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THE MOM SCENE: Having fun with family traditions


Something as simple as treating your kids to frozen yogurt can end up becoming a sweet tradition in more ways than one.
Something as simple as treating your kids to frozen yogurt can end up becoming a sweet tradition in more ways than one. - Heather Laura Clarke

You would have thought we were planning an elaborate vacation, but no. We were just discussing our plans for the afternoon the kids received their second-term report cards.

We celebrate every report card with a treat — frozen yogurt or something from the gas station, which is hilariously exciting when you’re a kid — and “kids can do whatever they want” for the rest of the afternoon. (Spoiler alert: they always pick screen time.)

As a result, they look forward to report card day like it’s a legit holiday. They picked frozen yogurt this time around and it made me smile to see how delighted they were with our after-school outing. It felt special because it’s a tradition.

The experts all agree that children feel comforted by routines. And it’s true. Kids love to know what to expect and they like knowing they can look forward to something good happening.

Our son and daughter know the Tooth Fairy always brings a toonie, unless you had an overcrowded tooth pulled out by the dentist, which bumps the price to $5.

They know every Friday night, we’re going to eat homemade pizza and watch a movie together. They know Saturday mornings are when I make my famous pancakes, with enough leftovers to reheat on Sunday morning.

They know every summer will kick off with the Canada Day parade in the next town over and that it will draw to a close when we do a marathon 10-hour day at the provincial exhibition.

Our fall isn’t complete without spending the day at our favourite corn maze, where we do every activity except the actual corn maze.

They know our Elf on the Shelf, Pippa, will arrive each year on Dec. 1. They know I’ll take them to The Nutcracker and we’ll get dressed up to take in the beautiful ballet we know by heart.

They look forward to the evening when we decorate the Christmas tree together and get to unwrap all of our familiar ornaments. We all have our favourites. Mine is a battered wooden nutcracker from my childhood, whose legs are droopy from loose string.

They know my husband and I always give them each four Christmas presents — something you want, something you need, something to play with and something to read — and they get to ask Santa for one present. They also know they get to open one gift on Christmas Eve, which is always a matching pair of Christmas pyjamas I’ve made them.

On the night before their birthday, they know we’ll wait until they’re asleep and hang balloons in their doorway. If they have school on their birthday, I put a card in their lunch bag and giftwrap all of their lunch items.

My husband’s family has a tradition where someone sneaks up on you and swipes butter across your nose when it’s your birthday. I’m unclear how it started, but it’s funny to watch.

We also celebrate their “half birthdays.” There aren’t any gifts, but I’ll bake half a cake and we invite the neighbours to come over after school. Everyone giggles through a round of “Happy half-birthday to youuuuu!” and then digs into cake and ice cream.

Sometimes, my husband and I feel guilty that our children aren’t as well-travelled as many of their friends or that we don’t whisk them away for many special day trips and spontaneous outings.

But we have our little traditions and those are what make the years feel special for us.

Heather Laura Clarke is a freelance journalist who married her high school sweetheart. They moved from the city to the country, where they spend their days making messes and memories with their eight-year-old son and six-year-old daughter. Follow their family’s adventures over at www.HeathersHandmadeLife.com.

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