Being intentional with family traditions and rhythms can be hard! That is why I created this simple, grace-filled list meant to inspire!
Low-Stress Ways to be Intentional as a Family this Year
Family rhythms are things that we do regularly. They are habits that become part of the fabric of our lives. They are things that we do so frequently that we do them almost unconsciously. They are things we have considered important enough to build into the fabric of our lives with intention. But they become so regular, they do not come across as intentional.
Personally as I realize that the year is coming to an end soon I am working through what I can do better in the coming year. This list seems endless but specifically I am looking for ways that I can build more intentional family rhythms into our day to day lives. These are the ideas that my family will be using and I thought perhaps, your family could glean from it as well.
Do not view this list of rhythms as something you can fail at. Give yourself Gospel grace. You are pursuing a better, more intentional, more Christ-like life for your family, and that is beautiful. View this list as inspiration because even if you only ever check off one thing on the random acts of kindness list, or send one card in the coming year, that is still an opportunity you wouldn’t have had otherwise to live with intention.
Essentially the question I am trying to answer for my family is this: what traditions can we start in order to love our family, neighbors, friends, and church well through relationship and service?
Some of these are inward focused, some are ministry focused, but all are meant to add an element of joy, purpose, intention, and blessing to our everyday lives.
I have wanted to do this for several years now but I am finally breaking out the jar and cutting the paper! The goal is that every day we will be able to write a memory or something we are thankful for and put it in the jar. This could be something funny, sweet, or sad but we will date it and put it in the jar to be opened and appreciated on January 1, 2020. I’m starting out with the knowledge that I probably won’t be able to do it every day so I want to give myself grace but I really love the idea that we could much better appreciate an entire year of memories and God’s grace together through this!
Looking for a good solution for the jar? Any basket or jar you have around the house will work pretty well if it is a decent size but the option below is a good one if you want to purchase something!
In order to help myself and you with this, I have put together a printable pack that includes pages you can print out and date with each memory or thing you are thankful for. You can grab the printable pack at the bottom of this post!
Both personal and family. This is one of the crucial rhythms in the Christian life and it is often taken for granted. I plan to start a daily devotional (click here to check out the one I plan to use) as well as work through several Bible study books. I will still be in the middle of this one when the new year starts and I am very much enjoying it.
There is also a highly valuable habit among Christians of reading through the entire Bible in the course of one year. Establishing this as a habit gives you the ability to see the context of the Scripture and prevents our common practice of skipping sections or books we don’t find as entertaining. You will be hard pressed to find a better reading plan than this one written by Robert Murray M’Cheyne for his own congregation’s use in the 1840’s. Plus it completely free! Check it out here…
This year I am also excited to begin working with my daughter to establish her own time in the Scriptures. She will be 6 in June and we plan to begin this book with her then.
Family devotions are also a critically important yet easily overlooked daily tradition to start TODAY if you are not already doing them. For a look at how we do them in our house, check out this post.
I know many families find this incredibly hard to do and my family isn’t able to do it for three meals a day either but, as much as possible, eat your meals together as a family. Make it a point in the coming year not to allow activities to steal these moments from your family on a daily basis. If you can’t eat dinner together, try to eat breakfast together. Adjust your schedule so that you have intentional time together without distractions. No devices should be allowed during this meal (this can be hard for everyone) and everyone should focus on the conversation (even if it is the endless rambles of a toddler or the groanings of a teenager). This is a simple, profound way to make memories and have conversations that will be a blessing to your family throughout their lives.
Prayer Before Bed
Taking a few minutes before bed to pray with each of my children this year has been the best daily tradition I implemented into our lives. It gives me a chance to hear their prayers, ask them questions about what they want to pray for and what they are thankful for, and opens a door of communication, in the quiet of a dark bedroom where there is no distraction. We have had more fruitful Gospel conversations in those few moments when we are all exhausted just before bed than I ever could have imagined and I am immensely thankful that this has become a family rhythm for me.
But this is also a blessing as a personal rhythm as well. Certainly we need to be praying throughout the day but building prayer in as an intentional part of a bedtime routine is a sure way to humble yourself and cast your anxieties on God (1 Peter 5:6-7).
We already talked about the importance of personal and family time spent in the Scriptures but that is actually not what I mean here. Read something else too.
Read individually, read together, just make sure you read.
Too much of our lives are spent skimming and scrolling on screens but we need to actually read books regularly. Reading articles online doesn’t count because we all skim. We never grasp the author’s full intent because we glance over their words like they aren’t there.
Make this one of your rhythms. Read a book. Take time to invest in yourself and your mind by reading daily from a book (for some great ideas, check out this post).
One way to practice kindness
I have started to be intentional with my children about this but want to make it an everyday thing in the coming year. I want it to become a tradition that we focus on one way that we can practice kindness each day. For children as young as mine, it usually means picking up after someone else or willingly sharing.
But I also want this to become something I am intentional about in my own life. It can also look like calling someone you know is having a rough time, or putting a card in the mail, offering to babysit for a young mom, or just doing some other family member’s household chore.
Whatever it is, practicing kindness is not something any of us find natural everyday so making it an intentional tradition in our daily lives is an important way to keep the idea of Matthew 7:12 in mind: “Treat people the same way you want them to treat you.”
Practice a Verse
We will touch on what I mean for this in the Monthly Rhythms section below but if you want to memorize a verse, you need to practice is as a daily rhythm in life.
It is my sincere desire that many of us will fall in love with hospitality enough that we will orient our lives around making this a daily rhythm but I also understand we each come from very different perspectives in regard to these things and we need to start somewhere.
So start by picking a day of the week in which you will practice hospitality. Maybe it is every Tuesday night you will host someone for dinner. However you choose to do this, make hospitality a regular part of your life weekly so that you are better able to fulfill the commands of Scripture.
If you want to intentionally begin a rhythm of hospitality, make sure you check out the
For more information about where to start with hospitality, check out this post.
Special Meal Together
We already talked about eating together in the daily traditions section above, but I mean something different for this one. This is a special meal. Maybe it is your family’s favorite or maybe it is something that you all make together. It could pancakes on Saturday morning or a candlelit dinner everyone helped with on Thursday night but make one meal something that your family treasures together.
This is a special night of intentionality where you purpose to be together. You sit long at the table and enjoy one another’s company.
I cook homemade meals for my family everyday so this is something I find difficult to do. Making one meal a week something special takes more intentionality than I normally exercise but this is a tradition I hope to emphasize in the coming year.
To help me do that, I bought the Kid Chef Junior Cookbook. Kids as young as 4 can make these recipes alongside a grownup and I’m excited to use it in our home this year!
Surprise for Children
I have to admit, this wouldn’t have made my list but my husband mentioned it. He said that his dad would stop by the dollar store for a cheap toy as a surprise to him whenever it was payday. I probably would have laughed that off as one of the benefits of my husband being an only child but he and his dad had the most profound father/son relationship I have ever seen. They were best friends for his whole life to the point that my husband said if his dad had still been living when we got married, he would have been his best man without question. So when my husband speaks of something special his dad did that built their relationship, I listen.
And practicing the rhythms of surprise blessing for a child wouldn’t have to be a toy. It could be a book, or a chance for them to pick what you eat for dinner, or to have a friend over for a playdate, or a trip to the library or the park. Taking the time to build a rhythm of blessing your children into your week will go a long way in them realizing just how important they really are to you.
If your children are out of the house now, this may look like an unexpected phone call, card, or package in the mail. It could be that you volunteer to watch the grandkids so they can go out or that you meet them for a meal at a favorite restaurant. Whatever that looks like for you, I am quite sure that finding a way to be a surprise blessing to your children (or the children in your life like nieces and nephews, etc.) on a weekly basis will go a long way toward building relationships that last!
Send a Card
Buy or make a card to send someone in the real, physical mail. So much of our connection happens behind screens now that a physical card that someone took the time to write by hand feels like a foreign object. It takes a love and intention most of us don’t bother with anytime other than Christmas. So this year, as I prepare my Christmas cards, I am realizing that if I sent a real card every week for a year I would bless 52 people and give them something to smile about during the day. I am very excited to begin this as one of our family rhythms in the coming year!
You can send a letter on normal paper, have the kids make a card, or just pick up a set of cards like this one to make it even easier!
Random Act of Kindness
We talked about kindness becoming a daily rhythm in our households but these are opportunities for you to look outside your own family and bless others with no expectation of return.
To help with this, I have put together a printable with 52 Random Acts of Kindness. You can print this, hang it in your house, and check off one a week to keep this concept in front of you. I have a spot on the fridge mapped out for mine! Grab your copy at the bottom of this post!
This family rhythm of kindness is also an important element in our Cultivating Community Binder too. Grab your binder today to explore this and other important rhythms for your year!
Pick a verse to memorize
The last verse we picked for our family to learn together was James 1:19 “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” And even my 3-year-old still has it memorized. We worked on it daily for several weeks (that’s what I was talking about in the daily section above). We made craft projects out of it. We wrote it down and read it together. In the end, we had each memorized a verse that ought to dictate our interactions with one another. This is a great monthly opportunity. Whether you are single, an empty nester, or have young children, at some level we can all do this and one verse a month is an easy goal to reach.
Service Opportunity in the Neighborhood
I am still working on what this looks like in our very reclusive neighborhood but taking the time once a month to perform a service in your neighborhood is a tremendous way to be a blessing those God intentionally put you next to (check out this article for more about that). Perhaps this is delivering cookies to the new person on the street, bringing dinner to a widow, shoveling snow, mowing a lawn, or raking leaves. Look for ways that you can be a blessing in your neighborhood every month. If you prayerfully seek ways to do this, I’m quite sure God will reveal them to you.
Check out this post for ideas on how to get started.
Volunteer at a Ministry
My husband is a pastor so I guess you could say that we participate in a lot of regular ministry opportunities but the one that comes to mind most readily for me is our church’s community meal.
I often cook and/or serve the meal. My husband does a lot of the set up and tear down. And my children help deliver silverware to our guests. We also all sit down and share a meal with those who come quite often. This is a tradition both of our children love and look forward to on a monthly basis.
But this isn’t the only idea. Perhaps for your family it could be visiting a nursing home, working at an after-school program, performing respite for a foster family, or being a mentor to underprivileged youth. There are a ton of volunteer opportunities in the church and the community. Look for ways that this can be a regular part of your month!
Complete a book
By this I do not mean Dr. Seuss. Read a book. If you build reading into your daily life like we talked about above, completing one book a month will not be an impossible or even difficult task.
Read regularly and finish books.
If you make it a goal to complete one book a month, not only will you have much more to talk about with those you spend time with as you practice weekly hospitality, you will also have completed 12 books a year. And my guess is, if you are anything like me, one book a month will quickly become two and on it goes. Make this a goal!
Don’t know where to start? Check out my book review section for some great ideas!
Grace as a Daily Rhythm
Remember what I said in the beginning, this list is not meant to intimidate you or make you feel badly if you don’t do them all. This is meant to inspire and empower you to look for ways to make the traditions of your household and your family rhythms intentional.
Remember the question we are trying to answer with each of these rhythms: what traditions can we start in order to love our family, neighbors, friends, and church well through relationship and service?
But also keep in mind that the MOST important rhythm you can practice in your daily life is that of grace. Practice the beautiful art of giving yourself and others Gospel grace. These are not hard and fast rules. These are not the list of things you need to do to raise Godly children or be Godly yourself. All of this is grace. We all need to remember that!
Do you have other ideas? Rhythms you want to implement in your life in the coming year? Traditions you have focused on in the past that have been a particular blessing to your life, your family, or those people God has placed in close proximity to you? Let me know in the comments below!