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togather-family-fun-game

We want to be close to our family members.

We want our family to be deeply connected.

Yet, we struggle to find the time to be together.

We say we want a close, connected family yet we race around feeding our kids on the run, or we’re too exhausted to gather our people around the table for meals together.

What if I told you one thing that experts say strengthens kids and families the most, is gathering around the table for family dinner? Would that entice you to try and do it more this year?

The one thing our kids need from us, whether they are toddlers or teens, is purposeful time gathered around the family table talking regularly.

I wrote in my book Parent on Purpose, that research links regular family dinners to better academic performance, higher self-esteem and a greater sense of resilience as well as lower rates of substance abuse, teen pregnancy and depression. Read more

Family-Christmas-Blessing-Jar-Tradition

As parents, we should continuously seek out ways to live out the values that we deem most important. Several years ago I read a blog post about the Christmas Jars and knew this tradition would be a perfect way to teach our children about the power of generosity and giving more than you receive. 
Family-Christmas-Blessing-Jar-Tradition

What is a Christmas Jar?

The Christmas Jar tradition, based on Jason Wright’s bestselling novel is simply a glass jar that you use to collect spare change throughout the year. Our family adds coins that we find on the ground, in the washer and dryer as well as unclaimed money lying around the house. We also add bills that come to us unexpectedly.

The week before Christmas, prayerfully and thoughtfully decide with your family members who you want to gift it to… anonymously.

Was a neighbor laid off? Is a co-worker struggling with health problems? Has a friend lost a loved one?

Click HERE for  3 other simple, yet powerful, Glass Jar Family Traditions

Simply place your Christmas Jar at your recipient’s doorstep, in their car, on their desk — wherever — and know that you have blessed their life with your generosity.

No matter the amount, big or small, you’ll be surprised how much money you can generate in that jar and how much you can impact someone’s life just by your family being intentional all year long.

It was so much fun to meet the author of the Christmas Jars book, Jason Wright. I even hauled our family Christmas Jar to the bookstore to show him how his story and tradition has impacted our family!

You can find all of these fun Christmas Jars products on my Amazon Influencer store HERE. (This is my affiliate link which means I may make a few cents off of your purchase!)

 

Family-Meeting-Agendas

Growing up, I hung out at my best friend Mary’s house a lot, and, every once in awhile, Mary’s mom would tell me it was time for their family conference and that I was going to need to leave. As my two feet carried me home, I thought about how their family ritual seemed ludicrous. My parents didn’t do this sort of thing in our home, so why in the world would my friend’s family need to have meetings when we didn’t?

As I aged, I began to appreciate the fact that Mary’s family set aside sacred time for them and them alone. Her Mom wasn’t worried about catering to me or anyone else that she had to send home. They had an intentional system to connect, and I carried that idea forward into my family today.

Monthly-Family-Meeting-Agenda

WHY SHOULD PARENTS CREATE A HABIT OF HOLDING FAMILY MEETINGS?

Because families today are going in all directions. Holding mindful family meetings is a way to slow down and purposely connect with your family members regularly. These meetings are a relaxed way for everyone to gather and communicate together.

Family meetings are a time to get honest about the strengths and weaknesses of your family and to talk about how things are going within your family unit and individually. Family meetings are meant to be fun and promote a sense of belonging.

HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU HOLD FAMILY MEETINGS?

Weekly? Monthly? Quarterly?

Decide what works for your family according to your current schedule. If you have younger kids, it will be easier to meet up around the family table for weekly meetings. As kids get older, this becomes more difficult, although just as important. 

Adriane Thompson of Raising Kids With Purpose says she and her husband, along with their three sons ages 9, 6 and 1, meet on Sunday evenings and “the meetings are usually a mix of screaming, running around, dancing, and cheering with a dash of order.” She says that even with the chaos, something amazing happens:

  • Our kids have input on decisions that impact them.
  • Problems or challenges get addressed in a judgment-free zone.
  • Our family values are highlighted and reiterated.
  • We find out if something is going on with someone that didn’t come up during the week.
  • Everyone feels like they are part of something bigger than themselves and that they have others cheering them on.
  • Chores and family contributions are assigned.

HOW LONG SHOULD YOUR FAMILY MEETING LAST?

Adriane says they keep their weekly family meeting to 15 minutes. “When we first started having meetings, we would all say something nice about each person in our family. Then once all the compliments were finished, that person would get to dance around the house hearing us chant their name. My toddler loved this part. But what ended up happening was the meeting got dragged out making it too long to keep attention,” she said.

WHERE SHOULD YOU HOLD YOUR FAMILY MEETINGS?

I want our “formal” dining room table to be a place where we regularly gather for connective tech-free time together, so this is where we hold our meetings.

The Thompsons’ prefer to switch up where they meet, and Adriane says, “You may even want to consider changing it up once a month and doing it at a park, a froyo place, Chick-Fil-A or somewhere where the kids can have fun afterward.”

FIGURE OUT YOUR PURPOSE 

Claim what it is you want to accomplish through holding your family meetings.

“The goal of a Family Meeting should be to open communication between everyone in the family. Allowing our kids to have a voice gives them autonomy, but also in this type of environment they can get a lot of guidance and know who is ultimately in charge,” says Adriane.

SET THE MOOD

Purposely set the mood and tone of the room to match how you want your family meeting to feel. Do you want it to be fun and upbeat, or do you want it to be serene and serious? Our family meetings always include a dessert, and I light candles so that the space feels calm and inviting.

Adriane agrees to include a special treat for the kids to enjoy during the meeting. “This can be anything from popcorn, special smoothies, muffins to frozen yogurt. Our kids aren’t used to getting a lot of sweet treats, so a family meeting is a perfect time to let them indulge a little,” she says.

END THE MEETING WITH A FUN RITUAL OR FAMILY EVENT

When you have younger kids, you can add an element of fun to the very end of the meeting, such as a dance party or something silly.

For those with older kids, Audrey Monke, Mother of 5 and Writer at Sunshine Parenting says, “Playing a board game or watching your favorite TV show together could be a reward for having the meeting.”



Family-Meeting-Agendas

PLAN YOUR AGENDA

Both Adriane and I, have Family Meeting Agendas that we print out and use for our family meetings, while Audrey says, “You don’t have to get fancy with your agenda. We keep ours on a legal pad, and we take turns being the “chair” of the meeting. Leading the session is good communication practice for kids.”

DOWNLOAD ADRIANE’S WEEKLY FAMILY AGENDA HERE

HERE’S WHAT TO INCLUDE ON YOUR AGENDA

  • What’s working well in your family, and what’s not working so well?
  • What changes do we need to make and what do we want to keep the same?
  • Talk about a value or life skill you want to strengthen.
  • Discuss how well you are serving and loving other people.
  • Coordinate the Family Calendar.
  • Discuss any needs for school or work projects, so you get out of the habit of running out last minute for that poster board!
  • Do you want to payout allowance or any other rewards?

Raising Kids With Purpose Family Meeting Agenda-10

HOW TO KICK OFF THE MEETING 

Start By Saying Something Nice

We used to start our family meetings by turning to the person next to us and saying something we loved about them. Complimenting one another no longer flies with the teenagers, but that practice certainly made for some sweet memories and strengthened our bonds.

Use Conversation Starters

Our family loves using Conversation Starter products around the table. Our favorites are Togather or Food With Thought These questions always seem to lighten the mood of the meeting, and we gain better insight into who one another are. 

Say Highs and Lows

You can also begin with Highs and Lows, where everyone thinks of something positive and something not so positive that recently happened to them.

OTHER GREAT IDEAS TO INCLUDE

Word of the Week

Adriane says her family picks a word from a “words to make you sound smarter” list or “words to study for the SAT,” and they discuss the meaning as well as try to use it throughout the week. I love this idea!

Meal Planning 

Take the time during meetings to plan your weekly dinner menu or to plan for school lunches. Get the whole family involved in what they want to eat for the week and decide who is going to help shop and make the meals too!

No matter if we are raising toddlers or teenagers, we must take the time and make an effort to connect with them regularly. Family meetings tell our kids that they matter. That our family matters. That our thoughts and actions matter.

Setting aside this sacred time for your family, whether it be weekly, monthly or quarterly, is a perfect way to let your kids know you care about them and the overall health of your entire family.

What do you think is important to include in family meetings?



Family-Christmas-Blessing-Jar-Tradition

See a penny pick it up, and all the day you’ll have good luck.

Or perhaps the copper coin can instead bless another as you drop it into your family Blessing Jar.

For years, I wanted to start a Christmas Jar in our family. I loved the idea, wanted to do the tradition, but I constantly forgot to start it…. until last year. And now this particular tradition is one of our family favorites.

We renamed it our family Blessing Jar and use it a little differently than is expressed in the Christmas Jar book, but the overall purpose is the same- to take the time to think of giving to others throughout the entire year.

Family-Christmas-Blessing-Jar-Tradition

How to Start your Blessing Jar Tradition

While raising my five children, I seek out ways to naturally teach my sons and daughter how to think of others before themselves and regularly be a blessing to other people in simple and significant ways. The Blessing Jar is a perfect way to authentically teach the values I want my kids to have as well as build an overall giving family culture.

What You Need to Begin Your Blessing Jar Tradition

Grab a random empty glass jar and set it in a prominent area of your home where your family members frequently reside. Designate the jar as your 2019 family Blessing Jar and begin dropping coins and bills into the glass jar all year long.

Fill the jar with unexpected money you find or receive throughout the entire year.

We fill our Blessing Jar with coins that we find laying on the ground in parking lots; bills that were accidentally left in pockets and appear in the dryer; unclaimed piles of coins left around the house and money received for helping people who wouldn’t accept our help for free.

This year’s jar reminded me of precious moments like the time when we were vacationing in California, and two of our sons pushed a dead golf cart up a steep hill to get it home for a group of stranded girls. The boys tried to refuse the cash the girls insisted they take for helping them. So, they gave it to me and asked me to put it in our Blessing Jar.

Without this intentional tradition in place, I guarantee that money would’ve just gone right into their pockets because there would’ve been nowhere else for it to go. We must intentionally give our children opportunities to bless others before themselves and the Blessing Jar does precisely that.

Family-tradition-Christmas-Blessing-Jar

At the beginning of the year, my husband came home from the gym and dropped this crumpled one dollar bill into our jar. He said no one was around to claim it, so he picked it up to add to our Blessing Jar. If we didn’t have this tradition, I guarantee he wouldn’t have cared even to grab that money. I most certainly would’ve never heard about it even if he had.

Make One Purposeful Choice

Each year, I purposely don’t purchase or do something I would usually do in December and instead gift that money to the jar instead. For instance, this year is the first time I didn’t send out a photo Christmas card of our family and instead put that money I would’ve spent in our Blessing Jar.

The Blessing Jar is a simple family tradition that gives us an avenue to authentically talk with our children about our spending choices and our giving. It’s so much fun to watch the jar organically fill up throughout the year and even more meaningful to gather together as a family the week before Christmas and decide who we want to receive our Blessing Jar.

4 Ways to Create Meaning in A Glass Jar!

A Blessing Jar is an intentional way for your family to have a small, collective purpose throughout the entire year.

It’s simple traditions like this that teach our children the values we want them to leave our home with one day. If you’re looking to begin a meaningful family tradition that will last all year long, consider starting a Blessing Jar of your own come January 1!

I wouldn’t say last week was one of my better ones. My throat is scratchy from all the nagging and raising my voice (otherwise known as yelling) in frustration to my family. Every last one of them has been driving me nuts. Maybe you can relate? We are on each other more than normal and I’m going to own that it’s my negative energy leading the charge. It’s no way I want to live.

So, I called a Family Meeting.

It’s time to regroup as a family unit because when Momma isn’t happy, ain’t nobody going to be happy. A Family Meeting is a great way to stop and talk about the good, the bad and the ugly and comes up with a plan to get back on track.

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