By Maria Dismondy
The new year is a great time to start fresh and gain a sense of clarity in your parenting. We have a few quick suggestions to help you evaluate what’s important for your family and to parent with intention this year.
Step 1: Create a Family Mission Statement
A Family Mission Statement is the perfect way to kick off the New Year. (And don’t worry, it’s simple and fun to do!) To create one, start by coming up with three core values that you and your partner wish to instill in your children. Our kids are 6, 8 and 10 years old, so for us, we chose kindness, work ethic and embracing childhood as our three values. We created a mission statement by putting these values into the following statement:
“In our family, we work hard, are kind and have fun.”
So simple! We went on to create a motto that we could say to our kids as a reminder of our family expectations. Think of a motto as relating to the mission statement, but more of a CliffsNotes condensed version. Our family motto is “Be a Dismondy.”
Start today! Sit with your partner and come up with your own Family Mission Statement. Keep in mind, your mission statement may change as the years go on and your children get older, so reevaluate throughout the years.
Step 2: Schedule Your First Family Meeting
Once you have your Family Mission Statement settled, it’s time to call your first Family Meeting. All you need to make this happen is a timer, a notebook and a writing utensil.
Family meeting how-to:
Gather your family and give each child a special role as either the timer or a note taker. I like to write up a quick agenda before each meeting and the notetaker checks off where we are on the list and helps us stay on track. Making children part of the meeting is key. They love being part of “something important” and will look forward to attending. Meeting frequency is totally up to you. Currently we host ours every other week.
A sample agenda looks like this:
1. Begin the meeting with compliments.
2. Ask, “What’s working in our family?”
3. Ask, “What areas can we make improvements?”
4. End the meeting with gratitude, hand shakes, hugs or high fives.
The meeting should last around 15 minutes to help keep everyone engaged. Mix up the topics each week.
Possible topics include:
-Review your weekly calendar.
-Include the kids in the planning a family vacation.
-Talk about problem solving.
-Discuss communication skills with friends and more!
Build the Family Meeting into your routine:
-Set a reminder on your phone to schedule the meeting.
-Mark it on your family calendar.
-Talk about it throughout the week. If an issue comes up in your family, remind your group, “This is a great topic for us to revisit during our family meeting!”
-Encourage family participation and new ideas.
Step 3: Goal Setting for Families
One of the main topics of our family meeting in January is to set goals for the quarter. Define what a goal is to your children. (Cheat sheet: A goal is an idea for the future that a person commits to achieving.) Brainstorm at least two actions your child can take to help reach their goal. Write down a check-in date (leave a reminder in your phone, too) to see how your child is doing and think of other actions they can take to help meet their goal if they haven’t achieved it yet.
Here’s a quick example:
Our daughter wanted to learn how to do the splits. We came up with two ways to help her do this: 1. Stretch before bed. 2. Practice once a day.
Share some of your own goals with your children as you model what it looks like to seek self improvement. I suggest making quarterly goals in the following areas: personal, relationship and your family.
Remember the key to success isn’t in the outcome, but in the journey we take to get there. Encourage children for their effort and perseverance and not just on their desired results.