If you ask my teenage children who’s the boss of our family, they’ll tell you it’s me – Mama of course!
Not because my husband doesn’t do boss-y things like delegate or supervise, but because I’m the one who is across our family activities and because I run our family like a business!
Plus, this girl knows how to execute!
But before you start thinking, there’s no way I could cripple my family into a business structure and cramp our family vibe, let me tell you that working in this way, has surprisingly had the opposite effect on my family.
By applying simple business processes in our family environment, we have successfully tamed teenage beasts (well, most days!), experienced the freedom to be spontaneous, and have even enjoyed regular overseas family vacations.
I’ve put together a list of 8 ways I run my family like a business and how you can too.
HERE ARE THE 8 WAYS TO RUN YOUR FAMILY LIKE A BUSINESS:
// 1. Develop a family mission statement
According to the author of the book The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective Families, Stephen Covey, developing a family mission statement is an essential step to strengthen family bonds. A family mission statement outlines a vision of where you want your family to go together and how you’re going to get there. Having a unified vision – a shared sense of values and purpose – brings parents and children together.
It’s best to hold a meeting especially for creating your mission statement where ideas from all family members can be shared. Start by listing your family values, and asking each member what they want for themselves as an individual and what their dreams for the family are. Here’s some questions and some examples of family mission statements to get you started.
Bonus points if you display your vision statement somewhere in a shared location. It could be in the form of an affirmation that you access on your phones. Or, it could be printed and kept on the wall or fridge as a visual reminder of your goals and your commitment to each other. Remember, your family needs and values will change with time so it’s a good idea to review and revisit your statement as your family evolves.
// 2. Set family goals
Once you’ve established your family mission statement, it’s a good idea to set some goals that will help you live out your mission. The second habit of successful families, according to Stephen Covey is to ‘Begin with the end in mind’. It may be a practical goal, such as eating more veggies, divvying up household chores to share the workload or being more physically active together.
Or, it could be an ‘experience’ goal, such as spending more time together as a family by having a movie marathon, game night, a My Kitchen Rules cook-off (MKR is a reality cooking competition show in Australia), or even saving up to go away for a special family vacation. Last year, we travelled as a family both inside Australia for some short stays and also abroad to Bali and the US. I always plan our annual family Christmas vacation almost twelve months in advance so I know we get the best location for the best price. If you’re worried that taking a vacation is going to be stressful, here are four simple steps to a stress-free family holiday. Also, here’s my best tips for staying organized and keeping your holiday vibe while you’re on vacation. If a vacation is not on the cards yet, consider planning an alternative or interesting local activity together like a self-defence class or do some volunteering together!
Studies show that writing goals down significantly increases your chances of achieving them. You can use the Life Sorted app to record your family goals or go old-school and add post it notes to a master paper list on the fridge as they come to mind. Modelling the essential life skill of goal setting as a family will help your children to learn how to set goals of their own and take more responsibility for their future.
// 3. Delegate tasks
As a mum, you’re mighty but you’re not expected to do it all on your own. Delegating tasks is one of the best ways to encourage ownership and independence in your children and yes sometimes, in your partner as well!. If you think it’s too early to delegate or you find it hard to trust others with important tasks, you might want to check out the benefits of chores for children. One of the main reasons I created the Life Sorted app is because I felt like I was the keeper of all knowledge when it came to family activities. This meant I was also the only one shouldering the responsibility, and I was done ‘being in charge’ of everything.
Using the Life Sorted app allows each family member to take charge of their own schedule and tasks, so you can be more present with each other in the moment. You can easily add team members..ahem..family members to an event you set up, or delegate responsibilities to them in the notes of an event. You can choose to INVITE them to an event or task or simply click FYI to keep them in the loop.
// 4. Introduce systems!
I bloody love systems! I have a plan and a place for everything. Systems help me to get sh*t done like get organised for back to school, declutter my home (and brain!) the Kon Mari way and reset my school term grind. One framework I love using in my business and my family life is the 4 D Framework, which I developed to help combat brain-clutter. As each new project, appointment or event enters you ‘brain inbox’, file it immediately by choosing ONE of these four options:
- Do it
- Delegate it
- Defer it
- Ditch it
My husband and teenage children use this system as well and it’s surprising how quickly it has become a common language and formed a part of our family culture.
// 5. Respect shared spaces
How many times have you been in a common kitchen in a workplace only to discover allegedly ‘clean’ utensils sporting smudges and flecks of yesterday’s lunch? So frustrating, right! Chores are important for children and encouraging every family member to play their part in keeping our home looking and feeling good is part of the reason why we function so well as a busy family of four. Our home is a safe space where we can both relax and work. My teenage children do their homework in the study or the living room and I also run Life Sorted from my home office. Using the Life Sorted app helps us keep abreast of each other’s changing work and play schedules so that we can be respectful of each other when using common spaces in our home.
// 6. Communicate
Have you ever been in a job where management just doesn’t listen to you as an employee? As a result, you don’t feel valued and you begin to feel resentful. Same goes for the communication lines within a family setting. Communicating clearly and regularly with your children and giving them an opportunity to be heard is essential, especially if you’re going to achieve those goals you mapped out in step 2. In fact, Habit 5 in The 7 Habits of Successful Families is to ‘Seek first to understand, then to be understood’. ‘When you and your family creatively work together, that is synergy’ according to the author, Stephen Cavey.
Your synergy family action plan may look like this:
- Define – clarify the problem or issue
- Their way – Seek first to understand the other person’s needs
- My way – Seek to be understood; share your needs and ideas
- Brainstorm – Create new options and ideas together
- Synergize – Find the best solution – the Third Alternative.
Life can be hectic but using a shared family calendar app such as Life Sorted has literally been a communication lifesaver for our family. We all know where every family member is at any time, which means we don’t need to stress or message everyone individually when plans change. We simply update each other by making changes to the event and the app notifies each of us of the changes. We also print a copy of the Life Sorted schedule from desktop version at the beginning of every week and pop it on the fridge so we can be device-free at home most mornings.
Another way to improve communication in your family is to make time to understand each other’s love languages. According to award-winning author, Dr Gary Chapman, there are five love languages which govern how we express and experience love. The five love languages are Gift Giving, Quality Time, Physical Touch, Acts of Service (Devotion), and Words of Affirmation. We all “speak” one of them most fluently in each of our relationships and when we know how to speak each other’s love language, communicating becomes a whole lot easier!
// 7. Celebrate wins
Celebrating individual and family wins is a chance to develop family traditions and make memories together. When I achieve a new milestone in my business like when I appeared on Today Extra recently, my family were the first to celebrate with me. Likewise, when the kids reach their personal sporting or academic goals we always make time to do something special together like order in an Uber Eats treat at home or have a night out at the movies.
// 8. Hold family meetings: reflect and review
Holding weekly family meetings is the best way to reflect on how far you have come as a family and iron out any problems that may arise as to continue to build strong relationships. Family meetings don’t have to be a formal thing. We have our family meeting every Sunday before or after dinner and it’s a great chance to catch up, fill each other in and have a few laughs. We circulate an agenda as a checklist in the Life Sorted app, which gives us all an opportunity to drop items to discuss leading up to the meeting. We usually discuss things like committing to chores, deadlines for tasks, upcoming events and finances. Any decisions or agreements we make are added straight into the Life Sorted app, such as my teenage son adding his work shifts in for the term and my daughter adding when her work shifts and assignments are due. This means we’re able to be more mindful of each other’s needs, particularly in busy or stressful periods. Being able to access information anytime in a shared family organiser app also means there’s a lot less nagging, which is better for everyone!
Just as no two businesses are the same – your family is unique. You and your children will come up against different obstacles over the years. Running your family like a business will help you to achieve your family goals, strengthen relationships and make many happy memories tougher. What’s your favourite way to run your family like a business? What tip are you most excited about trying? Let us know in the comments below.