There are only two blogs that I read regularly. Something that I like about them is that they are families that value time together and have some great traditions. An annual tradition on NieNie is the Back to School Feast. Stephanie works really hard and makes it a really big deal. Seeing what she puts into their evening makes my little Back to School Dinner plan look like gas station hot dogs.

This year, Stephanie and her family moved to a new state right before school started. She knew the dinner would have to wait until they were settled in and even delayed one more time because she wasn’t ready to make it what she wanted it to be.

Part of me says she could have toned down the plans and held it on time and the other part of me admires that she recognized she wasn’t in the right place to make the tradition what it could be.

I wish their school started a month before ours because I needed this lesson.

This year.

Instead, I went into Back to School night less than prepared (in a lot of ways) and tried to wing it.


Kids came home tired from their weekend away. I left work a few minutes late. My husband was not on the same page with me about the schedule for the night. Dinner wasn’t prepared in advance. And, the location was distracting.

After we ate Pizza Hut (not the menu I had wished), I had no one’s attention or patience. I pressed on.

This is supposed to be a nice night. This is a tradition. It’s fun. We’re doing it.

Until we weren’t.

Until I walked away, pretty much without them noticing.

Until I was crying in bed because the whole school year was already ruined and there is no point in me trying to foster any family traditions because

I’m the only one who cares.

Sounds reasonable, right?

After a total meltdown and a few weeks perspective, I can rationally think through the night and what I learned.

Traditions are important.

Traditions from when I grew up are still going on or are really important memories. As much as the tradition itself, it was that my parents recognized important events (or fun events) and valued the time we would spend together.

At our house, the kids are home only every other holiday. We want them to know and have memories that our time together is valuable and precious. We want them to recognize that there are events and days in our lives that deserve a little celebration.

An important thing to consider is what part of the tradition is really the tradition. Are you stressing out and spending too much time or money focusing on the little pieces that make it “cute” but are things that don’t really weigh into the importance of the tradition? Pick your battles.

If you look at Stephanie’s Back to School night, she took the time to make candle chandeliers to hang from the trees and hiked a hill a million times to set the dinner in the “perfect” spot. And, it looked awesome. But, instead of making the kids’ crowns she bought pre-made crowns. There are details that could have been downplayed or left out and the dinner still would have been spectacular. I like that on the Nielson-Back-to-Dinner-Scale, you can see that she made choices of what was going to work best for her this year.

Timing is even more important.

Sometimes our Christmas Eve breakfast is on the 23rd, because that’s when the kids are home. Sometimes, the Back to School Feast might need to be the Sunday before or after school starts so I’m not running home from work trying to make it all happen on a busy night.

Be flexible and realistic when planning for your special events. Being ready and not squishing it in between other things will help you, and the family, enjoy it. If the day gets away from you or a big part of the tradition isn’t going to work out without a little more preparation, reschedule.

A little planning can go a long way.

I did a lot of assuming this year. I assumed my husband remembered that Back to School is a big deal to me and takes the whole evening. I assumed we would have time to run our quick errands and still have a nice dinner, learn our new theme, and get ready for the next school day. I assumed the kids would be excited for the traditional dinner and theme and I would have their attention. They may have been excited, but I didn’t take into account their weekend away or the distracting environment before the night went downhill.

Communicate about what’s important.

I knew what was important to me on Back to School night, but I didn’t know in advance what anyone else thought about it. I didn’t tell my husband what the agenda was or ask for his help preparing so I didn’t really have his usual support. We’ve both been busy and focused on separate tasks because there has been so much to do at our house but this was something I needed him to know more about. Now that the event has passed and my emotions aren’t apart of the failure, we can visit as a family about what traditions, and what part of the traditions, we like the most.

Please leave a comment and tell me about your favorite family tradition.

From “The Family: A Proclamation to the World”