If you’re anything like me it’s easy to get wrapped up in the day to day of the home, subduing the mess and doing the necessary things and losing sight of the bigger meaning of our home and the importance of creating an intentional family culture. For many years I never took any time to think about what our family culture or atmosphere was, or what I wanted it to be. There are so many wonderful things which have happened organically over the years, and things we have taken some time to act on intentionally- and seeing those shape our family now- 5 years into parenting- is so fun. But sometimes it takes a bit of intentionality and a simple reminder here and there of what we are chasing after in the day to day to avoid frustration amongst the chaos of children at home.
Intentionally approaching motherhood, and cultivating a family culture that’s unique to us and our skills, values and family members requires effort. Without a clear of what our hopes are for ourselves, our homes and our families we can drift and feel aimless, but it can feel overwhelming to try and make a plan for something that will work for our families.
Here are some things to think about which can help when it comes internationally creating or defining your family culture.
Remember who you are and where you’re coming from
A lot of our expectations or hopes for our homes, families and children are affected by our own childhoods- whether positively or negatively- as our own experiences shape us and as we look back on our memories of growing up. We come into motherhood with expectations which we have to adapt, adjust and work towards- when we know that they are hopes which are realistic and personal for our own families.
Each of us as mothers have different backgrounds, experiences, family memories and also skills, values and roles. Amidst our roles as mothers, teachers, cleaners, wives- we have a myriad of other things which feed into and create us to be the people we are. We are also daughters, sisters, friends- creative, funny, energetic, joyful. We have memories of climbing trees, eating favourite meals, visiting parks and museums and laughter in our homes.
When you think about your skills and attributes- are there any you want to work towards making more a part of your daily life, to implement intentionally into your family culture? Which elements of your childhood do you want to repeat, and are there any that you want to change? I know I can hold onto this idealised vision of what I wanted motherhood to be like when I was a child- children running barefoot around a spacious house, with miraculously clean floors and a smell of whatever is baking filling the air. I as a mother am calm and loving and engaged- and everything stays tidy and no one ever argues. I know that is not entirely realistic now- it wasn’t easy breezy when my first was born- motherhood is a steep learning curve and I’ve had to adjust my ideals. However there are elements of that vision which are helpful- mostly the ways in which I would like to act and interact with others. Whilst I have work to do and messes to sort – I can choose to be frustrated by them and have them affect my relationships or I can be joyful in the way I approach things- even if life isn’t one long sunlit baking session.
And whilst we may want to replicate our childhood for our children, or avoid every thing that we felt was unhelpful or sad for us as children- we have to keep in mind that our children are as unique and different as we are, and have a flexible mindset given that life has changed, and you definitely live in a different time now than you did then- and probably a different place too. Some of the challenges of raising children do change over time, and being aware of them can help us to tackle them consciously as they arise.
What do you want your home and being part of your family to feel like?
Find a space or journal page to jot, draw or stick things which remind you of the vision you have for your family culture. What things do you love about the culture you have already created? Which moments and things bring you all joy, and which simple rhythms add a unique element to your family life? Do you play lots of games? Have a particular meal one day or a simple weekend routine you all enjoy? Make sure that you focus on things which suit you and your family, and avoid wanting someone else’s good!
Pictures or words that resonate deeply with you are better than things which might be great for someone else, or things which are of the moment. What do you deeply crave for your family? How do you want your children to remember their childhood and associate with it as adults? I like to put all of these things on the ‘home vision’ page in The Mama Book, and then I can come back and reference it later as I need to.
Your other half is a complex and individual person who also plays a big part in your home and their values and hopes are worth discussing together when it comes to these things. Sitting down and discussing with your journal or vision board might work, or you can simply ask questions and open up conversations with them to find out where their hearts lie on these subjects.
Are there any tangible steps, habits or projects you to start in order to cultivate the culture in your home that is right for you and your family?
What baby steps can you put in place? Are there habits which you can implement that could affect the culture of your family, or your own health and wellbeing as you focus on being intentional with your time and life with your children?
Breaking down big ideals and projects onto smaller focuses and action items makes them much more manageable – and progress will keep you motivated and make you notice the things you are doing as a family. It can be so lovely to look at big hopes and goals but then discouraging if you think too hard about what a big change might need to happen to get from A to B. Break it down and think about what matters most in this season, what small things you can implement to make things easier in later years and prioritise just a few things at a time.
Choosing some focuses for the next month or two in different areas can keep your mind from getting too bogged down in everyday life and remind you of your bigger picture. Perhaps just choose one small habit or area to work on for a few weeks and then add on another once you have seen progress to avoid getting overwhelmed.
Most of all- your family’s culture will be completely different and beautiful from anyone else’s. Don’t overwhelm yourself with unrealistic expectations and pressures- but when you are aiming at good hopes which you know will last, don’t get discouraged, but keep taking small steps. Small things like reading one book at bedtime add up- whilst babies don’t notice if you do or don’t read one so much, if you get into the habit early you set up a childhood of bonding over books in those quiet moments. Building in baby steps of everyone helping together to put plates in the dishwasher will nudge your closer to being a family who shares the load and values the contribution of each member. Whatever the area is you want to work on, recognise all the good that you are already doing, all the great habits and celebrations that you have in place. Enjoy those things which make your family your family, and relish those things that make your family culture unique.