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How to Make Sharing and Setting Goals a Fun Family Activity and Why It Is So Important!

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"Children are our most valuable resource" - Herbert Hoover

In moving towards a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle, we often just focus on our own life questions, challenges and goals. Just like we also very often do that, just by ourselves. But like Herbert Hoover once said: "Children are our most valuable resource" and discussing our life questions, challenges and goals with our children, is therefore not only fun, it also gives a great opportunity to connect with them, to strengthen your children and the family ties, and last but not least: it will definitely lead to some interesting new insights!

Recently, The New York Times published an interesting article about the importance of sharing the family narrative. The article pointed out that the key to a happier family was "to create, refine and retell the story of your family's positive moments and your ability to bounce back from the difficult ones".

Besides this positive effect on the family, they also found that "the 'Do You Know' (about your family, red.) scale, turned out to be the best single predictor of children's emotional health and happiness" and that their is a huge value in "creating a family mission statement."

Sharing and setting goals with your family is thus very important, but because we often feel a barrier to do so, I have written a guide on how to make it a Fun Family Activity!

How To Make Sharing and Setting Goals a Fun Family Activity

1. Have your children pick one day a week that will be your "Sharing Goals and Stories day" (you can also ask your kids to come up with a name, they will love it!).

It's good to explain to them, that during this very special day, you will create a moment to sit together during which each family member can share a great story and that all the others will listen (to them!).

2. Get coloring pencils and paper and make a schedule indicating the next four weeks. Then decide together what you would like to be the topic for each of these four weeks and write them down in the schedule. Make sure you also leave room for each family member to share "A Word of The Week."

Possible topics:
- What are the things that are most important to our family? (Family Mission Statement)
- Share a story about a situation in which we learned something.
- Share a story about a happy moment.
- Share a story about a sad moment and what you did to 'bounce back' from that?
- Share a story about your biggest wish.
- Share a story about your first memory.
- Share a story about your favorite activity (and why that is your favorite activity).
- Share a story about a scary moment.
- What are your goals?
- What can we as a family do to make this world a better place?
- What can we as a family do to help the people around us?
- Do we know people around us that need help? And what can we do?
- What can we do to take better care of our planet?
- What can we do to live healthier?

To have a good basis to build on, I recommend to start with the creation of a "Family Mission Statement."

3. Put the schedule in a place where everyone will see it on a daily basis.

The fridge or breakfast/dining table are good options.

4. Before the start of your "Sharing Goals and Stories day," explain again that this is a very special moment and that each of you will get a chance to share a story about, or give an answer on, the topic of that day. It's also good to emphasize that all the others will listen and that no interruptions are allowed.

Make it extra fun (and stay in control!) by using a timer. You can simply use the "timer" function on your smartphone which will have an alarm to indicate that time is up. I recommend to give everyone maximum five minutes when you are sharing stories and maximum 1.5 minutes when you are anwering "questions."

5. Be a rolemodel!

This means: not too serious (allow for good laughs and jokes), be open within the common sense boundaries (dare to share), listen (don't interrupt), acknowledge and respect (say thank you and "well done").

6. End each session by giving the children, and yourself, the opportunity to write down a Word Of The Week in the schedule.

A Word of The Week is a word that you remembered most from all the stories and anwers.

Happy sharing everyone!