Tom Watson's Blog

Establishing Traditions

Tom Watson - Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Traditions offer parents and children a chance to share time together in a unique way, seperate from the day-to-day routines. Establishing traditions with our families is very important all throughout the year. However, the holiday season may be the time of year that best lends itself to the establishment of traditions worth cherishing for years to come.

In Man Shoes, I share some of my family's traditions, as well as tips and ideas for implementing your own traditions. I've always had a creative approach to building unique traditions around special events like Christmas, as clearly outlined in Chapter 10 when I share the story of shooting Santa. Traditions have the ability to strengthen bonds and unite families.

Here are some of my thoughts and tips on building traditions within your own families:
  1. You don't have to shoot Santa, but you do need to create and celebrate your own traditions with your family, which will lead to many great memories.
  2. Traditions can only be successful if you consistently sustain them over the years.
  3. Simple and inexpensive traditions are best.
  4. A tradition is only as good as the joy it creates. Experiencing happy traditions will encourage your children to pass them on to their children.
(Shared from Man Shoes, p. 174) 

I'm sure you can see all of the potential opportunities for creating traditions throughout the holidays. Hopefully you already have a few of your own in place, even if you don't realize you've built a tradition. Activities as simple as leaving cookies and coffee (instead of milk) for Santa, or eating breakfast in pajamas on Christmas morning become traditions that everyone looks forward to year after year.

If you have been wanting to establish some traditions this time of year, here are some ideas to help get you started. Make them your own with a unique twist that fits your family perfectly and before you know it, you'll be enjoying the same activity with your grandchildren!

  • Make decorating a family affair, both inside and outside. Task the kids with deciding where the lights should be hung and how the manger pieces should be arranged. Let them be a part of the whole process as much as possible, and be flexible with their suggestions.
  • Choose a few holiday movies that are family favorites and spend a night having a movie marathon. Sip hot chocolate, snuggle under blankets and most importantly, make sure everyone stays up past bedtime!
  • Bundle everyone in their pajamas and pile in the car. Take along a thermos of hot chocolate and some Christmas cookies (or grab some fast food that's suitable for eating in the car) and then drive around your city "oohing" and "aahing" over the decorated homes.
  • Make Christmas presents for the birds and squirrels by spreading peanut butter on pine cones and rolling in bird seed. Together, hang them from trees in your yard. Then, watch the thankful animal feast from the cozy comfort of indoors.
  • Perform a dramatic retelling of "Twas The Night Before Christmas," putting your own spin on the tale by personalizing it with family names or activities. Or, help the kids practice and perfom their own version.
There are no rules to establishing traditions - just think of what your family loves and find a way to make it special and unique. What traditions do you already have in place with your family? 

Spouse First, Children Second

Tom Watson - Friday, November 11, 2011

When we are in the throws of parenthood - spending long days cleaning messes, wiping bottoms and hugging squirming toddlers - it can be easy to lose touch with our spouse. After all, these little people in our care can be quite demanding. Even as they grow and become more independent, our children still require much of our time and attention. Now add in the rest of life’s realities, such as work, chores and familial obligations, and who has time to even think about our spouse, much less make him or her a priority?

But honestly, you must! There is no earthly relationship more important than the one with your spouse. This may seem counter-intuitive for parents since our children NEED us much more literally than our spouses. Yet when we make the effort to make relationship with our spouse the top priority, the whole family benefits.

Here are just a few of the many ways you and your family benefit from spouses putting each other first:

  1. Provide safety and stability. When mom and dad show love and affection for each other, their children notice. They feel secure that they are part of a loving home. Also, a marriage where each partner focuses on the other with respect is much more likely to provide a stable, long-lasting family home.

  2. Lead by example. There is no greater way to show children how to love, respect and show compassion than by modeling those behaviors on a regular basis. Seeing as how watching mom and dad interact is their first true look at the dynamics of a relationship, children will learn to treat others the same way their parents treat one another.

  3. Help your children to understand their place in the world. Children are not the center of the universe and the sooner they learn this, the easier their lives will be. When mom and dad make time for each other and display the importance of that time, their kids will quickly realize that they are not guaranteed 100% attention 100% of the time, and that that is okay!

  4. When mom and dad are happy, everyone else is happy. A home led by constantly arguing or unhappy parents is an unhappy home for all. When mom and dad make the decision to put each other above all else, including the children, their marriage thrives and the rest of the household falls in line.

  5. Create a lasting legacy. Children will grow up and likely get married themselves someday. They will learn what to do and what not to do based on the relationship they witnessed from their parents. A happy marriage, one where mom and dad always put each other first, is easy to emulate.

There is an old saying that says: “The greatest gift a father can give his children is to love their mother.” That simple truth goes both ways and it is absolutely worth the effort to remember and exhibit that every day.


Tom Watson - Monday, June 06, 2011
Hi, I'm Tom Watson and welcome to the new Man Shoes blog.

Stay tuned for up to date, relevant information about my book and other exciting events relating to my recent book Man Shoes.