This past month’s goals proved incredibly difficult to meet.
As with other families involved in this challenge, life seemed to get the best of of us this month. While we did spend a good deal of time engaging in kith and kin related activities; unfortunately, these activities were not as purposeful as we had hoped.
We did engage in the hike the kids had requested, created a shelter in the living room, answered countless random questions, and built many a fire; we (dad especially) sought to engage in some level of structured learning experiences as well. This is where we feel we have continued room for growth.
Because of this, we have decided to stick with this value family for another month. The activities we are most interested in focusing on this next month include:
*Engaging in supportive relationship building/growth as siblings/kind people
We will commit to planning at least one activity weekly, with the kids input, for at least one purposeful, meaningful growth activity per week. (with the hopes of continuing to encourage kith and kin and growth throughout the week.)
We hope we can find a way to integrate the busy holiday season and our goals of living our values daily (so many ways to give during the season, but also so many ways to get lost in the materialism.)
After discussing and laying out our values with our family, Mom and Dad checked in with our family’s progress. We’re embarrassed to say that we have not progressed as intended. We decided that our failure was primarily due to a lack of a control-document or process. Our plan is to devise a working system by end of month, in order to hold our family accountable to our values. This will help us into the future, as things are bound to get more hectic with a little one on the way!
Potential solutions included a picture (Easy to follow and use for the kids…and Dad), a simplified SOP (Editor’s note: SOP=standard operating procedures or an agreed upon, easily understood set of expectations that all concerned individual share in order to meet a shared goal), a printed control document and more structured verbal check-ins during family dinner. Mom and Dad feel that we could employ a blended strategy of all solutions.
“It’s rudimentary, but fun and engaging.”
We will put up a picture, which shows our values, so that we can easily reference our values and remind us to live them. Our picture will be placed under our family calendar in our kitchen and can also be seen from our primary eating space. The reason for that placement is that the proximity may assist us is because we play a game at dinner called, “Sweet and Sour”. The objective is to get someone to share the day’s Best and Worst as a spark of conversation. The fun is in being the first person to call out a fellow family member (or guest) and ask them for their input. We ask that the first topic be the Sour, so that we can end on a positive note, the Sweet. It’s rudimentary, but fun and engaging. Most importantly, it is a great tool with which we can learn about each other’s perspectives.
Sour before the Sweet in Sweet and Sour game during Family Dinner.
Additionally, going forward we are setting a goal to focus on one value per month. We will ensure we are living these values purposefully and proactively. At dinner, when our family is together, we will discuss how we exemplified that particular value. If we have not used that selected value that day, we can discuss where we could have used it or if it was appropriate for the situation or not.
I feel embarrassed to report that we have not yet created our “value tree”. It has been over a month since we came up with the draft and even went to the craft store to buy a poster board. Our kids asked when we would finally work on painting the tree for a week or two, but then the intention was lost in our day to day busyness. My husband and I committed to drawing it out last night, but then ended up spending time with friends instead (one of our values – friendships!). And then we postponed it to today, which was spent helping my mother-in-law (another value – family!) and cleaning/cooking/haircuts/laundry (these fit into two other values we identified: health and security!). I am excited that as I am writing this, I realize that even though we did not get around to our art project – we still lived our values 🙂
I really appreciate how this project helps us live a little more mindfully.
I also noticed that even though we did not find time to sit down and talk specifically about our values since last month, we still were able to talk about them with our children. We often explained to the kids that the reason we do X, is because we value Y. For example, when we explored our local pumpkin farm to pick out our Halloween pumpkins last weekend, we explained that our outing helped us live several values: family, nature/outdoors, enjoyment, and inquisitiveness. And today when my daughter helped me with the laundry and then I helped her with cleaning her hamster cage, we talked about how our teamwork helped us live the values “family, kindness, and courtesy”.
I really appreciate how this project helps us live a little more mindfully. Hopefully, by recognizing when and how we live our values every day and pointing them out to our children, we can all incorporate our values and appreciation for them into our daily routine.
On a side note, our son created a “Fruit of the Spirit Handprint Tree” at preschool. His class is learning about Galatians 5:22-23 “but the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” We all thought it was really neat that his preschool project was so very similar to our home project. This further facilitated many conversations about our values, and we are planning to somehow incorporate our son’s preschool project into our family’s value tree. …Once we finally get it 🙂
We are officially more than a month into attempting to live our values daily. For those of you not following the monthly check-ins, our family chose to attack one value set at a time, with quality time with kith and kin being our first value goal. While not meeting the lofty goal of living this value daily, there have been some notable changes:
We, the parents, are more aware of our engagement with the kids. I noticed we spent less time on our phones or computers, engaged one another and the kids in conversations, and had less family movie nights this past month than we have in several months.
We, as a family, have been purposeful in planning our weekends to ensure we had time for family activities that were enjoyable. This required a good deal of sacrificing on all sides (no dissertation work on weekends till kids went to bed for me, less time with friends for my husband, and skipping a sleep over for our oldest.) Everyone agrees it was worth it. We played at the playground on the zipline and the climbing wall, went to the circus, cooked and ate dinners together, went to sports games as a whole family even when it wasn’t necessary, and hosted get togethers with friends and family. Our weekends were truly focused on kith and kin.
When having our monthly family meeting, the kids shared that they were happy with this experiment so far. They shared they felt “more important” and “more loved” over the past few weeks as my husband and I took the time to connect with them over their interests and in a conscious manner. It means something to them that we consciously chose playing with them over sitting and talking to one another, or working on our school/work projects.
Moving forward, we plan to continue forward with our momentum towards the goal of engaging in activities focused on kith and kin this month, but also focused on learning and growth in some way, shape or form. The kids requested hiking, exploring the world around them, and learning skills they would need “to survive by ourselves in the woods.” We, the parents, have our goal of providing the kids with the kind of learning experiences they are requesting and increasing our own knowledge of gardening and canning in such a way that we are also enjoying quality time with one another. (Secondarily, I have made it a goal to actually look up the answers to all the questions the kids ask that I don’t know and say “let’s google it when we get home.” Starting with this: the horses we saw the other day were probably wearing coats because they had been recently bathed, the owner didn’t want them to get dirty, or they had a recent hair cut and may have been a bit chilled.)
What have you always wanted to learn? What’s stopping you? Is there something you can do this next month to grow in your learning, knowledge, abilities in some small way? Join us!
When my husband and I heard about this implementing values in our family’s lives more intentionally, we jumped right in to be a part of it.
“…but the reality is we did not set time aside to do it, period”
Of course, a month, or maybe even two, has gone by and we have yet to sit down and talk about what those values will be or are. It seems as if whenever we are called to do something positive and sacrificing at all, whether it be for ourselves, our family or others, everything and anything gets in the way. I could sit here and give all the excuses of how this last month TRULY was one of the most hectic months we’ve had (which is why we were unable to have our sit-down conversation as a couple and family about what our values are), but the reality is we did not set time aside to do it, period.
Due to only getting our children every other weekend as of right now, we will need to wait to have the conversation as a family until next weekend. In the mean time, when my husband can sit still from working and traveling so much before our little girl comes at the end of the month, he and I will sit down together and communicate our goals and values as a unit. At times, as I’m sure you all experience, it feels impossible to sit down and calm our minds down to place where we can speak on these topics.
This project of instilling much needed values will be a great thing for us to say the least! He and I were excited about this project, because many times we have spoken about ideas and goals we would like to attain with our children, and as a married couple. A few of those include: intentional prayer together as a couple and family (aside from just the “prayer before meals” kind of prayer), kindness incentives for the kids, as well as us as parents, respect, etc. We are very excited to act on these desires we have had, and live out these values for our family, rather than just speak on them. We also look forward to getting back to you all with our written down values which we will acquire here very soon. 🙂
We were approached by our close friends to take part in an evaluation of our values, with a challenge to live them more consistently. In accepting the invitation, my wife and I thought it would be best to talk about this journey over a family dinner, with our children. Once we were seated at the table, Mom and Dad introduced the idea and told the kids about the invitation that we accepted. We then asked our kids to define, “values”. A value was defined (for the sake of our journey, put your dictionary down!) as a trait or characteristic that helped to guide your actions, consistently. This was a fun discussion which allowed us to better understand our family’s idea of values and what our kids found to be important.
“Our son was the first person to choose his value. He stated that he appreciated Loyalty.”
After defining, ‘value’, we all threw out some ideas on what our primary values should be. After a fair bit of discussion, we thought asking each person to identify their most important value would be a great place to start our journey. After all, we can change or add values as we embark on living them more fully. Our son was the first person to choose his value. He stated that he appreciated Loyalty. When we asked him to clarify his meaning, he told us that being loyal to family and friends (his verbiage: “to the people closest to you”) can help others to feel appreciated. When we understood his approach, we agreed that this would be a great value with which to guide our actions.
Mom was next and her top value was Teamwork. Mom is currently pregnant, works nights, and is often operating on very little sleep. She works her tail off to take care of the kids, husband, household and her very best friend, Jessie the dog (Actually, she hates that dog!). We discussed the importance of jumping in to help complete household chores. Our kids have repeatedly stated that they didn’t want to clean up a mess that wasn’t made by them personally. We discussed the importance of sharing the responsibility of the house and land, while looking after each other if one or two people are doing the work required of a growing family. Not only does a shared responsibility help save time, it creates an environment of shared trust and support; no more grey man! Additionally, we discussed how this value can be closely tied to Loyalty with our friends. Using Teamwork to overcome obstacles or meet goals creates a tighter bond with your teammates. We all agreed that a loyal teammate is someone that we all strive to be.
We found it interesting that our daughter suggested the idea of Safety/Security(her verbiage: “Feeling safe”) as something she valued. This was perplexing, as we live in a safe ‘country’ neighborhood and we thought that she was surrounded by an abundance of safety at home, school and otherwise. She went on to say that safety was important for everyone because it allows them to share ideas more clearly. When we asked her to clarify, she said that she feels more comfortable sharing information with her family if she feels safe, physically and emotionally. Maslow would be proud!
“We decided that using Respect is critically important to holding each other accountable for our family values.”
Finally, Dad threw out the value of Respect. We discussed the perspective of that value and how it tied neatly into the others. While we want to create a physically and emotionally safe environment and support each other by being loyal teammates, we need to do this in a respectful manner. When speaking to other family members (Yes, Mom, including the dog…*Mom glares) or our friends, we need to be aware of our audience. Understand another person’s perspective and use an appropriate tone when speaking to them, for instance. We also tied in the respect of our house, similar to that discussed in our paragraph about Teamwork. We decided that using Respect is critically important to holding each other accountable for our family values. When discussing issues or values with other family members, it is important to remember to be present in the conversation (no phones!), and be clear but respectful about feedback. Being respectful is also the responsibility of the listener to check emotions and be open to the thoughts of the speaker.
We are looking forward to exploring these values, implementation and feedback over the coming months. We’re excited to share this journey with our other friends and any readers.