Monday, May 16, 2016

Our Family Traditions - On Creating Memories With Our Children

I live far away from my side of the family, half way across the continent. I miss my family a lot and sometimes it hurts, but I made this life choice and I know the consequences and I am dealing with it, every single day. I could never really tell what's on my mom's and dad's mind when I had to leave the country I've known for 30 years and moved to America.

I had a good childhood growing up, I spent more time with my mom than I was with my dad. My dad was a journalist, and he travelled awful lots but when he was home, he took us to fun places. Some are places that regular Indonesian kids might not be able to visit. He could only do that  because of his special access as a journalist for the government.

The last time I saw my dad, he told me how he regretted some of the time that he lost with his children, he wished he could have had spent more time with me and my siblings. I've never blamed my father for not spending enough time with me, he had to work to provide for his family. I could not complain. I was glad my mom was always there for us, she was always the first person I saw every time I came home from school.

Now that I have family of my own, spending some quality time with my children are very important to me. My husband and I are in the same boat on this. When I used to work, I had to be away from my children for at least 9-10 hours every day but now that I have more flexibility, spending time with them  is my number one priority. As parents, what my husband and I can do more than anything else is to give them our time while they are home with us, to create memories,- something that they will remember and maybe they will pass on to their kids. We love creating family traditions.

These are our family traditions:

Crepes for dinner, sure!

Pancakes, turkey sausages and egg for dinner?, of course!

1. Breakfast For Dinner - Tuesday

In our house,  one of the fun time is dinner time and we make one night of the week an extra special night. Every Tuesday night, we eat breakfast for dinner. I cook anything that we would eat as breakfast. Each week, the menus varies; pancakes, waffles, scramble eggs, blueberry scones, crepes, French Toast, English muffins with poach eggs, or what have you. Tuesday night is a fun night for us, especially for our children because on this night they get to eat some sweet (oh, why not?); pouring maple syrup on waffle or pancake or sprinkling powdered sugar on the scones. Our family have been doing this tradition in the last 4 years and we are not planning to stop. The children are excited about Tuesday night.

2. Breakfast For Lunch - Every Other Friday

Just like Breakfast for dinner on Tuesday, in the past six months, I have provided breakfast for lunch for the children lunch box. "You have bacon and waffle for lunch? WOW, that is awesome". That was one of the comment from my kid's friends at school when they saw their lunch box.

3. Movie Night At Home - Friday or Saturday

If we don't have any plan to go out on Friday or Saturday night, that means we are having movie night at home. We will pick a family movie (almost always it's a children's movie) from Netflix, Amazon Prime or from movies on demand in our TV cable. All four of us must agree with the movie we are watching. Sometimes it takes a lot of time to pick one movie and some argumentation might happen in deciding which movie to watch. We use this time to teach our kids about compromising and negotiation.  With a big bowl of popcorn that I make, Friday night movie at home is a spot on and it's cheap.

4. Family Board Games - Friday or Saturday

If not movie, then we play board games. We have many board games to play at home; The Amazing Labyrinth, Blokus, SORRY, SCRABBLE, Dominoes, UNO, Card Games, Geusstures, Chess, Dominos, Monopoly and many more. Our house is the loudest when we're playing game. My favorite one is Guesstures, it is so fun to watch our five years old daughter trying to act out the words on the card.

5. The Weekly Family Meeting Night - Sunday

This is actually the new tradition that we have done in the past four weeks. My son suggested it and we thought it's such an excellent idea. Most Sunday nights we stay home. Right before they go to bed, we spend about 20-30 minutes to discuss about family events, we talk about things we are excited about, we talk about our family plans or individual plans and our goals. In this occasion, we encourage our children to speak up if they have any complains about us, the parents.

6. Bedtime Stories - Every Night (Almost, 95% of the time)

This is the oldest tradition we have at night and we have been doing this since my oldest was born. Although both kids can read on their own, my husband or I (mostly my husband) still read to our daughter every night. There is something really comforting about hearing my husband reads out loud to our daughter. I can hear them from across the room and it always gets me smile.

7. Reading Quietly In the Same Room for 25 Minutes

I just started this last Friday. I asked them to read any books of their choice (chapter books) quietly, in the same room with me. I read a book too. We set an alarm to run for 25 minutes. It's a nice way to have a quiet house for a straight 25 minutes. Winning!!!

He is excited about his Harlem basketball being signed by one of the players

8. Watching  Harlem Globetrotters Basketball Game

Harlem Globetrotters are an exhibition basketball team that combines athleticism, theater and comedy. My husband watched this game a couple of times as a kid with his parents and he is repeating that tradition with us since two years ago. The team is on tour every year and we have watched them two times while they were touring in Los Angeles. It was a fun family memory to create.

The first time we decorated the house for the birthday surprise

9. Decorating The House For Birthday

Every year, the night before each of our children's birthday, my husband and I will put up some birthday decoration in the house. It's not necessary that we are going to have a birthday party for them but more like a tradition that we do every year since our oldest was 3 year old. We set the birthday gifts on the dining room table and covered them with balloons. The morning of their birthday, when the children walk to the dining room to have breakfast they will find their birthday surprise. After a few times and as they get older, they expect what's awaiting them on the morning of their birthday but it never fails to amaze them of what's waiting on the dining table. Two years ago on our son's 7th birthday, we decorated the house but we did not put any gifts on the table. We told him that this year we could not give him any birthday present. He was a little sad and he said it was okay. He was happy enough that we still managed to decorate the house. Then I asked him to walk to the kitchen with me to get breakfast and to pick which cereals he wanted to eat that morning. We put the cereals boxes on the top of the fridge and among those boxes was a box of his new video game, an X-BOX ONE. He saw it and he cried. Tears of joy. It was priceless.
Now we have to think of some other way to celebrate this birthday tradition, something unexpected.

A few of Holiday decorations at The Grove in Los Angeles

10. Seeing the Holiday Lights Decoration at The Grove in LA

The Grove is an outdoor mall located in Los Angeles, near Hollywood. We go to The Grove so many times, not until during the Holiday seasons. But Holiday seasons (from Thanks Giving to Christmas) make The Grove extra fun to visit. With its holiday light decorations and the fake snow, our family get to enjoy the festivities. We have been doing this since before our oldest was born. We never miss a year without visiting The Grove on Holidays.

I do hope my children will fond of these memories that have become our family traditions. Who knows  they might pass this along with their own family someday?.

There are many things we can do together with our children as part of our traditions in creating those fond memories with the people we love the most.

Now, can you share your family tradition with me?


  1. One of our tradition is playing Indonesian traditional game at home...
    Very inspiring blog you have.

  2. Thanks for sharing good things mbak, kalo aku terapkan di keluargaku, kayaknya bakalan bisa deh ini, memicu keharmonisan, aamiin