I got a kick out of hearing Hoda and Maria Shriver talk about family mission statements in their morning chat. I did this years ago when my children were much younger! Let’s face it, families are no longer content to simply love and annoy one another, they are wondering: Where are we going as a family? How can we achieve more as a family? How can we work together, as a family, to get the dog to stop puking in the car?
Life is so hectic; a mission statement can be a great way to bring in some purpose. I was attracted to the idea because, honestly, we were at a breaking point. It’s not just that we were busy, it’s not just that we were exhausted, it’s that going downstairs to pull your tee shirt out of the dryer had become the normal way to get dressed. It’s realizing you forgot to pack a snack but feeling grateful there are enough loose Cheezits in the car seat to keep your son happy during Little League. It’s keeping Tic Tacs in your purse since you might forget to brush your teeth. We needed focus.
Our mission statement was fun and easy; here’s how we did it. I read some free information on the internet and then followed these simple steps.
First, I contemplated my own mission in my own life. After deep thought and two doughnuts I determined mine to be, “Keep my children alive and healthy until they can go off on their own and I can finally read a book.”
Then you are supposed to define your family. I wandered around the house for an hour and decided we are “a tightly knit group of loud people who don’t know how to put anything away.”
Now I was ready. I called a family meeting. Everyone groaned in horror. Well, my husband pretended not to but I could see he was. My youngest asked: Could we at least bring swords to the family meeting?
No, we could not.
We sat around the dining room table and I explained the mission statement with cheer. “We’ll be happier; we’ll get more done!”
“I have enough to do,” moaned my third grader.
I laid out the focus questions: What issues do we need to address? How will we address them? What values will we use to guide us? After a stunned silence during which no one knew what to say, I suggested that we just say some things we would like to change or improve about our family. My youngest said he would like to never make his bed again. My oldest said he prefers body wash to regular soap. My husband suggested we try to get the kids in bed earlier, say, 6:30 p.m., and that we have a larger lingerie budget.
I tried to be respectful during all of this, because respect is part of the mission process, but when the three of them agreed that playing video games in your underwear counts as exercise, I put the hammer down. Finally, after three bowls of microwave popcorn, we came up with this:
“Being that we are a family who loves each other, we will try to show our love by not doing the high-pitched squeal when Daddy is driving, by not scaring each other by pretending to choke, by considering Fruit Gushers to be a viable lunchtime side dish and not a dessert, and by working together to save money so that we can afford a cleaning lady, a snow blower and a trip to Disney World.”
Mission statement accomplished.