What do all happy families have in common??

Some families just seem to exude happiness – almost Disney channel like perfect family happiness. Leaving the rest of us feeling as though our family-life is like a horror movie, with siblings who want to kill each other and lots of shouting!! Yet in lots of ways families are like organisations; when the teams are all working together for a common cause, there is harmony and calm.

The question then becomes how do we create a culture within our family which breeds co-operation, collaboration, and not competition?? The answer, as always, comes from the way the leadership team (thats’s you by the way), conducts itself. Here are my top three tips to get you started:

  1. Start with your own morning routine. To lead by example, you need to give yourself time each and every morning to get your own head in the game. Time to reflect on what’s showing up for you, and to fine tune your plans for the day based on what your reflective practice throws up. I hear so many parents tell me they simply don’t have time for this. My answer is always – you absolutely DO have time. You spend more time fire-fighting in your family because you run each day on autopilot – doing the same thing each and every day and somehow expecting a very different result. Giving yourself the first 30 minutes of your day by either blocking it out, or waking 30-minutes earlier will give you back 3 times the duration in peace of mind and family harmony.
  2. Communicate regularly and respectfully with your family. We so often expect our children to simply ‘know’ what we expect of them, and then get frustrated when they don’t do as we ask, yet we very rarely communicate clearly and effectively. I know you will no doubt be tutting and exhaling “I always communicate Maryhan, my child/children just don’t listen!”. I know we TELL our children lots of things, and usually when we are in the middle of something else. Yet how often do we actually sit down with our children to explain our expectations, why we have them, and practically how these expectations might play out day to day?? Answer honestly.
  3. Schedule family time. To create a family culture of cooperation we need to nurture the relationships within the family. The best way to do this is by scheduling regular times each week to do things together as a family. This might be a family film, a game, an activity, a bike ride, a walk, or a day trip. Whatever it is, it should be something you have agreed to do together as a family, take turns to agree and organise the time, honouring everyones varying interests and passions. When it comes to building cohesive and cooperative teams, it’s all about shared experiences.

Family life is always going to have its ups and downs and no amount of tweaking is going to stop this. However, when we follow these three simple steps we find harmony prevails more often than discord, the shouting becomes less the norm and we actively look forward to spending time together.

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