when you build on the things your family already likes to do. For example, for the family that enjoys the great outdoors, taking a hike on Sunday mornings to encourage less screen time and facilitate family connection is a personalized and meaningful way to encourage family bonding and impart family values.


Rituals do not have to be complicated to plan and hard to implement. They are more likely to stick around when they are simple to execute (especially daily or weekly rituals). When developing family rituals, keep them simple and cost effective, think weekly family board game or movie night.


Let go of rituals that are not working for your family. Flexibility is key to ensure that your rituals create family cohesiveness rather than tension. Try on rituals to see if they fit, if they don’t you can scrap them and try something else. For example, if you take your family to a Broadway show- with the intention of crafting a yearly ritual to inspire an appreciation of theatre- and it turns out to be an awful experience because one of your kids is sensory aversive, it’s okay to drop the idea in lieu of something else.

What kinds of rituals should you consider?

When I say family rituals, I bet some of the first ones that come to your mind are holiday and life cycle rituals. Picking out a Christmas tree, lighting candles on the menorah, holding a Thanksgiving potluck, and celebrating birthday parties are all wonderful yearly rituals, but rituals can also be threaded into the daily and weekly family schedule as well to build warmth and togetherness into your family culture.

Daily family rituals

I think of daily rituals as the meat and potatoes of family cohesiveness. Creating pockets of daily connection is easier than you may think and is sustainable if you take your existing routines and think about how you can create connection and reinforce family values during that time. Think along the lines of family snuggle time early in the morning, reading books before bedtime, evening walks, singing while doing routines, putting phones away in a basket by family meals, and collectively expressing gratitude at the dinner table.

Weekly family rituals

Similar to daily rituals, weekly family rituals also serve as a means of increasing family togetherness and reinforcing family identity. Flipping pancakes on Sunday mornings, weekly date nights, community service on the weekends, weekly movie nights, or weekend visits to a house of prayer are all some examples of crafting time to connect and impart personalized values.

Family life cycle rituals

Life cycle rituals are centered around big family milestones and transitions and further contribute to bonding and the creation of a solid family identity. These rituals can include celebrating birthdays, dedicating a new home, taking first day of school pictures, holding a baby naming party, or sitting “shiva” when there is a family death.

Seasonal family rituals

Seasonal family rituals mark moments in the seasonality of life. Seasonal rituals include holiday rituals but extend to any activity that intentionally marks a season. Some examples of seasonal rituals include, holding an Autumnal equinox feast, taking “new moon” family walks, going apple picking or to a pumpkin patch each fall, building a fire and roasting marshmallows the first day of winter, or going to the lake every summer.

You may find that you stumble onto meaningful family rituals organically, without much thought. These may turn out to be the ones that are most cherished.


The pandemic has been a distinctive destabilizer for many families’ stability. Normalcy for most has been upended-families have lost the flow of their daily routines, kids are home learning virtually, many have lost jobs and are struggling with financial anxiety, and families were robbed of the very things that provided rhythm and joy-gatherings with extended family and friends, vacations, and weekends away. Though many rituals are out of reach due to public health and safety guidelines, creating family rituals that are “pandemic safe” can be the antidote to the loss of rhythm and control that your family has most likely experienced at some point during the pandemic. Rituals are particularly helpful in creating stability during times of loss and transition- they offer comfort and are the constant in an ever-changing climate.

If you have lost loved ones during this time, rituals can serve as an acknowledgement of grief and bring the family closer together. I have an acquaintance who planted flowers in her backyard with her family after losing someone special. Watching the flowers bloom each spring serves as an acknowledgment of the sadness and allows the children to feel like the deceased has not been forgotten.

– Chaya Krinsky

Speak Your Mind


6222, Wilshire Blvd, Suite 200
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(323) 547-6356

Got Questions?
Send a Message!

By submitting this form via this web portal, you acknowledge and accept the risks of communicating your health information via this unencrypted email and electronic messaging and wish to continue despite those risks. By clicking "Yes, I want to submit this form" you agree to hold Brighter Vision harmless for unauthorized use, disclosure, or access of your protected health information sent via this electronic means.