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It sounds cliche to say it but have you ever taken a moment to ponder if your core values are aligned with your real life?

A few weeks ago I had the bounty of facilitating A Taste of Simplicity Parenting – the introductory session to the full course. Over a dozen families were present and we had the unique opportunity to think about our core values and how those values and if those values, are showing up in our family lives.

We know that what you focus on grows.

What often occurs in these dynamic sessions happened once again.  The group, myself included, discovers that we are paying attention to some wonderful things and these things are “growing” because we are consistent or invested in those particular values while a significant number of other things have been left by the wayside, neglected, or our focus has become distracted by things that we recognize as not part of our core value list.

Here’s a list of our core values that we are excited to see “growing” in our own family cultures…

  • Consistent family meals
  • Daily downtime in the evenings around bedtime to read, pray, or talk about the day
  • Scheduled family time to watch a show together, spend time in nature, or go to something weekly like the library or farmer’s market
  • Playing music together
  • Celebrating meaningful holidays

We also looked at the list of things our kids might say we value because we are paying attention to these things or we are emphasizing them when really they aren’t part of what we ultimately value and we want to work on taking the spotlight off of these things…

  • Screen time – the kids are seeing us on our computers, phones, and watching TV more often than we would like
  • Work – our kids sometimes see that we put work above all else way too much
  • Too much sitting around and not enough healthy exercise or time outdoors
  • Doing everything in a hurry – we seem to be rushing through our days
  • Yelling and/or getting easily overwhelmed and frustrated

I love that this unusual parenting workshop provides us with a snapshot of our strengths as well as our areas where we can work to improve upon using a powerful change process introduced to the group. There’s a lot of support in the room as we walk through a current challenge of a parent who has volunteered.

The first step is to imagine what it would be like if this dissatisfaction were changed.  For example, if I wanted to change from things feeling hurried, especially in the morning, I would imagine a more relaxing, paced routine. Rather than feeling rushed, I would have enough time. I could help the children get things packed up and out the door. I wouldn’t need to resort to frustration and feeling overwhelmed and I would communicate calmly.

The next step is to design the plan to achieve what I have imagined.  Assessing the situation, I am currently giving myself 90 minutes to get myself ready, make breakfasts, and make the lunches.  I can have the kids pack the nonperishable parts of their lunch the night before and put the oatmeal in the crockpot to be ready by morning.

I decide to start that night to prepare for the next day. If I am consistent for at least a week, I will celebrate with the kids with a Saturday waffle breakfast!

Although simplified for you to get the idea, it can be very therapeutic to walk through a change process around something really nagging at you to tweak or adjust.  I think it allows you to be creative, especially having the opportunity to imagine the change and what it would be like if things were different.  Imagining a different reality is so powerful.

Despite there being a list of things that need tweaking, I also truly appreciate that list of strengths and what each of as parents is already doing to “grow” and emphasize values that make up a healthy and loving family culture.

If you are interested in attending a Taste of Simplicity Parenting and you live in the Triangle area, I hope you will join us next Tuesday, October 21, 2014, 7-9pm at the Emerson Waldorf School. If you aren’t local, contact me for a phone consult.