And then it was his

“Mom, you should probably get up. It’s after 8. Lia’s playing Legos in the living room and I just woke up. Ava’s still asleep,” Max said to me. I was certain that Josh was up making breakfast. Or that maybe it was actually Saturday.

And then I realized, “oh crap! It’s Wednesday!” Every Wednesday morning, Josh leaves early in the morning to meet with his friends. And every Wednesday, I oversleep. (Note to self: setting an alarm might be a good idea.)

I usually wake up around 7:30 am, which leaves me plenty of time to get the kids out the door by 8:30 am. But we can just blame daylight savings this time around.

You might remember that we started a new habit back in August… no cereal on school days. We’ve done really well at making the kids a healthy, hot breakfast five days a week, but it just wasn’t going to happen that morning. I managed to throw together three healthy lunches, but breakfast…

Well, the kids had cereal.

And Max said to me, “Mom, I just wish it wasn’t P.E. day. There’s no way I’m going to have energy for P.E. after eating cereal for breakfast.” It was 8:25 am at that point, so I sliced him an apple and hoped that would help.

And in that moment, I had an incredible realization… eating healthy is no longer MY value that I’m trying to teach him. It’s his value now. And that’s what this parenting thing is all about, right?! That’s why we’re so thrilled about the idea of intentional living and how it relates to parenting.

Intentional living is defining your values and then living with purpose and integrity within those values. Intentional parenting means bringing your kids into the mix.

I know it sounds fancy and maybe even a little difficult, but its actually pretty simple. Just follow these steps:

  1. define your family values
  2. for each value, talk to your kids about WHY this is important to you
  3. teach them how to live within the value
  4. use buzzwords and other terminology consistently until it becomes engrained in your family culture
  5. adopt tools and resources to help you live within your value

So how does that translate to real life? Here’s an example…

  1. So, one of our family values is ‘being healthy’.
  2. We talk to our kids about how living a healthy lifestyle helps you live longer and be able to enjoy more of your life. We also have a lot more flexibility with travel and adventure and even everyday life when we are healthy.
  3. When we set out on a journey to eat healthier, we first educated ourselves about what it means to eat healthy. And then we started teaching our kids. We taught them how to read nutrition facts and ingredient lists. We taught them what ingredients were not acceptable in our food. We taught them about how companies use familiar characters to market unhealthy foods to kids and why “no added sugar” is usually bad a thing. And all at the same time, we taught them why it’s okay to be flexible about eating healthy and that treats are treats and that’s okay… in moderation.
  4. Some of the buzzwords we use in our house include “healthy”, “not healthy”, “real food”, “fake food”, “healthy snack”, and “treat”.
  5. We are constantly reading up about healthy eating on blogs and in books and sharing this information with our kids. We also got an iPhone app called Fooducate that helps us make decisions about food purchases.

I wholeheartedly believe in intentional living. We all have values and beliefs that we live by, but when we take it one step further and really put forth great effort to live within our values, our lives improve so much! We’d love to hear your stories of intentional living and how you’re teaching this to your kids! Please leave us a comment below.

teaching family values

Jenny (290 Posts)

Jenny Solar is the co-founder of The Happy Family Movement and Phone Monsters, Inc. She's a wife to Josh and mama to three kiddos: Max, Ava, and Lia. She's passionate about creating memorable experiences for her family and inspiring others to do the same.