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Easter treasures: Connect, reflect, refresh

Parenting Place Easter family traditions

Here we are at Easter, a season rich in tradition and a timely moment to press pause and have some downtime as a family. Which got us thinking about the value of family rituals and the long list of profound benefits that family traditions offer our kids. Benefits like a sense of security, identity and belonging can be found in even the simplest of family traditions. I (Ellie) remember that the Easter break would reliably feature hot cross buns, church and chocolate, but also a ride on the tractor to the back of the farm to load firewood onto the trailer with my brothers. My parents might not have realised it at the time, but being a part of ‘team firewood’ spoke loudly into my sense of belonging, almost as much as the faith and food components of the long weekend.

Family traditions are powerful because they shine a spotlight on togetherness and celebration. They create positive feelings and shared memories in kids and grown-up family members alike, enhancing a sense of ‘this is who we are and this is what we do’. They also strengthen family values and help us pass these values on to our children. And while rituals and traditions look different for every whānau, we hope the following reflections from Parenting Place staff members spark joy and perhaps even some inspiration in your whare.

Hide and seek

Jenny Hale, Family Coach:

I do love to pause at Easter – it really is a significant time in the calendar. So church is usually on the agenda. Our kids grew up with the Easter meaning throughout the year but we did revisit it at Easter time and had some great storybooks to enjoy. Nothing overly gory, but good ones that helped our kids know why this was a time to be thankful and to also know why our country was having a holiday.

The only other thing we really do as a tradition these days is the Easter egg hunt. I recently asked our two oldest grandkids (aged 12 and 7) if they felt that they were too old for those silly egg hunts but they were absolutely convinced that the purchase and hiding of eggs is still vitally important! So we will do that again, and I will forget where I have hidden some eggs so I'll find an ant trail a few days later or some shrivelled up pretty foil sometime in November.

I hide eggs with a varying degree of conspicuousness, and there is a general and quiet understanding that if you find more than your share – you might just even it out a bit later.

We also often use the weekend to do a wider family thing – usually a meal together or a beautiful bush walk. It reminds us to take time to reconnect and to make the most of nature and the autumn leaves.

An historic centenary

Pio Terei, Pou Tangata and Kaikōrero:

This Easter is going to be extra special for me as we’re celebrating the 100th anniversary of one of our churches in the Hokianga. The Easter break gives whānau far and wide the opportunity to travel and celebrate this event.

For me, it’s all about connection around history, stories, food and laughter … to remember the ones we have lost and give strength to each other. In the centre of all this is this church where we all have spent time – a place that has connected us all for so long. In these challenging times, this weekend will be a huge boost for us all. I hope everyone reading this enjoys a happy Easter with kindness and whānau.

In these challenging times, this weekend will be a huge boost for us all.

Poetry in motion

Dayna Galloway, Presenter:

My husband loves to write the most elaborate rhyming clues for our kids to help them find where their chocolate eggs are hidden. I have to stifle a laugh as whoever is taking a turn reading the clue butchers the rhyme – and the effectiveness of the clue!

On the harder side of things, this will be my second Easter without my dad. Dad loved Easter and having an excuse to spoil my kids with way more chocolate that two preschoolers could ever need. Last Easter he got my kids eggs that came with farm animals. They still play with those animals so it will be nice to have them out as part of our Easter breaky and egg hunt this year. But I will miss giving my dad a shake of the head and hearing his cheeky laugh at knowing he’d overdone it again.

I will miss giving my dad a shake of the head and hearing his cheeky laugh at knowing he’d overdone it again.

Climb every mountain

Katherine Tarr, Child and Family Psychologist:

As a family, we love adventures. So that means every public holiday we get out of town and into nature. This usually involves a lot of physical activity, cooking over an open fire and sleeping in a tent. Also lots of sandflies and mosquito bites.

Sometimes the adventure is challenging (the food gets burned on the cooker, we get blisters and tired legs, we have to walk uphill… in the rain… with a heavy packs on our backs). When we get back to normal life and the comforts of home, the challenges are forgotten. What remains is the happy memories of playing cards in a tramping hut, jumping off a cool rock into the river and a sense of closeness that comes from walking and talking together for six hours straight. I see in my kids a sense of identity develop – as individuals and also as a family – as we go on these adventures. We are able to walk a long way, to tackle tough rock-climbing routes and do things that scare us. We are capable and tough and brave.

On Easter weekend adventures, we add in the following elements – reading the Easter story, eating hot cross buns on Good Friday and an egg hunt on Sunday (you won’t believe the places the Easter Bunny has travelled to!). We try to incorporate a gratitude discussion where we talk about all the things we are grateful for. And if at all possible, we like to have a feast with lamb somewhere in the mix, symbolising Jesus’ sacrifice. Sometimes this is roast lamb, but it’s just as likely to be lamb souvlaki cooked on a campfire we’ve made beside a river.

I see in my kids a sense of identity develop – as individuals and also as a family – as we go on these adventures.

Making the most of it

Sheridan Eketone, Family Coach and Presenter:

Our kids plan our Easter egg hunt with a budget for eggs and a determined plan to find the best deals for the MOST chocolate. Every year we debate (and, to be fair, forget) which day the eggs should be opened.

Easter for our whānau is also a time of reflection for our faith and that usually involves time at church or attending a reflective space called Stations of the Cross.

Celebrating togetherness

Holly Brooker, Communications Specialist and Presenter:

We have primary-aged kids so Easter is very much centred around chocolate and being together with family. Over the long weekend, we travel south to visit our wider family – aunties, cousins and grandparents – eat too much food, play games and laugh a lot (sometimes there are tears).

We have an Easter egg hunt for the younger kids and carbo-load on hot cross buns loaded with butter, as a symbol of new life and love (while giving us more motivation for a new fitness regime). We love to build on the tradition of family-centred fun during this time. It's also a chance to kick back a notch and enjoy reconnecting as we move out of the busy summer period into the winter months.

We eat half our annual chocolate quota in one four-day weekend.

Sweet indulgence

Kim Smith, Marketing Director:

Easter is a full-on fun chocolate fest where we have a real family-oriented weekend catching up with extended whānau, doing Easter treasure hunts and enjoying a meal or three together. We pray and talk about the meaning of Easter (at age appropriate levels for our young family) and attend a church service together on Sunday. And we eat half our annual chocolate quota in one four-day weekend.

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For over 25 years, Parenting Place has been here offering support and advice to New Zealand parents. We think that with the right support, parenting any age and stage can be a relatively stress-free and fun experience. You're doing great!


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