How to start the family working together?

How to start the family working together

Getting the family working together can seem like an uphill task.

As part of the back to school series, we are looking at ways to have a happier school year for everyone. Around the middle of the last school year you were doing a lot, maybe even too much. The children are growing and so should their responsibility within the family. I know it is easier if you do it yourself but we’re raising children to become adults so much of what we do is training, trying new things and encouragement. Today it is time for the family.  Looking at these areas and ask what are they like in my family right now?


Many things happen by chance but we need to decide how we want our family to be and often work backwards to get to the goal. Are we an intentional family? What are we intentional about?

Areas to consider

meal times, bedtimes, homework before play, play before homework, contributions, reading, media, sports, nature ________ ?


Often our disposable income encourages us to spend more than we give and our children misunderstand the value of spending time and giving of themselves. It’s something we have to actively teach through our actions.

Areas to consider

unnecessary gifts ( supermarket, errand to the shops, pressured at the till), lack of age appropriate regular contributions, serving in age appropriate ways, giving of ourselves with no expectations of receiving.


Good habits formed at youth make all the difference- Aristole

It’s the habits we teach our children that they lean on and keep. What habits are we teaching them about family working together?

  1. Start by making sure you and your partner are on the same page with what you mean by the family working together and what it is that you will be working together as a family on. Do you want everyone to learn to sort, wash, dry and put away their laundry? or cook a meal once a week? Be ready in the morning independently?  Not take each other’s things without asking? Walk the dog? Whatever the thing or things be united on one thing.
  2. Set an age appropriate goal and time limit. These are for us as parents to reevaluate and alter as needed. With young children the season is different to a mixed household where children span elementary, middle and a babe in arms.

There are many ways that this next stage happens and it really depends upon your family. One way that works is to call a meeting and share your vision. There’s often a lot of push back because we mostly don’t like change that means we have to do something.  The good thing is that the parents are united.

We become the sum of what we do all the time

Getting started…

Another approach is to take on each child at a time. During a connecting activity where you are together one on one where you’re usually sharing like going for a walk, washing dishes, folding laundry or sweeping the yard, start talking about how you learnt something from a family member. Talk about how families work together and how we’re going to do this more.

Set aside time to teach each part of the working together and expect there to be hiccups. Have grace and laughter come quickly to your lips than anything else as we boldly try to work together for the good of the family.

A great exercise for how the house runs is to list all the things that have to happen including the contributions.  Get the children to list all the things that they have to do. Ask them what they would like to learn how to do.

Take time to explain how and why you keep a diary and to do list and why the children should understand and start using one too. Comment about when things don’t run smoothly what happened. Give the children a chance to notice and adapt.

As parents we are driving this family. To avoid burnout and getting caught up in the now we have to set our own trail.

Entitlement depletes families. Habits are powerful. Intention moves families.


What type of family do you want to be?

Back to School: Family Values for the Month


Starting with family values as you start the school year. Let's get talking!

Family values help glue our families together. Yet we don’t often talk about it openly within our family or to our children. Our children learn our values from seeing what we do and watching others. It’s not until we see something happen right before our eyes that we realize that maybe we haven’t shared this value very well. A lot of what happens within family we just hope the children will just pick it up, get it and do it. The conversation though is what counts.

This school year we’re taking a closer look at character and values. We’re taking a whole month where we focus on a value we really want to see.

  1. the value goes on the electronic calendar so everyday I’m reminded of the value and how I can try and show it.
  2. the value will show up in our family roundtable discussion
  3. the value will show up as a dinner time conversation through a Character Conversation Card.

Character Conversation Cards- a sample

Download your Character Conversation Card

How often?

Not everyday or all the time. But there is lots of opportunity to bring values into the open with video, news reports and recalled stories from the day.

One of our core family values is time and simplicity. There’s always time to stop and have a chat. Over a cup of tea and an English biscuit of course. Spending time together is important. It doesn’t mean it happens all the time. But we make time to find time because it is during this time with each other that we listen, laugh and learn.

We learn to be kinder, have more empathy, vent and disagree appropriately ( well we’re on our way- still not there yet!) Keeping family life simple and holding that space allows you to decompress during the week without a full timetable of activities. There will always be weeks where activities ramp up, we adjust but we become a lot more deliberate about holding us back to what we want to be.

Wonderfully we all have such different families.

We are swept along. We are influenced. We stumble.

We choose our direction.

Next steps…

Take a moment now to think of a value for the coming month.

Don’t make this hard.

Choose one from the printable that best fits your family. Sometime in that month talk about that value and in twelve months time you’ll have shared your values intentionally a minimum of twelve times spoken about things you wanted. It feels good to be ahead instead of catching up.

Talking about values helps us get ahead. Imagine how friendship groups with our children would be if you knew the families of your friends talked about friendship, being a friend, generosity, firmness, speaking up, speaking out, tolerance?

Celebrating Family Values. Which one is your focus this month?

Download this printable


Back to School Series

  1. Back to School: Figuring out the Family Media Plan

Back to School: Figuring out the Family Media Plan

How will we all use our media devices as a family? Figuring out our family media plan   + Printable questions to get started

How we use media, screens and devices creeps up on many of us.

Devices multiply and soon there are a bunch of portable devices to manage.

Before going back to school I love to go back over what worked and what didn’t work so well the previous school year. Doesn’t have to be long or written but there are usually some lessons I don’t want to repeat and a few I do want to encourage. I’m sure you feel the same way.

TV and Computer Games

We’ve had the plan as a family to have a streaming service and not a regular cable company. The boys have a profile and the parents have their profile.  Generally as a rule the TV isn’t on by default. It’s been an intentional decision from the beginning.  It’s rare to have the TV on during the week, after school unless there is a purpose. It does happen but it is rare.

Computer games are shared usually strategic games and a few mindless ones and always in an area where we can see with a timer like this one. If we don’t have a timer we totally lose track of time. Gaming usually happens on a Sunday.

Portable devices

So far no cell phones for the kids. It’s coming but so far there’s no need or pressure. I need to enforce better office hours for checking things online. It’s hard for the boys to see the difference between me checking Pinterest for the dinner recipe or Evernote for booklist recommendation to whether I’m goofing off on Twitter or watching a video on Facebook. I need to get better with that.

iPods are popular in our home. As a big listener of podcasts for me and the boys of audiobooks I’d love to encourage more audio stories. We are mid way through Mattimeo and loving it. It’s remembering that these portable devices aren’t for solo use. Ditto the iPad. We’ve just started to explore the apps area and find more than just games.

School use

We were totally new to school websites carrying so much information for the children last year. So this year the boys are encouraged to check the website for homework, games, textbooks and notes.

With their own profiles on the computer the boys are learning to login, find and do without distraction. Did I mention that having a timer helps?

Watch and Eat

Something unusual that we love to do as a family maybe once a week is to watch something and eat altogether. It flies in the face of everything yet we’re happy to show the flexibility and temperance we have for media.

So far we loving: How the States Got their shapes, Presidents ( We are trying to understand and learn this new place where we live) Cosmos, Planet Earth because we love stuff like that or the latest movie if it is family night. The conversations we have during and after keep this gathering as a vital part of what we do as a family.

These are some of our guidelines for the year. Like with all things we will modify them as we go along. We aim for these ideals and so far they’ve helped us stay productive and ensuring we all get a good night’s sleep.

Try these questions to get you started

Family media plan

Free Printable

What ideas do you have for your family media plan this school year?

Peaceful Solutions to Minimize Family Strife – when you know how

Peaceful solutions to minimize family strife

When there’s a place for everything and everyone knows that place it is easier for anyone in the family to have a good idea to find it. It means that we’re not waiting on one person to find the socks or only one person knows where things are. It’s a burden lifted. It’s actually a joy to hear the boys going to each other first to try and solve the problem. We’re working together as family.

It helps that their contributions are rotated. One of them is likely to have done it before so knows the supplies, the general idea of what to do and is good to help and support.

This type of responsibility is very needed in our households as we learn to share how to do things, then how to do things well and finally how to do things consistently well. It’s the essence of a peaceful family home to ability to work together, when we see the need and before we see the need.

In every family there are regular things that need replacing. For example, like toilet rolls, empty ketchup bottles, socks with holes in, things that need refilling and things that are finished.

Some kids use lots of toilet paper so need help with that. Others are quick to get a new roll even when there’s lots of paper left on the end of a roll. Some just don’t know how to take off the old roll and replace it.  If you find yourself constantly changing the empty toilet roll then #1 in this series might just be the solution.

Child friendly and within reach

Cleaning supplies are altogether in one place in the utility room and each bathroom has a set of cleaning products. The cleaning supplies belong to the bathroom and not to the person. It’s not my cupboard, for example where I keep all MY supplies. It’s the cupboard under the sink where the supplies are kept. #3 where does it live.

4 When it’s gone- follow through

But what happens when the cleaning solution is finished? There has to be a system for telling so it’s replaced. This is an area we fall down on. I have one son who is really good at letting me know that the ketchup bottle or the maple syrup is almost up but I can see those. It helps if your contribution is a refilling task as you can quickly see that your refills are almost empty or gone.

We’re trying to instill the idea that if you’re using something and it’s almost running out or empty- tell someone! Now we can get a refill or put it on the list for next time.

Some of the cleaning items are homemade in our family, like the foaming soap, window cleaner and floor wash. This has helped from when the boys were young that I’m happy for them to be squirt happy cleaning the family table and the bathroom mirrors without worrying about the strong fumes and product getting on them.

I have all the bottles in one place. Instead of just refilling out of sight, I try to ask one of the boys to help me make up the solution when the bottle is getting low.

We get all the ingredients and fill up the foaming soap. So they know where it comes from. It doesn’t magically appear. There’s time to ask questions and talk about each part. A little science experimenting often happens too.

We mix up the recipe below. The best way we’ve found is to add the water first just below the line on the bottle, then add all the extras. But that’s not fun! So we usually add the ingredients first and slowly add the water to the line, trying to see if we can do it without getting foam everywhere… Ah a bit of science fun and mess. Just what the boys love! Besides soapy fun is an easy clean up over a sink!  :)

foaming soap recipe

Foaming soap recipe

Squirt of Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap about 2 tablespoons ( adjust as needed for your water soft/hardness)

1 Tbsp of avocado oil ( for softness)

5 -10 drops of tea tree oil

4-5 drops of orange or grapefruit essential oil

1-2 drops of spearmint oil


Fill the empty soap dispenser with half the water.

Add your fillings; the soap, oil and essential oil(s).

Fill up the rest of the dispenser with water to the line.

Secure the lid over the sink so it’s firmly in place.

Tip the bottle gently up and down. You will see the ingredients, especially the avocado oil separate. Don’t worry. Tip up and down before use.

There are so many things we can just get on and do quickly as parents in our home. We rob the children of learning to care for their home when we do it all and it’s just always there done. There’s an opportunity missed to work with them to refill and make up a solution that we all use. Time spent together doing something fun practical and useful that contributes not just to them but to the whole family. Eventually they’ll start refilling themselves.

 Series recap

  1. Peaceful solutions to minimize family strife

  2. Peaceful Solutions to Minimize Family Strife with Specific Solutions

  3. Peaceful Solutions to Minimize Family Strife with the right place

  4. Peaceful Solutions to Minimize Family Strife – when you know how


For other ways to work on your family atmosphere and family flow subscribe to my podcast; Raising Playful Tots on iTunes or Stitcher.



Peaceful Solutions to Minimize Family Strife with the right place

Peaceful solutions to minimize family strife

In  part 1 Peaceful solutions to minimize family strife there are some ideas for getting things done the by teaching and reteaching, often.

Many times we apply blanket solutions to problems but maybe this time we need to look in more detail at this child and this place:Peaceful Solutions to Minimize Family Strife with Specific Solutions was part 2.

We can find things if we know where they live. Everything has a home.

3 Where does it live?

There are no magic clean up fairies that live in our house permanently. One or two fly in every now and again, muttering quietly to themselves as they return books, toys, pens, LEGO, paper back to the right place.

We’d gotten lazy with reminding the boys to clean up and clear up so here we had a rod for our own back. Everyone needs to know where everything goes back and…..where to find the replacements!  The replacements that magically appear don’t train the children to replace things themselves.

We can find things if we know where they live. Everything has a home

One way I like to share to make this relevant is when family, friends or guests come to stay. When the children can refill the liquid soap, find the extra toothbrushes, stock up on the toilet roll, know where the replacement batteries are for the clock radio. They are joining in with getting the home ready for the new guest.

Have a game with your children and collect a few things like toilet roll, kitchen roll, extra tube/can of something you always have a spare of., cereal box, pens, backpack etc things that are kid related and well used. Ask the question, ” Where does XXX live?” This one question really helps because those that don’t know will do and when they live it out you can ask the question as a reminder to put it away.

Much time is lost when we are searching for things. If only they were put back. Much time is lost when only certain people know where the extras or replacements are kept.  As part of a peaceful home we all need to be able to function when some of us or all of us our here.

Start with writing a list of where you have things. Here’s one I did for our family.

Questions to ask yourself- Does everyone in the family know these answers?

  1. Where do I get the blank paper to draw/write on?
  2. Which paper is for the printer only?
  3. Where does the construction paper live?
  4. Where does the crayons and coloring things live?
  5. Where are the extra toilet rolls, kitchen towels, napkins etc kept?
  6. Where does the washing machine soaps and detergents live?
  7. Where are the cleaning products and what to do if they are running/run out?
  8. Where do papers go that come in from school?
  9. Where do shoes and boots live?
  10. Where do the coats live?
  11. Where do the musical instruments and sports equipment live?
  12. Where do I leave my bike and other outdoor games and toys?
  13. Where does the tape, envelopes, string, scissors, glue live?
  14. Where do the pencils and pens live?

The final part of where does this live after the family can find, replace and use these items is finding a way to know when they are almost finished or finished.  With multiple people refilling and replacing we often rely on someone else to say that it’s almost done or assume that everyone knows you finished the last part.

Also talking about leaving an area as you found it or better. As part of his contribution, he needed to replace the toilet rolls. But if that means opening a new package and leaving the empty bags on the floor it’s only a partial solution. We need to remain vigilant to teach the whole sequence including tidying up and reporting back.

This is the third part of the series : Peaceful solutions to minimize family strife.

Find the second part : Peaceful Solutions to Minimize Family Strife with Specific Solutions

Part 4: Peaceful Solutions to Minimize Family Strife – when you know how


What are you simplifying for a peaceful solution at home?

Family Meal Ritual Printable and Family goals and priorities for March

Family goals and priorities  for the month + a create your own family meal ritual printable

February has been a bigger blend of busy and slow. We’ve had a day here and there when we were going a lot but we then had lots of very slow days which seemed to even out everything. Mostly our days are slow and it’s learning how to navigate the busier days when they come along that’s often the more challenging for us and our family goals.

Birthday celebrations went well. Spring is birthday heavy in our families. We’re enjoying the ups and downs of the weather of frost one day and humid the next. I’m missing the daffodils. I need to find out when to plant them for next year.

Each month I’m sharing family and personal goals along with others and linking back to the previous month. I’d encourage you to join in too. Bit of accountability through a blog post or Instagram as we journey through motherhood.

Family goals

Here I’ll talk about the children and as parents the parenting things we’ll do and what we did.

We got a few short pillar candles and we’re glad to see them back.

Set up and clean up is improving. I wrote a two posts about our family meal ritual sharing what we’ve explored. It’s going to be an ongoing thing for them to get better and me to understand. Time to let them have time.

We didn’t finish the Island of Thieves- although we’re aching to find out what happens in the end. We know we’ll start The Academy next.  It’s a book we’ve started before as a read aloud but during the move and book rotation it disappeared. We were very happy to find it again.

The academy

I’m excited to be going to the Great Homeschooling Convention this month because the list of speakers feature so many of my favourites. So after the convention I’ll have some family goals to add. In the meantime we’ll get through these last few. Plus we have more birthdays and UK Mother’s day this month, we’re going to maintain our routines as we can and go with the flow as much as possible.

We completed, after lots of revisions our family quest scroll and that’s now hanging up by our dining table. We try and say it together 2  or more times together in the week. Keeping it top of mind.

Personal goals

Here I’ll talk about things for me.

  • Print a photobook or pictures to add to our wall.
  • Complete my next toastmasters speech
  • Completed The Traveller’s Gift and Nurturing the Soul of family. I’ve started the And the mountains echoed and dipping in and out of  A House United.
  • Unexpected bonus with the felted pebbles. We made them together and now use them as where we sit at the dinner table. One less argument over who is sitting at which map placemat. It’s also great to feel and fiddle with during dinner or conversations at the table. Originally it was just something for the table since the usual flowers and plants are not there.
  • Completely stalled on the journal- mislaid it! Found it! Mislaid it. Will try again.

Family Meal Rituals

Rituals that are simple, repeatable year on year and express love and family.

This month download your creating a family meal ritual to plan your own family flow.

family meal ritual cover

Free Printable

Hosted by Mama Smiles, Multi Crafting Mummy, Kitchen Floor Crafts,
3 Dinosaurs, Something 2 Offer, Play Activities, and Study At Home Mama.

Completing the Family Meal Ritual

Setting up a family ritual takes time as you try things out in your family. As the children get older we try new things and because sometimes we fancy a change.
Last time we talked about the need for a family ritual and explained the ritual from beginning too just as we were about to eat. You can read this beginning part first. There are some affiliate links within this post. Now on with this second part.

What happens after you’ve been grateful for the food?

Ideas for creating your family meal ritual

Engagement, Questions and Games

During the meal we talk about our day, ask questions or these questions or our new questions source. We really like how that last book is split into questions for the kids to ask us and questions that we can ask them. We enjoy the table topics- Familia questions. We share projects, posters from school, test revision questions- anything goes. We’ve been big fans of dinner games, in the past and recently we’ve had fun with “Don’t Say it!

All our regular mats are maps, significant places to us or homemade. We have many Geographical games celebrating our love of travel and Geography and History. ( Personally, I’m always excited when the Peter’s Projection Map comes out and the World Map, as we know it. No need to say anything to the kids. We have some good conversations about perspective)

Family meal gatherings are not quick and sombre things. We take time to rest easy in each other’s company. We notice our moods. It’s a time to laugh, share, catchup and connect. It’s a place we want to be. Without it we miss what’s going on with each other.

Service opportunities

When there’s time, opportunity and space we like to serve the food into bowls and containers. We want the boys to learn how to serve others.

Guests are served first, then the ladies present and finally each other. This ritual came about slowly as a way of expressing self control, kindness and being mindful of the portion size we take.  Also it allows the boys, who are all quite quick eaters to pace themselves a little.

Closing up and getting up and down from the table

We have quite a full table. We try and discourage getting up and down from the table as it’s really disruptive to those talking and the flow of the family meal. They are getting better at excusing themselves both verbally and non verbally without interrupting the speaker.

As acts of kindness the boys often take up the parents plates or each others. They’ve done this mostly themselves and we’ve not complained about it.

We wait for everyone to finish before serving dessert, if there is one.

Returning the collection, tidying up- knowing our roles

family meal ritual setup

We put back what we brought to the table and generally  try and work together to get things back where we can find them again easily. I used to sweep and wipe the table but I realised just recently that I wasn’t doing myself or the children any favours. I must say that the floor is a little cleaner now they are sweeping it :)

What you can’t see in this photo is the name of each child just off screen. We use initials and rotate the people every so often. We leave up the initial for the last time so we have an idea of who did what and who is doing what and it helps for the next time it changes.

Making the family meal your own

family meal ritual 3

Our family meal looks quite structured but for the most part we’ve added things slowly as we felt it fit our family. That’s the beauty of family meal rituals. We have our passions ( maps) and our values ( kindness and service) present. We keep it simple and repeatable. It’s the backbone to future conversations with friends, colleagues and others.

It’s not about family dinner or every meal spending time together as a family, it’s about when we are together, making those moments count. Have high expectations for your meal. How we handle dinner is part of our family standard. Working together we have our best version of our family meal . A place where memories are born.

Enjoy other rhythms for family

Follow Mel Avila’s board Simple rhythms and schedules in the home on Pinterest.

Creating a Family Meal Ritual

Creating a family meal ritual whether it's family dinner or another meal

Family meal times are a great place for connection, catchup and comfort. Like all things it changes over time as our family grows and changes. It’s a chance to put our values into action.

We wish for good

  • conversation
  • food
  • and a pleasant atmosphere

Building family rhythms help families create those 3cs of connection, catchup and comfort. The family meal time is anytime of the day that you want. As a family it’s tended to be the dinner time but we have family meal times at breakfast or lunch just as easily.

Why a Family Meal Ritual anyway?

  • We love the coming together of everyone participating in the meal. There may have been one person cooking but everyone has a hand in making the meal a family effort. This together thing helps families to know their strength as a unit and how we each are needed separately.
  • We love how we can repeat the same experience wherever we rest, be it hotel or holiday. We do this one thing the same.
  • We love our eclectic props and tools that each tell a story of children, friends, family and places.
  • We know what to expect– there’s time to anticipate and participate.
  • Whatever has happened we come together and do this thing in love.


Atmosphere at the table

Over the years we’ve found that you can plan for a good atmosphere, a little bit. There will always be curve balls but have a little something ready comes easily after a time and the children catch on and follow the lead. Now with five of us there’s always something to talk about.

We ask that everyone comes to the table ready to commune.  We have the giggly kids who arrive, still playing and knock over things and the mad kids who are still mad about something and would prefer to fold their arms and harumpf all through dinner.

We ask that the kids come to the table ready to be at the table asking that they resolve disputes enough to be civil and calm down enough to not be a liability to the things on the table. We’re not perfect but this has helped our atmosphere.


family meal ritual setup

Like contributions, we find it best to know who is doing what to helping set up the table. This is a recent thing for us. We used to let them have a free for all, in fact I quite like the negotiation skills they were developing but there is always at least one who gets the raw end of the stick and right now we’re helping them out from getting the worse jobs. Plus some children hog certain jobs and refuse to let them go. We’ll rotate between free for all and assigned rotating setups.

Collection and Setup

family meal ritual ideas

When you know what you’re doing it’s easy to do your job, know when something is missing and who it belongs to. The kids help each other out as one finishes up homework, colouring a picture a brother might complete their task. It’s an easy way to show kindness without expecting praise and reward. It also reduces the fighting over what which anything. It’s amazing at this sometimes cranky time, squabbles erupt over minor things. Right now they decide and have full control over their area and frankly they love it!

Gathering- pause, thankful practice

Family meal ritual ideas. Connecting at the  dinner table

We all gather at the table that’s fully laid. Many times Sometimes we need a pause to bring us all to the table. Slow breaths in and out or a 3- 5 second silence usually brings us all present away from the giggles, to do list making in our heads and not humming that song.

We say Grace using these prayer sticks.  We’ve also added to this list

  • Grandparents
  • Aunts and Uncles
  • Cousins
  • Family nearby and far away
  • Friends
  • Each of our names
  • Teachers
  • Helpers
  • Those who are hungry
  • Those who are hurting or sick
  • Those who need a hug and a friend

If we pull our name we put it back. Sometimes we get an off the cuff prayer, one person or everyone. Whatever works for the moment. All these activities lead up to the eating. The anticipation and joy of being together.

Follow my board for more ideas on family atmosphere
Follow Mel Avila’s board Family Atmosphere on Pinterest.

Join us for Part 2- From conversation to the end of the meal- Creating a Family Meal Ritual

Family goals and priorities for February

Family goals and priorities Feb

Although I love making goals I need some accountability in reaching them.

I’m sure I’m not alone there. Since I’m a big believer in scheduling things to get it done I’m also good at rescheduling and bumping myself of my own schedule. Just to be transparent. So in a bid to get more of the positive things I want and dream for the family started I’ve joined a new linky where we share our monthly goals.

Started is a better way ( instead of word of the year) for me in 2015. Many times I flesh out an entire project or idea and something happens and I can’t see how it can fit anymore. The whole thing gets benched. But if I get started then there is a chance to continue. When I stop it’s not a stop it is a pause. I can dive right back in. With this in mind, all the goals are things I want to do but most of all get started, keep going and be consistent. If I don’t keep going I can circle back around and once I get past keeping going then the point is to remain consistent.

I don’t have a hard time with this system although it might seem like a get out of jail free card. Our home life ebbs and flows depends on work, health, life and the kids. While there are some rigid things there’s also plenty of flexibility. The problem is keeping account of where you deduct you time from when you’re flexible.

I’m going to share two areas; family goals and personal goals.

I’d designed the Simple Parenting and Play Planner out of the need to have more of our family dreams and ideas a chance to actually come to light. So I’ll sometimes share what I’m doing with my planner too.


Family goals

Here I’ll talk about the children and as parents the parenting things we’ll do.

  • Find a just right pillar candle for dinner. We had one before we moved but you can’t take candles with you when you move overseas. I just noticed that it’s missing from our dinner ritual.
  • Work with the kids for a better and more effective set up and clean up at dinner time. It’s almost there but a few key parts are missed. I’m really looking for pride in doing a good job because we stopped to observe that it was complete, not that it was done perfectly. Many times I call the boys back for something because they got distracted and didn’t finish. When I call them back and say, ‘ Can you see something that’s not right?’ they can. I want to see fewer call backs and them saying a mantra or doing something to do that final look over. So when I ask them that question they can say no. Done not perfect is what I think.
  • Read aloud before the bus in the morning:
    The Island of Thieves   and complete this book by the end of the month and find a new one.
  • During our Family Roundtable: talk about family trips, places to see and things to do from the planner

Personal goals

Here I’ll talk about things for me.


Birthday Rituals

February is a birthday month so there’s the fun of the birthday rituals to plan.

Rituals that are simple, repeatable year on year and express love and family.

Simple love birthday rituals printable
free printable


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4 Family Flow ideas for a More Peaceful Family Home

family flow for a peaceful family home

Family flow are the things that keep your family moving. Typically we focus on routines like the morning run or contributions. These are places where we get stuck and instead of flowing there’s a problem. With families the earlier you can start working on your family flow the easier it is as they get older. Bad habits are hard to break. Often if you think of some of the things that are bugging you about your family atmosphere it’s likely that there’s a family flow problem.

For a more peaceful family home we need to work together as a family. This can’t come from just one direction. Here are four ways we can tighten up our family flows.

Devise systems

Devise systems so you’re not reteaching the same thing many times. Many of the things we get frustrated with as parents are to do with children not knowing the system ( or doing the system!) Systems seem so boring but it gives the chance to master something when we have a way that we do it. We all have our things; how to hang clothes/fold into draws.


Rotate responsibilities

As a military spouse I know that my partner deploys and work commitments may take him out of the home for extended periods of time.  Many families have this same situation with spouses who travel for work or shift workers.

We need to know how to do everything. We may split things up when our partner is home but we need to know how to do when they are away. The same for the kids. Whether you’re a girl or boy you need to know how to do laundry and notice when the idle is playing up on the car. ( well maybe not the idle just yet but you get my point) Contributions are great but not if you’re stuck with the same one for life. Everyone needs to have a chance to learn how to do each thing.

Guard freetime & downtime.

We all need the break but here is where we steal time to fit a few things in. It might mean scheduling free time on your calendar to make sure it doesn’t get squeezed. Maybe you need to leave the house, hike, meet other families to get your freetime. Nothing planned. No directing. Letting the passions bubble up and creativity ooze. We need the break.

Come together in laughter and expression

Share the problems with the family and you’ll be amazed at the solutions that come. We have a springy laundry basket, great for flattening to take in a suitcase. The boys hurl their laundry at it. Laundry is draped over it, falling out of it and because it’s not strong sided it regularly tips over after the launch of a pair of jeans comes its way. I felt I was the only one picking everything up. It was a frustration. I knew the boys were pitching and walking and not looking at the basket. I asked one of the boys, I have no idea why I asked, but I’m glad I did, ” What would you do if you saw this ( pointing at the disaster of the laundry basket!)? How would you fix it?” So sweetly he said, “I’ll do it.” Taking this to our family roundtable would be the next best thing to find some solutions that work too.

Retelling funny stories and incidents from your day or bringing back up fun times from the past is a great way to unite a family. All too often family roundtables and dinner is hijacked by something negative that’s happened in school, home or life. We have to parent. I get it but we must also seek out- draw out the positive funnies too. We love sharing the latest corny joke, made up joke- that’s not quite funny, sniggering over the Confessions podcast, retelling favourite scenes. We want times of laughter and expressions of frustration to be blended into the family instead of weighted heavily in either direction.

Bringing together a regular routine of systems, routines, guarding freetime and allowing for a blend of laughter and expression gives the family a chance to experience the ebb and flow of life. We have more time to do things together and apart because one member of the family isn’t doing it all. We learn to work, laugh and support each other as family. We learn our place. How important we are to the family.

Once you learn how to do things after following the instructions you’re free to go off course, try new things and play about with the current model. Family flows don’t need to be regimented and militant in execution ,at all. They do give a warm and cosy direction for the kids to follow instead of the usual game of guess what mummy and daddy want me to do and how they want me to do it.

Our family atmosphere is dramatically better when we’ve looked into some of our family flows and made the adjustments we need for our family. How about your family?

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