Articles - Family Habits Worth Building

What People Say
I am confident that the education they have received will make them individuals who can and will take the time to think for themselves and inspire and lead others.
Charles Greenhalgh, Parent

7 Family Habits Worth Building (and How to)

If I were a fly on the wall in your home on a good day what would the atmosphere be like?

It’s interesting how much our family atmosphere or family culture goes up and down.  There’s definitely a rhythm to it.

Now when you think of those golden moments and good times- is it loud dinner time conversations or snuggly book reading?  It’s interesting because when we think about family culture and family atmosphere at home we all think differently.

What I think is cool, you may not, and that’s okay.  Now the question is: how can we get more of the atmosphere we want at home…and does it really matter?

Turns out it does.

Happier families are ones that intentionally make choices.  That’s not to say that every decision they make will be right but when we keep an eye on something, pay attention to something we notice and can respond better.

Why build family habits?

There are a lot of really practical things we share and teach our children like don’t touch it’s hot.  Look before you cross the road.   These are our mantras the kids can finish for us.  Then there are habits we would love to see, but are a little trickier to teach.

  • Habits make us productive.
  • Habits give us time to have fun.
  • Habits give rhythm and structure to a day that otherwise would be spent reacting to everything that’s happening.
  • Habits give us welcome pauses.
  • Habits are a must have for moms and families.

These trickier habits are more about how our family runs, the temperature of it. When you visit some homes, there’s just calm peaceful atmosphere. There’s likely structure, order and more than a side order of fun. The way they speak to each other, how they resolve problems, relate to each other is clear.

It’s not perfect, nor is it supposed to be – but you noticed it.

Building family habits is as easy as noticing it and making the intention to follow through and do it.

Which 7 habits are worth building in my family?

There are many habits to try and where we fail is that we don’t make them age appropriate and we sometimes focus too much on the long term outcomes.

If my 5 year old follows a 2 step direction, I’m happy.  It doesn’t always happen and I hoped by now he would be able to but he’s working on it.  I have an age appropriate response compared to my 10 year old.  Instilling the habit of a clean room is good for him now and later.  But breaking it down into small steps and doing well with each step and building on each step.  This is better right now than the final focus although in view, it is not the sole aim.

Here are our 7:

1) Cheerfulness   My mum sang while she moved around the house, as she ran up the stairs, as we headed out in the car.  Some people are just cheerful.  Her mood was and still is catching.  Cheerfulness is catching.   How we greet each other and our children we set the tone for cheerful interaction.  Our face doesn’t always show are sunny happy feelings ever to our children. We do spend a lot of time looking stern and exasperated.

2) Determination   “Just keep swimming”  the famous Dory from Nemo said.  Perseverance and determination are just budding in our families.   So many times we hear, ” I can’t do it!” followed by wailing and emotion.  It’s so easy for us as parents to just do it ourselves. It’s quicker.  There’s a time and place for everything.  Encouraging our kids to have grit is good for them now and for the future.  Life is not a sprint.  Family time is the place to cultivate and nurture this ‘muscle’.

3) Diligence   Haphazard and slapdash.  If you’ve ever asked the kids to do something saying, ” Put all those toys in the box and then we’re going to  { insert your fun thing here}.” What happens? The activity doesn’t get done well.  Kids are easily distracted.  Jo from Organized Chaos talked about in a recent Montessori interview on Raising Playful Tots, that a task is taking it out, doing the activity AND putting it away.  It’s paying attention to the details and showing our children they can do it that matters.

4) Listening   So many misunderstandings happen because we didn’t listen.  We misunderstood.  Life is busy, work all consuming, children constant… waves of tiredness threaten to take over yet we can listen fully.  Listen in two ways. Listen to others.  Get good opinions.  Cultivate a home where we let each other speak.  Interrupt less and not cut each  other off when we think we know what they are going to say.

5) Patience   Things don’t always work out when we think they will. That note to school took longer to write.  The laces to longer to tie and that zipper too. In a calm home there is space for patience. “We’ve got time….try again.”  “It’s alright to get it wrong here….why don’t you try again…this time….”

6) Reflection  When life moves at such a pace we don’t get a chance to look back and reflect on what went so well and what you’d never want to happen again.  Not just an activity for New Year’s a family that looks back is able to build on their strengths.  Take different directions and work to the needs of the family than feeling tossed around by the sea of life.

7) Self control   Being able to put off things now so that later you can have it is hard.  Not doing something even though every fibre in your body is willing you to do it.  Knowing to think first act next.  Self control not a popular or easy idea when you can get almost everything instantly.  Children need the time and space to develop self control at home.  It’s hard.  But there’s space for waiting and getting a reward.

How can we build these family habits?

Well this is the place that most of us get stuck. We want to do these things but somehow days turn into months and then years. New challenges come our way.

First we need to become more intentional.  Focus on what’s important and decide to make it happen in our family.  What is important? We need to have regular discussions and make sure we’re staying on track. Working in our family is not the same as work where we have trophies, promotions and bonuses to track our success.  Working in our family has its rewards but it’s not the same.  Yet we see later on the choices we made and in how things work out.

Melitsa Avila
Founder of Raising Playful Tots