Three key pillars provide the foundation for a harmonious family: trust, respect and teamwork. Teamwork can be the easiest and most fun to teach. Think about it… there are endless opportunities for the family to engage as a team.
The New Year brings a great occasion for a team challenge. Instead of focusing on individual ‘resolutions,’ families can create a family mission statement: a united goal that will get everyone working together.
Plan for Success
Choosing the family mission statement is half the battle. It may take some time to find a common goal. Start out by brainstorming to come up with a list of possibilities. Make sure everyone contributes at least one idea, so each member of the family has a personal investment in the process.
If your family is having a hard time brainstorming, here are a few ideas to get started:
- Serve your community: Set a goal to volunteer as a family at least once a month. There are dozens of opportunities in every community from picking up trash at your neighborhood park, or serving food at the local soup kitchen, to walking dogs at the animal shelter.
- Team Planet Earth: Assign your family to an environmental cause. Pledge to bike to work, school or soccer practice instead of driving, plant a tree every month, reduce everybody’s shower time by 2 minutes, or plant a garden.
- Food for thought: Make a change to the way your family eats. You could reduce the frequency you eat at restaurants, vow to go meatless one day a week, eliminate a junk food, or explore foods from a new culture each month.
- Money matters: Work together on a family budget, or a new financial goal. Save more, donate more; reduce the monthly entertainment expenses, or anything that gets your family thinking about the value of money.
Once you have a list, start narrowing down ideas by crossing off anything that obviously doesn’t work. Talk about the remaining ideas and use the discussion as an opportunity to examine your family values and share ideas for how you can collectively achieve each of the goals.
Making it Work
So now that you’ve identified the mission statement, just how are you going to execute?
Seattle-area dietician Wendy Caamano, MS, RD, CD, says for nutrition goals, everyone needs to be committed. “Take one step at a time and understand that even little changes make a difference that may lead to achieving long term goals in the future. Simply adding one vegetable to the plate at dinner is a huge step in the right direction, and once you start doing that, your family may decide they enjoy vegetables and start incorporating more of them into every meal.”
Caamano also suggests keeping it light and fun, to avoid making the process stressful. And while these principles are nutrition-centered, her advice for success can be applied to essentially any family mission.
Even for the most active and involved families, there is always room for change, improvement or a new venture. Embrace the new year by forgoing your typical resolutions in favor of a family-based mission that will bring you all closer together and instill new family traditions for years to come.