It's no secret to anyone that the end of summer vacation usually results in a frazzled, short tempered, and ready-for-routine ME. It almost always takes me a few weeks of feeling crazy before I have to remind myself that feeling this way around this time of year is usually the way it goes. Then add in a huge life change and a move across the country and these feelings are magnified, by um, a lot. It can make for one bag of feeling guilty for all the things I'm not doing, critical of myself and my kids, and a web of negative thinking. One of the things that has always worked to help me reset and get back to focusing on what really matters and what I want most in life is to slow down with reflection.
Just the simple act of stopping myself in my tracks, taking a deep breath, clearing my head and listing the things I AM doing well allows me to then focus on the small steps I can take to move forward and improve. This is especially true when I'm feeling out of control or especially critical of myself and my family. Bad moods and negative energy are contagious--a domino effect--and if I don't put the breaks on and RESET, the whole family picks up on my energy.
Last night was our first night back from a long weekend away in Portland for Hood to Coast. We were also making time for final good byes to my husband's work friends in Portland, saying hello to old neighbors and school friends, and visiting with family. As much as I loved our weekend away, it was incredibly nice to be HOME!
Before bedtime, I called all the kids into my son's room for a last minute family meeting. I have been meaning to implement this family meeting routine at least once a week but so far it has remained on my parenting wish list. Last night was the night. Forget planning or knowing what the meeting would be about. I just needed to do it. Once we were all sitting around Sam's bed, I knew we all needed a RESET. It wasn't just me being grouchy and short tempered. The kids had been fighting and having attitudes. There was constant complaining and whining about having to do chores. We were all just tired from our move and unraveling in a sea of BLAH and lack of direction and focus.
I remembered the cards I had placed on the wall a few days ago:
I grabbed two legos from Sam's lego bin and asked the family to take turns holding the legos and contributing to the conversation. With the blue lego, I asked them to list something they were doing well and that they were proud of. Then with the yellow lego, I asked them to list something they wanted to bet better at.
At first the kids came up with some funny things like:
Positives: I'm good at being a Ninja.
Something I want to be better at: My pull over on the ninja bars!
After a little bit of modeling and redirecting, all of us came up with things that related to our behavior and interaction with the family. In the end, I think we all felt a new sense of focus and calm. At least I did. And I'm pretty sure they did too because today has been GREAT! I could tell that all of us were conscious of our intentions and working on treating each other with love and respect.
I'm determined to have a family meeting at least once a week! And for the first few meetings, I think this Lego Positives and Small Steps Forward exercise will be a great exercise. Eventually we will add other things like compliments, sharing fears, highlights of our days, etc. No matter what we do, I know this time together will be nothing but valuable in helping us grow as a family and as individuals.
Here's to more family meetings!
Have you tried family meetings?
Do you set a time aside for the whole family to be together? Dinner? Family Movie Nights?