Updated: Dec 20, 2020
Ideas were never a problem for us. Action was.
To encourage action and reduce risk of failure, we had to plan these ideas into our week instead of have life plan something out for us.
The changes needed to be enjoyable and give room for making mistakes or even reverting back to old ways from time to time.
We had the structure. We had the ideas. It was now time to implement.
Value Infusion 1 - Dinner Connection
Meals with kids were usually a husband/wife catch up amidst interruptions of random kid thoughts and high-level negotiating on food consumption amounts.
Wanting to bring our kids more into the discussion, we created a list of questions ranging from "what's your favorite animal" to "how would you respond if you saw someone being picked on" and put them in a jar.
Each kid gets to pick one question per supper and then we all take turns answering.
(It doesn't always work well, but we've added some ways to make it more successful with the question sheets in our free Intentionalism Family Pack)
Value Infusion 2 - Thankful Board
I'd love to say that our kids are the most appreciative beings on the planet, but the truth is that even their parents aren't close.
It's way easier to be consumed with what isn't happening than appreciate what is.
But as with many things in life, happiness doesn't come from the external but the internal.
Wanting our kids to grow in a culture of gratitude, we introduced into our family "the thankful board".
A simple chalkboard that hangs on the wall to our basement, but encourages each of us to stop and think about something we're thankful for and write it down.
When it's full, we take it down and take turns talking about what we've all written. Then we clean it off and hang it up for more.
(we have girls, 6 and 8, and this works well with them. If you try this with a different age and gender let us know if you find different ways to make this work with them)
Value Infusion 3 - Decrease the tech. Increase Passions and skill development.
Every day our kids would come home from school and excitedly plop down on the couch to watch shows or play iPhone games.
This was fine by us as it gave us time to prep supper and get some things done.
But as we watched how time was spent, we realized that when they woke up...they watched shows. When they came home from school...they watched shows. Before bed...they watched shows.
Our house will show that we aren't anti-tech and tv, but bringing it under the eye of intentionalism revealed that we needed to limit their watching and introduce more valuable ways for them to spend their free time.
So we did two things...
1) We turned watching shows into a family movie night once a week and during set times. No more watching in the morning except Saturday, after school was replaced with #2 below, and before bed was alternated here and there with reading together.
2) The hour after school was turned into intentional building of skills and passions.
Part of intentionalism for us is creating opportunities for our kids to discover and pursue what they're passionate about. We want them to try new things and see what they gravitate to. The ones they do get more attention and time.
We were already aware of certain passions of theirs and had our own desires for them to learn a 2nd language and an instrument. So we made another list based off of that and asked the girls to come up with some of their own.
Ours looked like this - gymnastics, dance, language, instrument, cooking, writing stories, Netflix, creative time (ie. drawing, Lego, crafts).
Our thinking was if we give them the choice of what to do (within the parameters of having value) and keep the parent picks to 15 minutes each that they'll grow in these areas without us being the stereotypical overbearing sports/pageant parent.
So half an hour is parent's choice (Spanish and piano) and half an hour is kid's choice.
The kids made charts and each Sunday pick which activities they're going to fill the hour with. It's flexible enough that if on Tuesday they'd rather do Wednesdays pick they can swap. They just can't swap for Friday. On Fridays, they're allowed to use the time to watch shows or play on phones...and they always do.
Value Infusion 4 - Day of Intentionalism
The biggest change to our weekly routine came in the form of setting aside Sundays to be an intentional family day.
On this day, we rotate through the other ideas that we weren't able to put into our week without the whole thing seeming forced or adding to the pressure of life instead of relieving it.
Sundays we implemented...
Monthly Activity (bowling, laser tag, skating, bike riding, etc.)
Going Through Finances
We create the day around all of our values - connection, gratitude, growing in passions, rest, adventure, creativity.
The point is to spend it doing these things as a family as a way to spend time together and involve our kids in regular responsibilities that they'll need to know as adults.
Here's an idea of what that looks like:
Meal Planning/grocery shopping - this is to save time and mental energy throughout the week.
We made a list (yes, intentionalism started with a lot of lists) of meals we enjoy and broke them into 3 categories - 1) Regular 2) Quick 3) Blue Moon. Each person picks a meal and we schedule them on days according to how early our evening activities are. The earlier the easier.
Most grocery stores in our area allow us to order our food items online.
Planning takes 5 minutes and online shopping takes 30. Time and stressing over meals saved throughout the week...a lot.
(We've toyed with the idea of going in person and breaking into teams (1 parent 1 child per) and splitting the list to see who can finish shopping quicker. Losers buy winners a treat. Have yet to do it, but kids will love it)
Cooking/baking - we turned the usual processed snack buys into family time, skill training, and healthier eating by using these days to bake as a family. Watch the egg shells and hot stoves, but kids love to do the work and are quite proud of their creations as we snack on them throughout the week.
Finances - Our kids concept of money was "it buys me toys and candy", but we wanted them to start to understand how to use it as a tool and the value of saving and spending.
We use fake Monopoly-type money and, once a month, count out our income and give each kid half. Then we take our major expense items (house, car, groceries, etc) and relate the number to an item they understand and have them put the money in an envelope or jar.
For instance, we'll ask them to name a toy they want. Then tell them our food cost is $800 and that they could buy 25 dolls for that price. Their eyes always get big as they connect the number to a value.
Generosity is a great antidote against materialism and one of our values so we pick 3 charities or areas of need each month and the girls get $50 to decide who they want to help. (bought a Kenyan family a pig and some chickens last month and they kept expecting them to come in the mail)
Activities - Some of these cost. Some of them don't. We love anything creative, so some of our best times are just sitting together drawing, writing, or reading.
We take moments to talk and moments to be quiet. We sometimes watch shows and sometimes go on adventures. We try to keep it fun, restful, and connected.
There is only a short time before our kids won't be available for Intentionalism Sunday so we soak up whatever we can and know that we're creating memories that we'll always cherish.
We're still testing and exploring ideas, but are starting to see some shifts in our household.
I'll warn you though. As great as the implementation into our everyday life has been. It wasn't enough for us.
What we were really after required a new level of intention and one that came with greater cost.
We decided that if we were serious about creating the life we craved inside that upping our game wasn't a question of if, but of when.
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