Saturday, March 1, 2014

NEW HABITS PROJECT – How I Get My Family on the Same Page, Every Day

THE PROBLEM: Hectic daily life and losing touch with the family (and myself).

As our children get older it seems that time speeds up.  In my house, we were going in many directions and having our own different experiences each and every day.  Different experiences are good. However, I did not like what was happening to my family in the distance and chaos.  I needed to find a way to get everyone grounded and connected. 

My husband, Adam, works odd hours teaching music.  Our daughters are usually in bed when he gets home each night.  I run a start-up business doing it all; teaching and putting together after-school enrichment programming.  I work A LOT and can be distracted at times when I am with my children in the afternoons and evenings.  I found myself just focusing on what had to ‘get done’.

This school year, I also noticed a change in my daughters.  They seemed more distant.  They were more caught up in school drama, minor issues that were causing major anxiety and the homework angst, Oh! The homework angst!  These things were spilling over into the mornings, evenings, weekends, all of the time. Life felt stressful and suffocating.  We were all forgetting the big picture.  We just didn’t have perspective anymore.  I felt like we were speeding down a tunnel in a train without windows.

I wanted to find a way to live in the moment.  Be more aware of my surroundings.  Have a sense of the here and now, and I wanted this for all of us.  Trips and vacations are great and really help create a less distracted and more in-the-now experience, which is why memories are made during them.  But trips are short-lived, not always feasible and get expensive.  Weekends together should also help create meaningful moments and shared experiences but they have become a big mess with chores and work spilling over.  Then it becomes stress to SPEND TIME TOGETHER NOW: GO!  Then only to feel like we have to wait another week before we can do it again.  It wasn’t much fun.  And it wasn’t good enough.

THE PREMISE: Small changes each day (waypoints)

We could not all join a class together or do very much at the same time so, short of some drastic change (like moving to a remote island somewhere, which I strongly considered), I decided to try small changes.  Some type of task or challenge that we could each do each day separately but still share because we were all doing it

I have tried to get my girls to journal a couple of times in the past but it just didn’t stick.  They were too distracted or they were intimidated by the blank page.  Too many options, what if they didn’t get everything down, etc.  It wasn’t happening.  This experiment also satisfied my desire for them to learn how to reflect and write down their thoughts.  Seemed perfect or at least worth a try.  I focused on five areas; mind, body, spirit, social and emotional.

THE EXPERIMENT: Create small actions each day that we could all do, separately but together.

Stori (age 7)
We started on February 4th.  We all had journals that I had gotten before a summer trip and never used.  I gave an assignment (we are now calling them ‘waypoints’) each morning and during the day we all were to complete it, then write it down each night.  

We were going to shoot for every day through March 4th when we would ‘March Forth’ into our more calm happier and connected future. 
(Goofy but the kids loved it.) 

So far, after 25 days of waypoints, I can honestly say it has been gradual and amazing

My family feels connected and communicative.  Couple this project with The Gratitude Project  that we have also been practicing and we are a more calm and happy house.  My heart is warm.  We now have more to talk about than our daily school, work and life responsibilities.  It’s a lot more fun to talk about our waypoint experiences than it is to ask, “What did you learn in school today?” and get the same “I don’t know” (or better yet “nothing”) response. 

Lore (age 9)
Some of the waypoints we share and some we keep to ourselves.  We check in for the few minutes that we have here and there and, instead of talking about what we have to do or what our schedules look like, we have a shared experience that we can talk about.  Some of the waypoints have raised questions and started really great discussions.  

The best 'check in' was one morning before we went off to school.  We shared the waypoint from the night before and it ended in smiles, hugs and genuine love between each one of us.  It was so enriching.  Every time I started to get stressed or have something go wrong, I thought back on that morning and put it all into perspective. 

While putting this together, I have also been reading and researching happiness, healthy relationships, stress reduction, overall fulfillment studies, and so much more.  It is pretty amazing and fascinating stuff and it makes me want to share with everyone I can.  I also have a strange habit of giving myself mental exercises when I am ‘uninspired’ by the task at hand.  I often challenged myself with these mental exercises when I worked in an office to keep my mind sharp and change my thinking to help problem solve.  I used some of these ‘tricks’ as well. 


We will continue these waypoints each day.  It has really worked for my family and I don’t want to keep it to myself.  I want to share this with as many people as I can.

The New Habits Project can be done by individuals or with almost anyone that is trying to stay connected.
    • parents and children (even when parents are traveling)
    • couples
    • grandparents and distant relatives
    • adult children and parents
    • friends 

It’s easy!
    • The small assignments are subtle and simple.  They are designed to give you a waypoint in your day, each day. 
    • Most of the waypoints take two minutes or less. 
    • Ages 6+ can do it! (younger children may need some help)
    • Get your journal or notepad ready and join us!

Here is the Day One Waypoint: “Write down one good thing that happened today.”
And “HINT: Tomorrow you will write down two good things, so start noticing them.”  

(The next day is NOT three good things. Each day will be different after that.)

I hope that it helps others enjoy their family and find some peace and common ground with your loved
ones too.

Here’s How to Join Us:
    1. I will be posting the waypoints here each day from the start date for 21 days.
    2. You can check each morning around 6:00 AM (or sometimes the night before).
    3. Or sign up for email on this page (right side) and they will come directly to your email. 

Ask questions.  Send feedback.  Share!  Let’s include as many people as we can.

Happy New Habits!
Disquisitive Chris

Get updates and waypoints sent to you each day: 
  • Subscribe to our mailing list - Go to 'Subscribe' on the upper right of this page! 
  • Join the community on Facebook.
P.S.  Dis`quis´i`tive: Relating to disquisition; fond of discussion or investigation; examining; inquisitive.

Thanks for reading!

Was this helpful? Think you will try it? Do you already do something like this at your house?
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  1. This looks deceptively simple and I admire your commitment to it and to a rich family life. I can't wait to run it past my family as see what they think.

    1. It is simple! I was delightfully surprised when my children said they missed it and asked to continue. Thank you - I hope you'll join us!