I love family living. I love the mess and the drama and the hormones. I love the way personalities and agendas and emotions swirl and flow within the walls of a home. Why do I love that sweet mess? Because it continually calls me higher. Having a Family is the best Self-Improvement Plan that was ever created and I mean that in all seriousness.
One of my big goals this year is to truly Create a More Beautiful Family Culture. We have a ways to go. We’ve sort of fallen to the lowest common denominator.
What do I mean by that? Well, the other day I was speaking with my husband, Russ, and I brought up a concern about our 15-year old son. The kid swears too much.
Do you know what my beloved told me? “Well, then stop swearing so much.”
Damn. Sigh. Do you see the issue? We are drifting.
In the last several weeks, I’ve been writing about my new understanding of HABITS and how we can use habits to take control of our lives and DESIGN a life that we actually LOVE.
That’s awesome. I love that and could rotate on that idea for months. I love looking at HABITS to change/improve our family culture.
“Culture” is the unique environment that you create for your children. They actually INHERIT your “way” of doing life. As such, it’s worth thinking about. It’s worth improving.
In this post: Creating A Beautiful Family Culture I asked you to think of ONE WORD that epitomizes your family right now. If you didn’t read that post, just think about last year and your family. What word would you use to describe it? Were you busy? Tranquil? Overwhelmed? Crazy? Focused? Healthy?
I sat with that question for a bit. And the word I chose was DISCONNECTED. Our family, although close, has felt disconnected. Why is this? Well, did I mention we have four teenagers, aged 15, 16, 17 and 19? They usually have their own agenda and aren’t afraid to share their feelings.
But I also know, as the heart of the home, I can lead my family to a Better Place. So that starts with thinking of our family right now....and then moving to what we want to achieve in our family life: CONNECTED.
Look at your word. If it is a positive, happy word, then kudos to you. But if the word you chose had more a of negative connotation, simply think of what you’d RATHER achieve. Example: if you were “Too Busy” last year, then this year you would focus on “More Peace” or “Relaxed.”
My ideal: Connection. When has our family felt the most connected?
How about you? What’s your word? When have you achieved a sense of that word in the past? If feasible, ask for input from your fam.
Jot those down.
Okay, go time. Look at your list. Let’s use HABITS to become more as a family.
First, use IMPLEMENTATION INTENTION.
If you remember from last post, our brains do best when we write down TIME and LOCATION. This means if we want a new idea to get out of the gate, we must schedule it.
Example: To promote connectivity, I’d like to add celebrations to our calendar.
How can I do that? Well, I’ve always wanted to celebrate our baptism dates. To make that happen: we got out our baptismal certificates and wrote out baptismal dates on the calendar. (Interestingly, this morning at Mass, the visiting priest said that our baptism should be celebrated even MORE than our birthdays. Cool affirmation, eh?)
How to make sure that we celebrate baptisms? Well, I have to make it fun. If I tell my children that I am going to get them a Baptism Box filled with their favorite snacks, I know they will remind ME of their baptisms.
We are currently discussing vacation spots for the year. We feel super connected (and sometimes terribly annoyed) with each each other on vacation. It’s crazy and fun and we WILL go on vacation this year.
When you look at your list, how can you create Implementation Intention strategies of Time and Place? Decide what you’d like to add to your weekly or yearly calendar and write it down. We will do X on this date: X.
Second, let’s look at HABIT STACKING.
When you think about your family culture, are there any places where you can stack a new habit onto something you already do?
There are some morning that are CRAZY at our house, especially when my girls wake up late. It feels like an emotional tsunami hit the joint. How can I make their mornings easier? Well, I could make sure they are up every morning but I’m not that mom. I don’t want to be their alarm clock. There are three of them going to school in the same car. If one is hitting the snooze button, it affects them all. So I’ve been hands-off of on that one.
But I can make our family feel more connected in the mornings by offering them a structured breakfast each morning. The habit I already have: I get up and I make my husband’s coffee and lunch. The habit I recently added: After I make Russell’s lunch, I will make breakfast for the kids.
I keep it simple by having all of the “fixings” available for a good breakfast. I usually make some sort of egg burrito or a “Mom McMuffin.” The girls like something they can “grab and go.”
This is a habit that I used to have but I fell away from it when I was dealing with some fatigue. I slept until 7:30 every morning the and the kids fended for themselves. I have no idea what they ate.
Now that I have been making breakfast again, they love it. After my David (age 11) and Thomas (15) eat, they grab a cup of coffee and we sit in the living room and chat. It's truly a nice feeling of connectivity.
The girls? Well, they are on the crazy train every morning, rushing to get themselves together. They don't sit and chat with anyone in the morning, but I do know that having a simple breakfast ready does make their mornings easier.
As the mother, you have tremendous power in your home. You are truly the architect; you get to design not only the physical parts of your home, but the spiritual, social and emotional aspects as well. All of your efforts build your family’s culture.
Be intentional. And remember, it’s not about being perfect. It’s about getting a little better each and every day.
And when you fall down, you get back up, apologize and enter in again. You CAN create a beautiful family culture.
On Monday I’d like to address the mother who has read my posts over the last several weeks and feels immobilized by the child on her lap, at her feet and in her womb.
Mama, I feel you. The next post is for you.