#Back2School in #31Days: Day 8 – What’s a family culture?

A Mother's Day Confession My Family

I hear a lot of talk about building community. We like to make plans for building intentional relationships with people to help, support, and join together. It’s important for us because after all we are human, and we were created to connect.

It’s important to have a culture of connected people – living openly, giving freely, and loving unconditionally.

But a “family culture?” I had to admit to myself the first time I heard that term, I really had not ever thought about anything like that before.

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I wondered to myself: 

How would I define my family in one word – what would that one word be?

Or how about this question: what is one family activity I wouldn’t want to live without? 

What makes our family rhythm unique? What traditions do I want my kids to remember when they are grown?

And why are these questions apart of the #Back2School in #31Days series? 

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Well, as we get ready for fall activities, school, commitments to our communities, and all the other non-summer busyness – there needs to be one thing that stands as a focal point that defines what it means to be a part of our family.

Or I will find myself exasperated by November trying to do everything and not doing anything very well.

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I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts by Sarah McKenzie of the Read-Aloud Revival, and in the intro to her podcast, she says something like:

This will encourage you to build your family culture around books.

I was listening to the one from New Year’s Eve and she was talking all about starting a “reading streak.” Where as a family, they commit to reading aloud everyday for as many days as they can. 100 Days, a year, or maybe more!

This is a great goal and activity that will naturally encourage family bonds, conversations, and memories – all brought about through reading aloud together.

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It was also where I first tuned in to her words “build your family culture around books.”

I think it’s worth recommending that we take time to consider what our family culture is. What is it on its own, and what we want it to become (and the steps it will take to get there – like a reading streak.)

Here are my 2 things to consider when building a family culture:

  • List the things you do as a family on a regular monthly basis that are non-negotiable. Like, eating dinner together every night. Talking a family walk every week. Listening to music while baking. Reading either alone or together. Taking a Sunday drive. Playing games together. Or maybe it’s something completely different. Whatever it is, it is yours – it’s one of the best things that makes your family unique.
  • Write your Parenting Purpose Statement (get your free downloadable guide here) and examine who you are and how that distills what is the best focus for your goals and activities.

There are so many good things to be focused on as an individual and as a family, but to truly live a fulfilling life I feel it is important to know how you are each wired. Dr. Kathy Koch has written a great book on the 8 Intelligences which is so practical and helpful in recognizing what makes us tick. I recommend taking time to observe yourself and your children and write out how each member is smart.

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The next part to creating a family culture is a little tricky: try to pick out one thing that unifies all your smarts and makes your family unique.

I believe that by narrowing down what we are about to one major thing it becomes easier to cross things off our list of options and save space on the list for what’s most important to us.

By looking at each month on the calendar as an opportunity to build our family bonds and enrich the soil of our souls, we all live with more intention, peace, and purpose.

So, today’s challenge is to define what my family is all about.

In our family we: eat dinner every night together and share about our day, play music together, discover new places together, read before bed together, and learn new things together.

My family culture revolves heavily upon an evening routine. Noticing this I can begin to plan ahead by looking at the next 6 months and seeing how to prioritize keeping our first things, first.

On Developing Better Follow Through

I want our family culture to be so rich and meaningful that it impacts those around us. I don’t want the culture of the world in which we live to be so strong that it comes into our home and changes us.

A family culture is worth creating and protecting. It takes planning and prioritizing. It’s one of the biggest blessings of being a family.

Further reading (& listening):

This is Day 8 in the #31Days to #Back2School series; check out Day 1 and the Index by clicking here.

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From 900 square feet to 2 bedrooms {How To Simplify}

How to Simplify

Sometimes, less is less.

And when it is, hearing the slogan “Less is More” triggers my gag reflex.

I googled “simplify” and the results were math links. Fractions. Numbers. Calculations.

I searched “simplify” on Pinterest and the results were hundreds of quotes. Talk. Advice. Philosophy. (You can see my search here.)

So what do you do when life and space need to make logical and emotional sense? You combine the two forces.

You simplify.

I’m proof that it can be done. We sold our 900 square feet, two-bedroom home back in the summer. As a temporary solution to our homelessness, we moved into my parents’ home.

Let’s stop and do the math (because to simplify there are facts and decisions to make). 5 people going from 900 to roughly 240 square feet. With 2 major goals: #1 don’t cause my parents to hate us and #2 still love one another. And I think how we’re living still makes sense.

So here’s my 10 Tips for How-To Simplify (and stay that way):

  1. Remember it’s the “who’s” that matter most, not the “what’s.”
  2. Know what really matters to them. What makes the people in your family feel alive? What do they get up talking about? Keep those things. If you aren’t sure what these things are, then please don’t start this process. Take the time to invest in this step.
  3. Read 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess and Packing Light: Thoughts on Living Life with Less Baggage – Why these and not other “How To Simplify” books? Because at the heart of simplifying is sacrifice. A step-by-step guide, while helpful in most seasons, can feel too demanding if you’re in the middle of a major life change. Whereas the books above are stories of sacrifice and the simplicity that comes from real honest work.
  4. Think in the here and now. Don’t try to problem solve “what-if” situations. Pack, declutter, get rid of what you don’t need now. Second guessing is sabotage.
  5. Ask for help. I found my help in the form of books, but if you’re really wrestling to make a decision then ask someone you trust to do it with you.
  6. Prioritize. I needed to be able to homeschool my children in our temporary space, which meant that it was an automatic “no” to other things that would compete for homeschooling supplies.
  7. Work hard and build up momentum. If you want to get a lot done, then you have to work hard and fast. The time to sit and think was on step #2, now is the time to just keep going. When you see the progress, it will be worth all the effort.
  8. Make it a regular routine to review these steps. Peace and order require maintenance. Schedule simplifying into your Google Calendar – mine is set for 8:30am every Saturday morning.
  9. Stop and rest. Take regular breaks and learn to breathe deeply. Feed yourself well.
  10. Finally, don’t go to Target. Please learn from my mistakes. I finally realized that when I’m going through a major season of sacrifice and change – I cannot handle going to Target (or any store that carries more than just food). I always end up spending more than I had budgeted, and it wasn’t healthy.

With kids underfoot, it can feel like a move or temporary living situation is going to ruin them. My 7 year old has moved 7 times. So believe me when I say that I have felt like life has been too complicated or too much work. But that doesn’t have to be the case. Since becoming my kids’ safe place there have been less chaos and more calm. My kids know their needs will be met, and we enjoy everyday life.

Less is less. And that’s okay with me. Less stuff means less clean up, less clutter, less baggage.

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