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How to Spread Love: The Power of Rituals

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As adults, we know that transitions can be tough. Moving somewhere new, starting a new job, or going through a major life change such as a divorce or loss of a loved one change our realities and can leave us feeling lost, or at least a little off-balance. And while transitions are hard for us, they can be even more difficult for children.

Zoey is an incredibly well-adjusted child, but she’s always struggled in times of transition. In an effort to make challenging times easier for her, I’ve always tried to create special little rituals that served to offer her consistency and comfort. Many of these rituals will be lasting, while others may only be temporary. But no matter how long they may exist, they all serve important roles.

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As Meg Cox, author of “The Book of New Family Traditions: How to Create Great Rituals for Holidays & Every Day”, explains, “[t]hrough rituals and traditions . . . you are building the bond of your joined identity, defining your relationship by acting it out.”

Zoey and I started our rituals and built upon our joined identity with the creation of a little, pretend black mouse named Lulu, who was conjured up one morning as I drove Zoey to her new school and she was scared for the day ahead. All of a sudden that silly mouse appeared out of nowhere and, after hopping up on the steering wheel to help us get to school, she jumped into Zoey’s backpack so they could navigate preschool together.

When I started my new job, Lulu started coming to work with me, and then Zoey and I started the ritual of sharing what antics Lulu had been up to that day. And then because that job changed our morning routine, it left Zoey feeling a little off-balance, and I started the ritual of “morning cards.”

On Sundays, I would take an hour and make her 5 little cards, one for each school day of the upcoming week. Their messages would vary – from little drawings to words of encouragement such as “You are so brave!” or “Your smile makes me happy” or “I believe in you” or “Make today great!” I’d hand one to her after I buckled her in the car, and it became such an important part of our morning that if I’d forgotten the card in the house, Zoey would remind me to go get it.

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One of my cards to Zoey

Making those cards took time, and in my busy life—filled with chores and work and having impromptu dance parties— that time was sometimes hard to find. But I made the time, because the cards and the messages they conveyed and the support they offered to my daughter were all worth it.

Though circumstances and Zoey’s own growth have made that morning ritual disappear, the most amazing thing is that the intention and action behind establishing that ritual has come full circle: Zoey regularly comes home now with her backpack bursting with cards she has created for me.

I mean, think about that: Establishing that ritual in the past has directly impacted her expression of love and caring today. It has helped define what she finds important. Rituals have helped shape how she faces challenges (like a boss!), and in times of future struggle, either we can use what we’ve done in the past for comfort, or we can create new ones that help support her and connect us even further.

Isn’t this what our lives really are? A series of rituals, all mostly done out of love?

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One of Zoey’s notes to me.

I love Zoey’s cards just as much as I loved creating cards for her. Mostly she shares her drawings, but now that she is learning to write, almost every time there are these words: I love you. Zoey is always excited to have me open or unfold that message of love. Watching her face reiterates what I’ve always known about love: giving it often touches our souls more than the act of receiving it. There need to be more things in life like that, where everyone benefits.  

Right now, after I post this, for old time’s sake, I’m going to sit down and write a little note to Zoey, so when she hands me hers, I’ll hand her mine. On our way home from school, we will tell Lulu stories, how that funny little mouse created a commotion at my work and how Lulu ate all the kindergartners’ snacks at Zoey’s school. Later, as I tuck her in bed, we will tell each other about our days asking important questions, sharing, listening, and loving. And that love, the love we pass back and forth in the rituals we share in both good times and in bad, will sustain our days and give us hope and help us know that we are never alone.

What ritual can you create that might be passed down to your loved ones? A ritual that might help create a better today and, inevitably, better tomorrows? It’s especially important to think about these things during the holidays, times where rituals and traditions are so deeply ingrained. Maybe it’s something new, or perhaps it’s something that comforted you or brought you joy as a child. Most likely, someone will feel the same way you do about it.

And remember the specific ritual doesn’t matter, because the connection you are creating will be everlasting, and the meaning behind it will be the same:

I love you.

You are important.

You matter to me.

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Share the below image with someone you love! Email it to them, or post it to their Facebook page, or put it up on Instagram and tag them, or Snapchat it, or do whatever you want to do with it. Encourage them to share the love too! And to make it even easier, we’ve written the text for you below.

You Are Loved! And because love is better when we share it, help spread some more by sharing this with someone YOU love. Pass it on…❤

So what are you waiting for? Spread some love today!

(Click on the image below to share on Facebook.)

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42 thoughts on “How to Spread Love: The Power of Rituals

  1. Thank you for sharing your wonderful post at #OverTheMoon. I look forward to what you will share next week! Do something special. Give yourself a standing ovation today! We hope you’ll come back again next Sunday when we open our doors at 6:00 PM EST. “Like” someone in person today!

  2. I’m trying to have more rituals for the little man and I. One of our biggest ritual right now is cooking together every day at the same time. I know it doesn’t seem like much to most people, but to us it means the world.

  3. I love this idea… There’s never enough love out there, we can always use a little more. Going to try to develop some new rituals for my kiddo and I.

  4. This is so great. My kids start new school about every 3 years. My 6 year old has always been anxious and nervous. I’ll definitely remember this for our upcoming move.

  5. Rituals are an important part of building trust in our children. When they learn they can trust it plants seeds of confidence, faith, and hope. You are doing an amazing job with Zoe! I love reading about all of the wonderful ideas and things you do together.

  6. This couldn’t have come at a better time. We are bout to have 2 major changes in our lives this year so I need to incorporate this in our lives. My son is 3 and half so he doesn’t know how to read yet, how old is Zoe? What do you suggest for younger children.

  7. Oh, how I love this. I think it’s one of the reasons I love being a special education teacher. Instead of exiting out a class of students and accepting a new batch of students, I remain with the kids from Kinder-5th. So we get to create rituals that we do year after year. It is so very special for them. And it is so so very special for me. <3

  8. This is such a wonderful idea. My son was diagnosed with severe OCD at the end of 2016. He’s been struggling with general anxiety for quite sometime now but it had exploded into full blown OCD after a teacher had bullied him into a pulp (he picked on him for being too anxious in class). So every day that year, I wrote him notes and tucked them in his lunch or in his back pack or in his agenda. Just words of encouragment to get him through the day….because his principal refused to pull him from that class with that horrible no good teacher. They made the world of a difference. He’d come home and say “Thank you so much for telling me that I was a good reader or this or that …”
    He looked forward to them.
    I love this so much. We can do so much for our children by giving them such positive words each day and doing these extra little bits. xoxox

  9. I love the impromptu dance party idea! I have an 8m old son, so this article was really insightful. It is so important to create memories and rituals. Love it!

  10. I love the card idea you share with Zoe. They’re absolutely adorable. I had many daily rituals with the kids when they were little. A lot of those they actually turned into traditions and I didn’t find out until years later. Keep up the great work awesome Mommy!

  11. I love the idea of creating rituals! My son often struggles with transitions, so I think starting something like your mouse or notes would be good! I’ll have to think of what I can do!

  12. This is super sweet! I love your intention in creating rituals! It’s funny, I’ve thought of creating traditions around the holidays, and rituals in my own routine, but I haven’t explored creating rituals WITH someone to consistently weave love into your day. I love this idea! Thank you for sharing!

  13. Thanks for sharing this story. It is so true—the power of affirmations. I do this on the daily through various vehicles and it is indeed life-changing. What a blessing your daughter has to have YOU in her life! xo~D

  14. I really need to revisit this – currently, the only ritual I share with the girls is tossing a stormtrooper Angry Birds plush head at them whenever we see each other!

    Lulu reminds me of a small multi-colored stuffed turtle that served a similar purpose to a girl in the only fiction piece I’ve written yet. She was in middle school and still carried it around, so I think Lulu will have many more happy years.

    The way you’ve modeled this expression of love and appreciation is inspiring, Corey. We often keep these sentiments inside, for fear of … well, a lot of things. What a shame that we miss out on giving someone the joy of reminding them they’re loved, and also the lift we get in getting to show them.

  15. Beautiful! I love the idea of the cards. Transitions are definitely harder on the kids sometimes.

  16. Lovely post! My husband and I practice the ritual of the “swiggle” (well, I practice it and he endures it 😉 ha!). It was born from a fortune cookie fortune (Life’s not a struggle, it’s a wiggle!) and my love for word play that combined snuggling and wiggling. Rituals are very important… and so is play, even after we grow up!

  17. What a beautiful tradition to share with your daughter! Such beautiful memories you’re creating together. I completely agree that having even the smallest of rituals can maintain some type of stability in this chaotic world.

  18. This is so awesome and such a great idea. When my sons make art at school, I include them in my art journal. We have a little weekend ritual on the weekends, we make art together.

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