What Defines Your Family

Focus on the Goal
Have you ever complained bitterly to your friends about being swamped and a few minutes later added something else to your schedule? A few weeks ago, my Saturdays consisted of two early morning soccer games, a piano lesson, and 2 birthday parties. Likewise, Sunday was church, brunch, a birthday party, and a visit to Disney. In addition, I still had to find time to cook, clean the house and get the boys ready for school. On a given Tuesday, we had soccer practice, a cub scout meeting, and a new parent event at my son's school. Even superwoman would be tired.
That is when I started thinking about the goals that I had for my family and whether I was scheduling my time to fulfill those goals.  In theory, I wanted to be a Cub Scout family because I have fond memories of weekend camping trips when I was growing up. The reality is that I prefer to be indoors in a warm bed, things that go bump in the night scares me and the kids, the door to door sales that is necessary to earn the badges is not fun and when someone suggested a "turkey shoot" on the camping trip, I was a little horrified. I had to admit that our family is just not ready for the Cub Scouts and remove it and several other activities from our current schedule.

What defines your family? Are you the football family, the family where friends and strangers congregate,    the family where life revolves around church, the family that lives to travel? How would your friends define your family?  A definition or a slogan is helpful because few families that can do it all; most of us have to focus our efforts around a few important goals.
  1. Determine what type of family you want to be.
  2. Focus on what you really value.
  3. Make everything else optional and opt out often. Just say NO, with a smile. Resist the urge to offer excuses or long explanations. Are you doing it with love in your heart? If no, then don't do it
  4. Add the people, activities and events that are truly important to you to your monthly schedule and don't forget to schedule in FUN! 
  5. "Flip Flopping" is ok. Reassess your goals each year.
Once you realize that the things that define you as a family are getting done, life becomes so much easier and less stressful. It is challenging to come up with a good slogan but I was able to narrow down the things that we value. We value church, the arts, sports, education and family time and try to focus on events that falls into those categories.  It is an easygoing, no pressure system. We aim for church at least three Sundays per month with the flexibility to sleep in late or take the kids to Disney on any given Sunday when we need a change in our routine. Although, my Sun child would like to take guitar lessons, right now we are a piano family - there is no running around to different lessons. We passed on basketball this winter because we spent the fall consumed with soccer and getting up early for 8am games. Taking a season off just felt healthy for the family. We play enough soccer and basketball in the backyard to keep the boys from getting rusty and in the spring, we will all be both mentally and physically ready for a spring sport.  When the boys grow up and reflect on family life they will likely remember our movie nights. We have a movie night the first Friday of each month where we invite a few friends and an informal movie night almost every Friday evening where we usually order in and just relax with games and family-friendly movies. All of this is a work in progress for me and I am writing it down so that I can hold my own feet to the fire and just focus on the things that are important to the family.

Defining what is important and knowing that everything else is optional creates a sense of freedom. Squeezing in three kids birthday parties in one Saturday is just madness. If you can do it without stress or complaint, go for it; if not, just say no to two or all three, if necessary. The things that define you as a family are the things that the kids will treasure now and will remember when they are grown and raising their own kids.

The best slogan that I could come up with is "Fueled by Faith, Driven by a Love of the Arts, Sports and Education".  Do you have a catchy slogan for your family? How do you focus on what is important?