The other day I thought I was having serious computer problems. When I tried to guide the mouse, the curser seemed to have a mind of its own. It certainly wasn’t going the direction I intended. Fortunately it didn’t take me too long to realize I had the mouse upside down. Do you ever feel like family life is like that? You’re doing your best to guide it along, but instead of running like it should, it’s all over the page.
The beginning of the school year can be challenging, but also a great time to take steps toward order. One of my clients has four kids in four different schools. The driving schedule alone can drive a person crazy! Add to that sports, music, gymnastics, homework, etc. and it’s a recipe for fast-food Fridays every night of the week.
There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to creating a functional family, but here are a few tips and tools to consider if peace and productivity is a priority in your home.
Family Mission - What's your overall goal for your family? Does you family have a clear sense of what's most important in life? When this is defined, written out, and talked about as a family, it serves as a plumb line for where your family feeds its energy and time, and how you interact with each other and those outside your family. If you don't choose your family priorities, there are plenty of outside influences that will. More info: Family Mission Statements
House Rules - When I was teaching Sunday School we had one rule -- Respect. That's a great place to start in a family, too. Respect needs to go in all directions-- children to parents, parents to children, respect other's property and your own. A family that values respect can't help but create more peace and unity. Collaborate with your children about other house rules-- homework schedule, video game time, curfews, etc. Establish appropriate rewards and consequences. When everyone is very clear about the expectations, it thwarts a lot of arguing and stress.
Chores - Besides providing our kids with opportunities to learn academics, sports, music, dance, etc. it's our job as parents to give them the skills they needs to manage their own households someday. Good managers don't do all the work themselves. They equip a team that works together for the common good. As your family's manager, be clear on what, how, and when chores needs to be done. Even if your kids buck the idea (and they will!) they'll experience an increased sense of self-worth and belonging as they contribute to the family. For specific chore ideas visit The Chores Kids Can Do, By Age Group.
Routines - Ready to eliminate nagging? When my daughter taught preschool, her three-year-old class learned routines like putting their things in cubbies as they arrived. Schooldays are built on routine like that. These simple practices can be duplicated at home. Plan and write out routines for before school, after school, and bedtime. Building routines takes consistent practice, so don't give up easily! Of course you'll have to be flexible at times, but as your routines become habits, the nagging can subside and your kids will be more responsible. Don't underestimate the power of routines to maintain order, or the ability of your family to learn them. Even three-year-olds can do it!
Family Fun - Be sure to build in some family fun too! Maybe Saturday morning pancake breakfasts, or Friday pizza and game nights. Collaborate about your next family vacation or let the kids each pick an activity and destination for a day trip. Volunteer together at a charity function or local non-profit that benefits those less fortunate. These practices help establish strong family ties, reinforce values, and make your family more FUNctional!
Track it all - COZI is a free app and website that helps you track your family's schedules, chores, meals, and more!
If you want to call a family meeting, just turn off the wi-fi router and wait in the room in which it is located. --Unknown