Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Family Culture--Monthly Family Goals

Holy Moly--where have I been? Life is flying by, and I have not taken the time to sit at the computer and write about it. Not much time now, either, but I am forcing my world to stop for a few moments to record something that matters more than laundry or dishes or even preschool calendars.

One really important concept I learned from a Power of Moms retreat I went to in Park City a couple of years ago was the idea of developing a family culture within our very own little families. I had always known family traditions were important, but this takes things much further than that. It's the idea that children need as many rituals and routines as possible to bind them to us and create family togetherness that will really last. It's more than just holiday traditions, although those are certainly an important part of family culture. It's weekly routines, monthly observances, birthday traditions, and so on that create a bond in families and also a sense of security and love that will last forever.

When I first began digesting this concept, I realized it was something our family could definitely improve on, and I was excited about it. I started brainstorming ideas that would be practical (after all, traditions are repeated, so you want to be careful about what you start) and meaningful and fun. I must say from the start, I am not the party type of mom by any means, so I had to keep reminding myself to stay true to my strengths and my priorities and yet also try to go out on a limb just a little. In the end, it didn't take any sort of monumental effort, and the results have definitely been worth it. We started a few things that have really made a difference in our home, things my children have especially enjoyed.

One thing I brainstormed is to have a monthly family goal (I admit, this was mostly due to the fact I felt we needed to work on some behavior in our home, and I was trying to figure out a positive way to do it). I started by buying a chalkboard. I simply write a goal on the chalkboard and then we all work very hard on improving ourselves in that particular area of emphasis (ha! ha!). At the end of the month, the person who has worked the hardest on the goal and made the most progress gets to choose what family activity we put on the calendar the next month. Oh, I forgot to mention, at the beginning of the year we brainstormed ideas of activities we would like to do together and listed them out. We cross them off one by one as they are chosen by the winner each month.

I can't remember what January's goal was, but Boston won and chose to go swimming at the Surf n' Swim. As fate would have it, our ward had it's annual Surf n' Swim night that month on the very night we were planning to go, so the whole ward joined us for our family event! Ha! Here are a few blurry pictures taken from my phone.

You've gotta love it when snacks are provided for your activity!:)

It might be time to get Berkley a new swimming suit. Last year's model doesn't quite cover her tummy.

This was February's goal.

Hallee won and chose to go out to eat at Pepperbelly's. This is a definite rarity for our family, let me tell you. We NEVER eat out at restaurants (unless you consider drive-thru Wendy's a restaurant experience). I wasn't sure my children would even know how to behave. It was so much fun, though! And the food was amazing! Just take a look at that tostada a few pictures down. Yum!! Good thing we shared that humongous thing!

The goal for March was . . .

We have a definite problem with this in our household. Honestly, we could have this goal every month. Regyn won and chose to go bowling. Again, not something we usually do. I think that's what makes this work so well--we do things out of the ordinary so they seem extra special. Unfortunately, I had been feeling sick for days (and still am, darn it) and hardly had the energy to get myself into the car and go to the bowling alley. Therefore, I only watched the bowling--and took pictures of course, which was the most fun I'd had in a while.

They look pretty serious about this bowling thing, don't they?:)

We kept having to tell Berkley she couldn't bowl. She just didn't understand why.

Dan was a pretty good bowler and took his turns seriously. He tried to tell the kids the proper way to bowl, but to no avail. I saw the strangest bowling techniques ever! They were not interested in doing it right--they just wanted to have fun.

 Nate threw the ball down really hard and with a side spin. It was like nothing I'd ever seen before.

Nate must have actually knocked down a few pins!:)

Regyn was a little cutie. Her left-handed bowling wasn't too bad. I think she took second place, behind Dad.

Berkley only wished she could join the fun. She finally took off and started playing on the other "stuff" at Boondocks. When we finally left, she was kicking and screaming that she didn't want to go. That was the un-fun part of the evening.

Boston was adorable. He took bowling very seriously (kind of like his Dad). It took his ball forever to reach the pins, but he did great!

Hallee was definitely the worst bowler!! Ha! Love the girl, but bowling is definitely not her game.

Nate finally gave up on regular bowling and did it "granny style" on his last ball of the night. I was laughing so hard. It was pretty effective, too, I might add.

His antics were hilarious the whole night. I just kept thinking, what a kid. Man, I love that kid! In fact, I kept thinking how glad I was I hadn't stayed home and gone to bed like I had wanted to, even though I was tired and miserably sick. It was so wonderful just basking in the fun of seeing my family enjoying each other for the evening.

 Here was the final score at the end. Those are positively the worst bowling scores I've ever seen! But, we sure had fun!!

And the goal for April is . . .

I don't know yet who will win or what activity they will choose, but I'm looking forward to it, no matter what it is. I firmly believe these are the moments that will be carved in my children's memories forever; at least, I hope they are. I hope they remember we did things like this as a family more than they remember me hollering at them for not putting their shoes away. Mostly, I hope they remember how good it felt to be together, just soaking each other up. That's the best part of developing a strong family culture--the feelings of love and unity and happiness and security. It's pretty hard to find any of those things out in the world any more, but here at home. . . well, I hope they will always be found here.