Meet at the Family Roundtable

Meet at the family roundtable- fun place to discuss family future, vision and ups and downs.

There’s something about gathering around a meal.

A simple pleasure. The final part when we’re altogether enjoying a meal, enjoying the warmth of each others company. With picky eaters and family schedules that meal maybe breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert or one special evening a week.

It’s a time of coming together.

In many homes, gathering around meals is around a table with us all facing each other. Although these days we can all be in the same house eating meals but at different times according to our schedules. Finding the opportunity to sit side by side and visit is a big problem in many of our families. It’s finding the time and it’s what happens when we do. What do you say to each other? Can you be pleasant? You start to notice table manners.

With everyone enjoying their food and in good spirits it’s the ideal time to gather the family together for a family roundtable.

What is a Family Roundtable?

Family Roundtable:  Meeting of the family to share and discuss the ups and downs of family where everyone has a voice and our family truths are reinforced. A time and place for celebrations and acknowledgements. Sweet treats and fun activities. Not a season of whinning

Apart from a time to share what’s happened during the day or recently family time together at the table is a good way of sharing what’s going to happen in the future and gather family opinion on upcoming events.

Before each session that happens once a month or so everyone has the chance to bring to the table problems and things they have noticed.  Along with positive things to celebrate. We have a chart on the fridge.

Why a Family Roundtable?

Many of the squabbles we have in our homes are petty things that don’t get a chance to be aired and everyone listened to. How you fill the trash can and what you do when the bag slips down really wasn’t a big deal to me. But it was to those in the family who had to empty the bin. There were a few people who didn’t check when they pitched into the trash.

As a result when you took out the bag you had to take out the complete bin and wash it down. Effectively doubling the contribution and making him unhappy.

Very unhappy.

Seems petty and annoying but from his point of view he’d told the culprits and it made him get all crazy about a trash bag and how we fill a bin.

Fill a bin! One day recently he placed it on our Family Roundtable worksheet as a point to raise in the gathering.

Impact of the Family Roundtable

After we listened and silenced the rolling eyes, everyone was better at doing the trash. This niggle that had been building for weeks was finally out and squashed. We refer back to the agreement.  It’s here the boys got a taste of empathy for each other. Because for one son it was the trash bag and mess that he wanted to talk about. Another son wanted to talk about breaking up of his LEGO sets and another wanted to know when he would be getting pocket money. They got a voice. Here was the time.

If you want to know more about family roundtables, check out the Creating a family haven online course. The next one starts in 2014. I walk you step by step through creating a family roundtable for your young family. Sign up to keep in touch.

Conversation:  How can we gather together as a family to share our highs and lows? share our visions? opinions? upcoming events? Is the communication mostly adult to child and not back and forth?

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That’s your job- Gender

That's your job- Gender

According to Pew research, 40% of all households with children under the age of 18 include mothers who are either the sole or primary source of income for the family. The share was just 11% in 1960

These “breadwinner moms” are made up of two very different groups: 5.1 million (37%) are married mothers who have a higher income than their husbands, and 8.6 million (63%) are single mothers

Household makeup changes impact each generation. When you look back to what your parents do and did and compare to what happens in your home. It’s likely quite different. The conversations you have about work and family are so different.

Whether you have girls, boys or a mix children learn what they experience. What’s the gender distribution like in your home?

Earlier in this 31 days of growing family conversations we talked about redistributions of contributions in the home. As we journey through motherhood we go in and out of work. But it seems that our share of the tasks at home isn’t often revised often enough. I can’t talk for everyone but in a general statement, if you look back at what you did when you were just the two of you and what you do now with children, the contributions and tasks you do probably haven’t changed that much. But you workloads probably have changed a lot.

It’s not necessarily been deliberate. With so many things to focus on. It’s easier to pick up the slack, whichever gender, someone has to do it- right?! If you look at your contributions and tasks at home and haven’t had a conversation about it in a while have a look at starting that conversation by visiting  day 15 redistribution of contributions.

Today I wanted to look really briefly at gender. As a mother of boys it’s always been important that the boys can see themselves doing everything in the home. That they can do both now and later.

With the younger ones it’s always interesting hearing them say- “That’s for girls!” or “That’s a girls job!” You wonder where they get these ideas from. There are a few deliberate things we’ve tried to do to force a change to those statements.

  •  whoever cooks the others do clean up.
  • Everyone cooks something each week.
  • Laundry sorting starts early.
  • We learn to fold and put away our own clothes and help each other fold sheets and put on duvet covers.
  • They learn to program the washing machine, fill it, run it and switch it over to the dryer.
  • They see me fixing, adjusting their toys, furniture as well as taking out the trash and checking the oil.

That list wasn’t about being a perfect mum or family. We still have those statements thrown around in our home. Yes I do challenge them. Lightly. This doesn’t always happen. But it does happen many times.

I can’t tell if it’s less than before. It’s never been about the numbers.It’s something we battle against little by little. But it’s not a war.

The boys experience this regularly. So it’s a start.

It is about starting the conversation now with our young children that whether we’re a girl or a boy we can be effective, sensitive, adapting to situations adults. In years to come they may experience more breadwinner moms. I’d like to think that whatever comes their way they can have open and honest conversations about gender that fit with their family.

Conversations: How do we talk about gender in our home? What do our actions show ?How are we confronting gender stereotypes? How are we talking about strengths and not bashing women or bashing men? What would be on your list?

This post is day 27 of 31 days of growing family conversations.

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Welcome to The Sunday Parenting Party, hosted by Dirt and Boogers, Play Activities, Crayon Freckles, Taming the Goblin, The Golden Gleam, Prickly Mom, and The Tao of Poop. The SPP is place for readers to find ideas on nurturing, educating, and caring for children, as well as honest posts about the stresses of being a parent or caregiver. Links to reviews and giveaways are welcome as long as they are relevant to the topic. All parenting philosophies are welcome with one exception: please do not link to posts promoting physical discipline, as this is something we would feel uncomfortable having on our blogs. (P.S. By linking up you agree that your post and photos are Pinterest, Sulia, G+ and FB friendly. We will be showcasing ideas on The Sunday Parenting Party Pinterest board.)

3 easy family traditions and rituals

Traditionally when we think of family traditions we look to mealtimes.

Dinnertimes you’ve probably got it covered already.

So let’s look to some of the other areas. Places we can put in some fun, smiles and connection to smooth over sticky parts to our day. Stop us from going crazy. Connect with our little ones and try something new that’s unique to our family.

There are so many other places we can have fun family traditions.

 

Goodbye rituals

Wouldn’t it be fun to have a goodbye that is totally just your family way. You see all the cool fist bumps, high fives and hand combinations but what about one just for your family. It could be an action or a saying.

Goodbyes for families

When we need to cool off a new ritual for us

  • Breath deeply slowly three times.
  • Get a drink.
  • Seek a candle or incense
  • Look out the window at nature
  • People watch
  • Go to your comfy space
  • ….playdough. ( feels good to squish and squash in the hand. Out goes the tension)

Family song and dance around

Relive your youth again and share your favourite songs with the kids.  A little here and there. Do you find yourself going back to a song?

Our family song is  Seasons of love from the Rent soundtrack. We sung it regularly when Mr PlayActivities was deployed for a year since it has the line- 525 600 minutes how do you measure a year. It had lots of significance and still does. When this song comes on we melt into a puddle of  singing fools and hugs.

Personal request…..

If anyone has any rituals for leaving the house of a playdate or friend I would love to hear…………….

This post is day 26 of the 31 days of growing family conversations. This week the focus is on family. Previous weeks we’ve talked to the children, us and our spouse. We’re finding time to ask and answer these questions for our family.

Conversation: What family traditions do you already do? What new tradition will connect your family that’s simple and doable?

 

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Helping others

act as if what you do makes a difference

 

How are we helping others in our family?

Conversation: What do we do as a family that makes a difference? What new things could we do?

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Empathy books for children

empathy books for children

We want our children to share and understand how others feel. We expect them to understand what it is like to be in someone else’s boots.

It’s not that easy to share one on one. We get all wordy and tongue-tied.

Stories really help families talk about empathy.You don’t have to agree with the character, in fact these sometimes make the best conversations. The character may be just like your family or do things in another way.

Add a few to your next library run or order a few for home.

Empathy books for children

 


A Visitor for Bear (Bear and Mouse)


Each Kindness (Jane Addams Award Book (Awards))

How Do I Stand in Your Shoes?

How Willy Got His Wheels

Five Minutes’ Peace

My Mouth Is a Volcano!

Kindle


THE SECRET TO HAPPINESS (HUGO THE HAPPY STARFISH – An Inspiring Sea Adventure for Young Children)

Older/School age


When I Was Eight

The Potato Chip Champ

Looking after Louis


Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge (Picture Puffin)


Stand in My Shoes: Kids Learning About Empathy

Much older


The One and Only Ivan

Wonder

Something to Hold

 

This post is part of day 24 of growing family conversations.

Empathy is part of something we all want to have in our families. No one wants every book to be preachy or with a specific message. Neither in our family is every conversation at dinner on a deep topic. There is though a time and a place for discussion books and having a few around or added to your library list helps provide a prompt for conversation. Just because a book is for the younger age it still gets a lot of mileage in our home.

Conversation:  As a family  how do you support developing empathy between siblings and each other? What tools do you use and stories do you already have?

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Let’s talk about family atmosphere

Let's talk about family atmosphere

We’ve just had a recent move.

All the boys are experimenting with sleeping in the same room and a room and a room for activities. It’s been interesting the morning wake up. They have their own built in snooze as each alarm clock goes off.  Our rooms are in different places now so you can hear the chit chatter as they slowly wake up and get going. On went the music from Star Wars as they all became Darth Vader- dun dun dun dun for while.

The music was derailing the fine start.

From my vantage point when do I go in and encourage? Do I go in and roar? Do I do nothing and wait?

I waited. But I didn’t stay there.

Put on a load of laundry and put on some jazz while I was downstairs. Just recently found my cd during the move. I felt a lot better.

The boys appeared one by one to get ready for breakfast and practice their instruments.

It was good to see them. Hugs, kisses and smiles all around.

This morning had to be deliberate with myself on the atmosphere I would create.  We bring with us our worries and fears especially things on our minds like extended family, our work, problems with money, marital strive and the house echoes with the atmosphere we create.

All to often  we think about atmosphere always has to be upbeat and positive. This is neither desirable or achievable in any house. It’s a bit odd really as it seems to deny feelings. Family life is full of ups and downs. Family atmosphere will go up and down too with lots of even. I want my children to grow up in an upbeat and positive home but when their parents are at odds with each other, have stuff going on or just having a bad day I want them to see the resolution of it. I want them to be confident that in our home things get back to an even keel. Sometimes we need to back off. We need to be there and listen. We need a hug or touch. We need to say the third or fourth thing that comes to mind and not the first thing. We need to walk in their shoes.

Yesterday  the focus of the 31 days of growing family conversations was about the power of words said to our children and spoken in our home. Today we’re looking more at the atmosphere and moving onto family questions after a week of kid questions. If we peeled off the roof of your home and listened in would we see some resolutions happening.

When we snapped and were sarcastic because we were tired did you get a chance to apologize or talk about the situation in a child friendly way.

Mummy was a little snip snappy wasn’t she. I’m sorry.

The boys usually give me a hug and offer me a chance for time out. Which I think is hilarious because we don’t do time out in the way they suggest it to me. They also repeat back things I tell them about how we use our words and what we should do if we can’t say something nice. You just have to smile.

When everyone was in the whinny stage calming music would bring them back or change of scene. Going outside! Rainy days and big splashes! We have the power to change the atmosphere in our homes.

There are generally hotspots in most families around atmosphere and where it gets toxic. We slide between fine and horrible and feel terrible. We have the power to impact the atmosphere in our home from the morning or when they come home from school. Pick a time. Pick a toxic hotspot where there atmosphere isn’t quite how you’d like.  It’s not about Mary Poppins parenting or perfect parenting. It’s about creating a climate at home where our children can thrive.  What’s your atmosphere at home been today?

Conversation: What is the dominant family atmosphere like- light? close? allowing space? dictator? military? balanced? even? full of hotspots?

If we peeled back your roof at dinnertime, bedtime, afterschool, morning, storytime, idependent play or sibling playtime  or another time in family life how is the family atmosphere?

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The power of words

Words are powerful.

Every child learns this through tears.

It’s not enough to hope that they understand the magnitude of their words.

We have to share things bit by bit everyday. Point out things that happen  like interactions on the street.

Pause the movie and ask questions. Notice their language and the language of their friends. Be present to overhear and listen what they see, do watch and hang with.  It’s not just them we need to be mindful too. Not perfect but wise in our words. It’s not about being a wordsmith or an English major. Yet we know the power of words goes far and used well the impact is positive.

It’s important that we watch our tone, the lightness in our voice or the thunder and the rain.  You hear the irritation in other’s voices as you’re at the Mall, coffee shop or on the walk in town.  We don’t know what’s got them to that point. But we can check our words and be motivated to change.

What’s the weather of words like in your home?

Power of words- Domanmom  power of words 2

power of words 3  power of words 4

This is probably one of the hardest things we do in our homes; watching our words. The tiredness, the sarcasm, the frustration. We all have those days. The times when we’re on cloud nine and nothing feels like it would change the upbeat mood.

The power of words seeps into our motivation. When you can’t find something- ” I always lose things. It’s never where I put it. Why do they take it? It’s not my fault!”  words change our motivation. When  the children are testing or performing there’s a lot of anxiety around of failure. They do need to learn to be resilient and it helps if they have some words to power them through and express some of their anxiety but work through a way that stops it from paralyzing them. That’ll be different for each person.

Go after that child- not necessarily straight away- that mumbles negativity, stores up tension in their body language. Support them with the power of words. They may need encouragement. They may need a listening ear and a quiet place.

Conversation: Challenge between you and your child to notice 3 times before bedtime someone who encouraged someone in the family without it being obvious- a genuine encouragement.

With three boys in the house we’ve had many times when one is upset and angry at another for their words or a situation that escalated. We try encouraging reconciliation through encouragement and action. We say a fair bit of sorry but it’s not always geninue. Not quite sure how to get past this really.

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Questions to start the conversation when talking to family

Questions to start the conversation when talking to family

It’s never been easier to connect with our families wherever they are in the world.

As a military family we’re often away from our immediate family. I know it’s the same for many. When we get together at family gatherings it’s not always the best time to ask some of the deep and long questions we’d all love to hear.  Children have projects about family history. They have questions. It’s not always easy.

But we’d all appreciate questions to start the conversation when talking to family. A chance to talk a little deeper or finding out parts of life that don’t come into a telphone conversation or a weekend family visit during a celebration.

Whether you like Skype, What’s up app, email, phone or video chat it’s never been easier to send a question to our folks and have a moment to hear the response.

Conversations over the phone has the tendency to go like conversations after school. If you ask- how have you been or you’re not sure what your nieces, nephews, or grandparents are upto then conversation is really light on detail. After school conversations are sometimes similar with- how was school? It’s hard to build connection this way.

Quickly setting up a system with your parents or siblings you can go through a book together with prompts for questions. Respond whichever way you want and kickstart some family conversation and learning about distant family. It’s not always easy to involve family but it’s worth having a try on a regular basis.

 

Books to start the conversation when talking to family

300 Questions to Ask Your Parents Before It’s Too Late

Questions to Bring You Closer to Mom: 100+ Conversation Starters for Mothers and Children of Any Age

Questions To Bring You Closer To Dad: 100+ Conversation Starters for Fathers and Children of Any Age!

 

Questions to Bring You Closer to Grandma and Grandpa: 100+ Conversation Starters for Grandparents of Any Age

Questions For My Father: Finding the Man Behind Your Dad


Conversation: Encourage asking questions to grandparents. Let your siblings and cousins also be asked questions.

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Sharing childhood memories

sharing childhood memories

Go back to a golden moment in your childhood. Something that you remember or is remembered about you.

My parents have a picture of me on my bike outside a place I called ‘Bumpy’.  Whenever I see that picture I remember this place. I must have been 5 or so in the picture maybe a little older?

There are many pictures like this where my parents can tell me about what was going on. What it was like. Now in an age of Instagram and our smartphones we’re taking even more pictures. Great memories.

I’d like to think we’re connecting our children to stories their photos. I’d like to think we’re connecting with our stories and sharing stories about pictures, videos and special items we have at home. All too often we think our children will groan at our stories and maybe they will in time. It’s the way of family to know out past and our present. Let’s not leave it to family occasions for the embarrassing and funny stories or the touching  stories to come out.  Family stories aren’t just for solemn occasions but to enjoy over dinner, on car rides, during moments.

Children love to hear when we were children what we did and how things were. Things were always so different.

Sharing childhood memories

Just the other day I found a 1/2p and it lead to a whole conversation about how 20p bought us 40 sweets. 40 sweets!  At least for the sweets my boys wanted to be back in my childhood for that! Now when we pass the candy section the boys love to talk about half penny chews and how lucky we were back then. ( Cheek! back then) It was pretty special to be able to get lots of sweets.

Conversation:  Find pictures of the children when they are younger and share what they were doing? Why they were doing it? Something about their clothes? Was it a favourite outfit? Share childhood memories via a photo, video or object. Make it a talking point. Seek out opportunities to share memories that are funny, silly, embarrassing and a little naughty with your children.

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Welcome to The Sunday Parenting Party! This week’s hosts are denoted by the word {host} behind their link’s name in the list below. The SPP is place for readers to find ideas on nurturing, educating, developing and caring for children, as well as honest posts on the stresses of being a parent or caregiver. Reviews and Giveaways are welcome as long as they are relevant to the topic.

 

All parenting philosophies are welcome with one exception, please do not link posts promoting physical discipline as this is something we would feel uncomfortable having on our blogs.

 

PS: By linking up you agree that your post and photos are Pinterest, Sulia, G+ and FB friendly. We will be showcasing ideas on our The Sunday Parenting Party Pinterest board.

What would you love to do

This is a piggy back post for day 16 what do you love to do.

During that conversation your children got a chance to share their current loves and what they love to do. The next day on day 17 they shared what they love to do with us.

Today they get to share what they would love to do?  You might have had this part of the conversation already. It’s a good prompt to know where your child’s loves lie. This type of question sometimes feels like the money question. Nothing is off limits. It’s a conversation. Maybe you have the power to make it come true:)

Conversation: What would you LOVE to do? Keep it as broad or tight as you see the need in your family. Give them a chance to talk it though.

What would you love to do

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