Wood's Homes Blog

The importance of family routines & rituals

April 24, 2018
By Angela Hick, clinician at Wood's Homes Whole Family Treatment Centre
The importance of family routines & rituals

Family routines and rituals can often be entwined in daily interactions between family members, though, it is important to remember that that they are also distinct from one another (Spagnola & Fiese, 2007). Family routines can provide structure for families and help them organize everyday tasks, they are also repeated regularly and accommodate the needs of all family members – such as nightly family dinners. Family Rituals can help to create a sense of identity, security and belonging for family members, and often hold special meaning for children and families. Family rituals can often be passed down through generations becoming cherished traditions.

Family routines and rituals are both important as they can help the family to create memories, share important moments, develop important skills, and enhance family connection and satisfaction. More specifically, family routines can also assist with language development, academic skill development and social skill development. A routine, such as a nightly dinner time routine can expose children to a broad range of language skills and provide opportunities to reconnect, organize and structure ways in which the family communicates. Routines such as reading with your child before bed for a few minutes can also support in the development of literacy skills and can encourage children to enjoy reading in later years. Social skill development is also created through structed family rituals and routines and provide culturally acceptable behaviour for younger children (Spagnola & Fiese, 2007). It is important to note that “when routines are disrupted, it may be a hassle; when rituals are disrupted, family cohesion is threatened” (Spagnola & Fiese, 2007, p.3).

Each family will experience the effects of family routines and rituals in different ways, and no routine or ritual will have the same meaning for every family. Developing your own family routines and rituals can be helpful in creating family unity, while providing time for family members work simultaneously to do so – further assisting in the opportunity for family members to participate in bonding experiences.

Routines are an important way for families to organize themselves, and as way to spend time together. Routines can help to developed structure within the home and provide predictability and safety for children and parents. Routines can include:

  1. Preparing and having daily meals with one another with no electronics (ensures the family spends quality and meaningful time together).
  2. Making the bed every morning before the family starts their day (helps to create structure and predictability each morning).
  3. Having daily “family meetings” or simply taking the time to talk about each family member’s day.
  4. Creating time each night for a pre-bedtime chat with parents (this can include skype conversations or phone calls if family members happen to be away from the home, which can help to maintain connection).
  5. Scheduling one-to-one time between the parent/child on a weekly basis (can help enhance the relationship between parent and child).

Rituals can be useful for strengthening family values and can provide security and belonging within the family as family rituals often hold special meaning to each family, further helping to strengthen family ties. Rituals can include:

  1. Celebrating milestones and family successes (birthdays, graduations).
  2. Celebrating important dates for the family (anniversaries, holidays).
  3. Creating meaningful hello/goodbye rituals (phrases parents can say to children before leaving the home, or a hand shake).
  4. Spending time taking family photos, and looking through family photos albums regularly.
  5. Family pizza night once a month, or a theme night of the family’s choice (we know families can be busy and not every member can participate in daily dinner routines, so having a scheduled family night can help encourage and maintain family bonding).
  6. Collect family recipes! This can help create a connection between generations.

Wood’s Homes encourages family routines and rituals as they can help children and families develop important relationships, improve communication, develop values, provide consistency and safety, as well as teach families to be respectful of their own cultures, as well as others. If you need support navigating daily family interactions or implementing positive family routines or rituals, please call the community resource team 403-299-9699.


Spagnola, M., Fiese, B. H. (2007). Family Routines and Rituals: A context for development in the lives of young children. Infants & Young Children, 20(4), 284-299. doi: 10.1097/01.IYC.0000290352.32170.5a