Rethink family rituals.
When my kids were young, I was obsessed with a desire to have dinner as a family every single night. I had read the research on the importance of family meals and despite the fact that Steve and I rarely managed to get home from work before 7 - closer to the kids’ bedtime than their dinnertime - I would attempt to throw some kind of meal on the table before the kids had a total meltdown. Suffice it to say, I rarely succeeded. I would then complain to Steve that we had to get home earlier, that depriving the kids of warm family-dinner memories would lead them straight to the psychiatrist’s couch, and so on and so on. One night, Steve put his hands on my shoulders, looked me in the face, and said, "You’re in the wrong movie!" When I asked what he meant, he said wisely,"You’re holding up as the ideal the way your family bonded. But our family is different, and the kids will have lots of warm memories - not necessarily the same as yours or mine."
He was right. When I was a child , dinners at my home were sacrosanct. My father, an obstetrician-gynecologist, was the only family member permitted to answer the phone during mealtimes, and even at holiday meals, there was no such thing as a "kids’ table." The idea was to share news, debate, laugh, and, of course, enjoy the food. But because my father’s profession kept him tied to home, we rarely spent weekends or vacations off the island of Manhattan. And though I certainly didn’t feel deprived, I realized that our kids - then 4 and 8 - had already spent long summers in the Adirondacks, traveled to Florida, visited relatives in California, and though their memories of family time were not necessarily guaranteed to be brighter than mine, they would be very different.
If you tend to compare your family’s routines and rituals with those of your own childhood and find them wanting, keep in mind that one of the joys of parenthood rests in scripting and directing your own movies, finding your own ways to be there for (and with) your kids, and accepting the ways in which you can’t. That’s not to say you shouldn’t try to rekindle some of the traditions you enjoyed as a child, especially as a way of connecting your children to their grandparents’ generation, but incorporate only what works and feels right for your family.