Getting the family working together can seem like an uphill task.
As part of the back to school series, we are looking at ways to have a happier school year for everyone. Around the middle of the last school year you were doing a lot, maybe even too much. The children are growing and so should their responsibility within the family. I know it is easier if you do it yourself but we’re raising children to become adults so much of what we do is training, trying new things and encouragement. Today it is time for the family. Looking at these areas and ask what are they like in my family right now?
Many things happen by chance but we need to decide how we want our family to be and often work backwards to get to the goal. Are we an intentional family? What are we intentional about?
Areas to consider
meal times, bedtimes, homework before play, play before homework, contributions, reading, media, sports, nature ________ ?
Often our disposable income encourages us to spend more than we give and our children misunderstand the value of spending time and giving of themselves. It’s something we have to actively teach through our actions.
Areas to consider
unnecessary gifts ( supermarket, errand to the shops, pressured at the till), lack of age appropriate regular contributions, serving in age appropriate ways, giving of ourselves with no expectations of receiving.
It’s the habits we teach our children that they lean on and keep. What habits are we teaching them about family working together?
- Start by making sure you and your partner are on the same page with what you mean by the family working together and what it is that you will be working together as a family on. Do you want everyone to learn to sort, wash, dry and put away their laundry? or cook a meal once a week? Be ready in the morning independently? Not take each other’s things without asking? Walk the dog? Whatever the thing or things be united on one thing.
- Set an age appropriate goal and time limit. These are for us as parents to reevaluate and alter as needed. With young children the season is different to a mixed household where children span elementary, middle and a babe in arms.
There are many ways that this next stage happens and it really depends upon your family. One way that works is to call a meeting and share your vision. There’s often a lot of push back because we mostly don’t like change that means we have to do something. The good thing is that the parents are united.
Another approach is to take on each child at a time. During a connecting activity where you are together one on one where you’re usually sharing like going for a walk, washing dishes, folding laundry or sweeping the yard, start talking about how you learnt something from a family member. Talk about how families work together and how we’re going to do this more.
Set aside time to teach each part of the working together and expect there to be hiccups. Have grace and laughter come quickly to your lips than anything else as we boldly try to work together for the good of the family.
A great exercise for how the house runs is to list all the things that have to happen including the contributions. Get the children to list all the things that they have to do. Ask them what they would like to learn how to do.
Take time to explain how and why you keep a diary and to do list and why the children should understand and start using one too. Comment about when things don’t run smoothly what happened. Give the children a chance to notice and adapt.
As parents we are driving this family. To avoid burnout and getting caught up in the now we have to set our own trail.
Entitlement depletes families. Habits are powerful. Intention moves families.