Some friends think we are taking the corporate culture back in our family life a little too far. We’d say, we are taking the best of both worlds (and having fun at the same time) 🙂
Why did we decide to create a family plan? For us, we just wanted to be conscious of the values we instil in our children and decide proactively on activities / programs to reinforce these agreed values. In my husband’s simple words: “If we do not decide on the children’s values, someone else will”.
How does one create a family plan and making it work? More importantly, how can one make it such a joyful exercise – something that everyone especially our kids will remember and embody the values? Some tips that have worked for us:
1. Decide which values you want to be as a family
- Do you want your children to be an independent-thinker? Would you be proud if he/she demonstrate his/her highest integrity? How about entrepreneurial mindset? We love the traditional ones: respect, gratitude, honesty, balancing now vs future. The options are endless, as long as both you and your partner feel strongly about the values that resonate with you as a family. (Hint: What would be the values that made you feel good 20 years from now.)
2. Make it age-appropriate and fun.
- When our kids were really small (ranging from 3 – 11 years old), we just had a simple 15-minute ‘family meeting’ by the playground (yes, they cannot sit still)! Put some pictures, tell stories, and examples on how each child can model these values (for example: Honesty: “I know mommy and daddy will not be angry at me when I tell the truth, so I will tell them the truth no matter what”). These had kept us honest, too.
- This year, after 6 years of this annual ritual, we had a ‘longer’ meeting. I purposely planned a weekend getaway, spent time playing and we held our family plan over supper. We even added a little bit more reflections as part of our gratitude exercise to prime the session. Everyone had a ‘template’ of the values and they can scribble on what they think they will want to do / be to embody these values. Each child (and parent) did his /her own style of expressing the vision. What came out of that is a revelation that our children find this exercise a good family-bonding activity – that’s a bonus.
3. Follow up and schedule the activities.
- I cannot stress enough that “a plan is a plan until we do something about it.” One habit that I found has been super-helpful in executing any plan is to put them in a calendar and schedule it. Or, any trigger that can help us in getting the habit programmed, after all, we are all humans and we regress. (Read Charles Duhigg book on building habit, it helps). We put an A3 printed Family Plan in our kitchen (at the smallest kid’s eye level) so we see it everyday.
Is it a difficult thing to do? No.
Is it difficult to start? Yes.
So, let’s start, and let’s not wait for it to be perfect.
P/s: Our ritual changes every year, even though we have been doing it since 2011. For me, I took this family plan as part of my “Create Memory” project of 2018.