With the new year comes new hope, new opportunities and a chance at a new direction. It’s a good time to start new projects, resign from things that are no longer suited to you and to simply reevaluate where your family is going. We recently wrote our family vision statement and you can read it here.
I think it’s important to know what your family’s priorities are. Perhaps you already know what they are and find it easy to live that out. Or perhaps you don’t. Maybe you can easily name your priorities, but don’t see them reflected in your lifestyle and parenting practices. I have found the best way to keep my goals in front of me is to declare them, make sure I mean them and to write them down as a plan. It doesn’t mean I can’t change it later or I have to beat myself over the head with it if I forget about it from time to time. It is just a way to remind us what’s really important in life, and it can be an interesting conversation between mother and father, and the entire family together.
Thoughts on creating a family vision and values statement.
1) It will help clear your schedule of things that don’t matter. Think of the value statement similar to your schedule. If you prioritized your time and athletics were located at #7 and time with children at #2 but you spent 3 times as much time on sports than with your kids, you would know to swap some things around, right? The same goes with our parenting vision. Mothers, particularly if you are stay at home mothers, have many hours during the week in which to be with your children. Time is spent in training, teaching, having fun, reading, doing crafts, sports, going on walks, shopping, etc. If you sit back and determine what is important to you (and, if your children are old enough, what is important to them) then you can use that to help plan your time and activities. There never seems to be enough time in the day or the week or the year for everything so that’s where knowing your priorities comes in handy.
2) It will help you understand what it is your children value and if you have properly communicated your values to them. You might think you value something, yet realize you don’t spend any time doing it or communicating it to your children. You’d say you value service to your community, but don’t currently do any service. Since we all know children are far more impacted based on what we do than what we say, this is an opportunity to put some service (or whatever your value is) into your routine.
3) When thinking of what you value, you can determine what things should be avoided. We often focus on the positives, which is great. Part of focusing on a positive, in my opinion, is also determining its negative so that you can avoid and protect against it. If you value wholesome and innocent entertainment for your children (whether in the form of cartoons or books or whatever else) then you will need to determine what is NOT wholesome and innocent and protect your children from it. Know what shows, movies or books you want to avoid and then make sure they don’t slip through the cracks. Part of our responsibility as parents in raising responsible children is that we protect them from things that will do them harm. Not protect them to their detriment (as in, over protection that leaves them vulnerable and insecure) but protect them so they are not exposed to things that will be unhealthy and harmful to their development.
4) Writing our values can help you make the leap to practical ways of carrying it out. The (current) last point on my list is below.
Our house hopes to be one of fun and adventure. When our children get older we hope they will
not look for constant opportunities to go elsewhere, but think of our home as a place to invite others. To
try to accomplish this we will be hospitable, practice the art of entertaining, and have a home
suited to fun activities that will suit children and kids at every life stage.
I know what teenagers try to get up to. If there isn’t enough “to do” at our house or someone else’s dad seems more fun or someone’s mom orders Domino’s more often, the kids will flock there. We want our house to be an atmosphere of fun and also to have practical things that make it easy to entertain others. Growing up my grandparents (who lived very close to me) had a pool and a golf cart. Papa brought home his old golf cart every time he purchased a new one and, believe you me, we had a monster time riding that golf cart around. And, you know what, we still do. We ride it around to pick flowers, pick up sticks, do yard work, you name it. Goals will be different for everyone based on where their home is located and the amount of land, etc. but we hope to put in a pool, have some sort of golf cart-esque fun mobile, a basketball hoop, etc. We’ll make the atmosphere and the activities welcoming and see what happens. It’s no guarantee our children will think the house is fun and they won’t try to go elsewhere all the time, but it’s a start and a step in the right direction towards meeting our goal. Of course, physical things and “toys” are not what make a home atmosphere welcoming by themselves, don’t misunderstand, and they will only have any impact if your children already enjoy your company.
I’ve created a flyer size (a5) printable that you can use to brain storm the vision and values of your family. If you have children who are old enough to participate, I encourage you to print out enough for each family member to fill out separately. You never know, you may learn a lot about what your children and spouse value and what they care to accomplish as a family. More fun, more service, less fighting, more freedom. The list goes on. Click below to download the printable and get started planning your family’s direction.
Remember, this isn’t just another thing to burden you. It’s a way to lift burdens off your shoulder that don’t actually meet your family goals. You may surprise yourself!