When I’m coaching, one of the common themes raised by parents, is a feeling they are surviving, not thriving and so a good starting point is often a conversation about re-evaluating the skills that they’ve developed in other areas of life, that are transferable within the family context.  As busy, multi-tasking, working Mothers, whether we work for an organisation or run our own business it’s easy to compartmentalise certain skills as only applicable for the workplace, but I would encourage you to consciously consider some business tools that are very effective in facilitating positive change in the workplace,  to the home and family environment, especially if you are feeling stuck with a particular problem that is crowding out your brain.  In pursuit of the ideal work/life balance, and the inevitable quest to ditch the guilt that a lot of us face in the “I wish I had more time to do that, or I wish I wasn’t having to do that”, taking a little time to sit down with a piece of paper and brainstorming to the heart of the problem, analysing what is working well and what isn’t and why, can lead to a greater efficient use of time, leaving you more time to do the things that bring you and your family fulfillment.

There are 2 tools that I would recommend to help your family become fully functional. What do I mean when I say “fully functional”? I use the words “fully functional” meaning optimal, therefore a family situation that meets everyone’s needs equally: a family, where each individual feels nourished, heard, and respected will flourish.  I read blogs everyday written by women who feel that they are run ragged by the demands of successfully building and sustaining a career whilst attempting to be the perfect wife, mother, daughter and housekeeper. Can we juggle all this and stay sane and meet everyone’s needs including our own, I doubt it, but that’s a separate blog. To prevent the “Mum guilt” and preserve our sanity, the mantra, Nourish to Flourish springs to mind. And that begins with asserting control by consciously using tools that always if applied in a well thought out way will make a difference, reducing stress and anxiety, and provide the foundations for Mental Wellness, which is a confidence that you are thriving as opposed to merely surviving. It seems like more effort in the short term but the long term gains are measurable against happiness stakes.

 

These 2 tools are quite simply ‘Making a Family Vision’ and ‘applying SMART goals’. So just like you would make a vision statement for a business, make one for your family and stick it on the fridge! Creating a family vision involves the whole family, including small children, as long as they have the verbal skills to communicate.  So what are the benefits of having a family vision?

It allows you to set what your family values are and therefore gives you a tool to be able to pick your battles according your beliefs and values. Ditch the rest. This is a powerful communication tool, so that everyone knows where the bar is set and promotes the development of personal responsibility in young children.

It gives you a ready-made Behavioural Management System that is yours, no one else’s. There are so many Parenting books out there, but unless your system is authentic and is underpinned by what you believe from an understanding of your children’s personalities and your values, it won’t work.  A family vision is a very effective tool in managing difficult behaviours from your children and allows you to implement boundaries without confrontation.  It sets the standard of behaviours that you would expect and promotes and develops your child’s personal responsibility .

  • It helps you use discipline for learning opportunities rather than punishment
  • It helps stop yelling and a build-up of stress and discord.
  • It allows you opportunities to thrive as a family, as children develop and grow and make adjustments accordingly.
  • It helps build children’s identity, self- esteem and self -belief in supporting a system of values.
  • It gives you a mechanism to discuss difficult situations, by referring into the family vision and therefore creates opportunities to help your children develop emotional resilience.
  • It gives you an easy tool to allocate family chores and create ownership for doing them.
  • It facilitates routine and helps you feel more in control.

My own experience of one of the benefits comes from the time when, as a Mother of four, I found myself confronted with the challenge of organising and delivering an extra- curricular programme for my children.  I soon came to the realisation that there was no way to meet everyone’s expectation and remain sane.  Having worked out when I was available to provide a taxi and management service, we then had a family discussion about what I could realistically do, marrying this up with what they really really wanted to do. By coming up with a general rule of thumb, which was that I could only facilitate 2 extra- curricular activities per child, each of my children had to prioritise in order what was more important to them in carrying on. The solution although facilitated by me, was actually managed by them.

 

 

What does a family vision look like?

First of all start a family brainstorming:  what is your family USP?  What I mean by that is, what are your family’s particular needs?  What are the values that you as a family hold dearly?  How would you like to treat each other and others?  What helps you stay connected?  What helps you when you are struggling with a difficult emotion?  What are the things that you like to do that make you happy?

Once you have come up with about 5 statements, you can then apply SMART goals to those statements.  For example, if you have agreed that:

“It is important that we sit down at the table and eat together” . By applying SMART goals, you can work out how this will be achieved. So it might look like this:

S State the specific goal in a simple way

M How can I measure it?  Is it a meaningful use of my time?  How will I know if it’s working and what difference would it make?

A Is it achievable? How motivated am I in achieving it?

R Is it realistic? Is it responsible? That is, what is the impact on my family and others?

T When shall I implement this by?

The subsequent brainstorm might look a little like this:

  1. Consider how you can implement this goal. What tools do I need? For example, internet shopping, meal planning and so on. Don’t forget to factor in healthy snacks, particularly for ravenous teenagers. You don’t want to come home from work and find that packet of sausages has already gone into a sandwich!
  2. Find a way of preparing and cooking healthy meals, that suits your lifestyle. My mantra was that if it takes longer than 30 mins from prep to table, it didn’t happen.
  3. What are the obstacles? For example, what will happen if extra- curricular activities get in the way of this? How many extra -curricular activities am I going to agree to? When do I want to be home by? If we can’t do it every night, how many nights will we commit to? How does it fit in with changing work shift patterns and so on.
  4. How can you ensure it’s success?

I chose this example because there is clear evidence that “the family who eats together, stays together“. It’s a time when the foundations for connection are built from an early age.

Applying the SMART goal process to family situations when you are confronted with a situation that is no longer working for you can trigger a positive change that is effected without resistance, because it is then referred back into the Family Vision.  It helps the Family Vision, work SMARTER. But above all it helps you all stay more connected.

As they say in yoga, “let go of what doesn’t serve you”.

So are you ready to work smarter, not harder in order to nourish to flourish?