On family rituals and mindful parenting


    What do intentional families look like? What does an intentional day consist of? One of the ways to bring a solid foundation and daily direction to your Northwest Philly familiy is the idea of ritual.

    I’ve been reading The Intentional Family by William Doherty, presenting simple rituals to stregthen family ties, and I’m understanding more and more that ritual is important for so many reasons in today’s society. It’s so easy to just check out, so easy to live together while being unconnected as a couple, as parents, and as an entire family unit. I think today’s modern family has to make a more conscious effort to stay intentional about our activities.


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    Summer is a great time to work on this. The dog days of the season are here, with long and perhaps unscheduled days of family time. If you haven’t made many travel or camp plans, you are hazed over by heat and a list of options of what to do to really engage your brood.


    Here’s a list of inspiring books I’ve compiled that all talk about the power of ritual, and the summer ritual ideas I got from each one. End your summer break by sampling some rituals that work for your family!


    –– Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids by Kim John Payne with Lisa M. Ross.

    “In the tapestry of childhood, what stands out is not the splashy, blow-out trip to Disneyland, but the common threads that run throughout and repeat: the family dinners, nature walks, reading together at bedtime, Saturday morning pancakes.” Start a walking ritual, morning or night. Even a small walk around your block every evening, maybe before dinner, can calm children down before the bedtime routines, and form community. Say hi to the neighbors sitting on the stoop. Every morning or night is a different kind of magic.


    Finish the summer with a reading ritual. My kids and I are always excited about the annual summer reading program at the Free Library of Philadelphia. We love writing down the titles of books we read every week, placing stickers on our folders, and winning little prizes throughout the summer. On these nights where the sun is still shining past eight, we take out our big read aloudd. Right nowm we’re working on Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Caroll and Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo.


    –– The Rhythm of Family by Amanda Blake Soule and Stephen Soule.

    Start a smoothie ritual. Grab the fresh fruit and dark leafy greens from the farmer’s market and get your family smoothie on. Maybe a late afternoon smoothie for a family that aren’t such early risers? See how everyone’s day went, what you wish to do tomorrow, or how to recalibrate your already existing plans in the case of changing weather or moods.


    –– Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting by Myla and Jon Kabat-Zinn.

    “Intention One: I will bring my entire creative genius to the work of mindful parenting.” Take a small moment each day or each week with your children before school begins again, and revel in some kind of creative act. Dream up a play together, write a short story, or use some kind of mixed media to form tiny masterpieces to hang all over the house. By the end of the month, your house will be full of creative inspiration to get both you and your children through the shorter fall and winter days.


    What summer rituals does your family look forward to? What are some challenges and tips for mindful parenting?


    Northwest Philly Parents is a partnership between Newsworks and Germantown Avenue Parents.

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