How to Make Your Family Work Together as a Team
Your family is a team. Just like your workforce is a team or the athletes on a team are a TEAM. And the same strategies that work for other teams outside your home can also be applied to your family.
I recently listened to a webinar that outlined 5 steps that should guide any team. Here’s how they can apply to your family. Work with these steps and I truly believe that you will see your family start to slowly come together, connecting in ways you’ve never been able to before.
Step 1: Mission Statement/Core Values
Every family has values of some kind even if you’ve never thought about them or clarified them. You are all living by some kind of values. To give your children a compass that will guide them when you are not around, do the work to establish core values in your home.
Here’s a simple plan for doing that:
• Make a list of 5-10 words that describe what is most important to you and your family. For instance, our family’s words would be family, faith, communication, compassion, and honesty.
• Then expand each of those words into a purpose statement. For instance, if your word is communication, you might say something like this: “We will work on clear and consistent communication with each other.” Or if your word is “faith,” you might say, “We will seek to grow our relationship with God.”
Once you’ve established those values–and I’d suggest you include the whole family in this process–write them down, post them on the fridge, make a decorative sign and post them on the wall, and look for opportunities to bring them into conversations with your kids. Don’t just establish them and then forget about them. Weave them into the fabric of your family dynamic.
Step 2: Plan of Action and Milestones
Goal setting is a valuable habit for your kids to learn. It can be applied to many areas of life: sports, money, projects, academics, college–the list can go on and on. Here is a list of goal setting areas for the family. These examples may spark your own ideas:
• Working out together as a family
• Saving money for a shared purpose
• Improve eating habits
• Family chores
• Dinner screen time restrictions
• Trying new things as a family
Once you’ve set a few goals, take the time at a family meeting to plan out how you will achieve those goals and then check up on them periodically, either weekly or monthly, whichever works for your family.
Step 3: Budget
Although you don’t want your children to worry and stress about money, it’s important that they understand the meaning of good stewardship. Teach them the value of budgeting by talking about your own spending budgets, and by helping them establish their own budget, so they can save for things they want.
Telling your kids “we can’t afford that” may not suffice as an answer to their requests, but saying, “We have a budget for sports training and this is what you can spend” or “We have a budget for sports equipment and we’ve already reached the limit for this season” will help them begin to learn just what budgeting is all about. With a budget, you can also say, “We have a budget for sports camps and so you can pick one this summer.”
Step 4: Routines
Routines are how families get organized when it comes to getting things done and spending time together. The trick to establishing routines in a family is understanding the balance between structure and spontaneity. Routines are good, as long as they don’t become more important than the people they were made for, and as long as you know that there are a time and a place to break the routine.
For example, your family might have routines for:
• Work and school mornings
• Weekly or daily chores
• Game day preparation
Maintaining normal daily routines makes it easier for kids to handle stressful events, like moving, divorce, or a death in the family. Although some children need routine more than others, routines are generally good for kids; benefits include kids feeling a sense of safety and belonging and kids taking on responsibility and good habits.
Step 5: Celebrate Wins
When our kids were growing up, we used to share highs and lows at the dinner table. Sometimes I still make them do it when we manage to reunite! (They are now 33, 30 and 27).
But celebrating wins as a family goes beyond the individual, it expands to actual family wins, like finishing 9 weeks of at-home schooling during Covid-19 or completing a family project, or achieving a family workout goal.
I love how my daughter’s kindergarten class gets to celebrate when their whole class achieves a goal. She loves to party with them when they reach their reading or math goals. Those celebrations are not only fun for kids and teachers, they are a reminder that they’ve worked hard and achieved success.
Personally, I think we should be doing a lot more celebrating than we are. Celebrating good stuff enhances the probability that there will be more things to celebrate!
Take a moment to think about your family team. How does your team function? How can you improve? How is your team leadership? The skills learned in the family team setting will help to lead your children to succeed in the other teams they will encounter in life.