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In this episode, my friend Sara Kuljis and I are back together talking about uncluttering our schedules and our homes. Sara and her husband Steve Kuljis are the owners and directors of Yosemite Sierra Summer Camp and Emerald Cove Day Camp. Sara is also a certified Gallup Strengths Coach. Sara and I have been friends for two decades, and she has been a regular guest on the podcast talking in past episodes about strengths, sibling conflicts & relationships, gratitude, how to compliment our kids, grit, and more. Together we also do a live parenting workshop.
Uncluttering our Schedules
Look back at past events that family members enjoyed and identify what was special about those experiences to help you determine what your family values.
Talk about people or families you admire and why you admire them. Use their example to inspire your family’s values or actions.
Look at your calendar of activities to see which ones support your values. Note where the gaps of downtime are so that you can make time for activities that move your values forward.
Consider using the values worksheet to assess what you value most individually or as a family. If your kids are younger, select one or two to focus on for a season or year.
Family Values Worksheet
Subscribe to my weekly emails, and I'll send you the Family Values Worksheet.
Some questions to consider:
What are our family values?
What are the things we hope our family is known for? Try to identify two 0r three characteristics or values you’d like to be hallmarks of your family.
What are qualities we want to develop?
If you want to do a deeper dive into your family values, consider downloading Sara’s Family Pace & Space worksheet (also available in the resource section of Happy Campers).
Family Pace & Space
Subscribe to my weekly emails, and I'll send you Sara's Family Pace & Space Questionnaire.
Consider coming up with a short family motto or song that represents something that’s important to you. One of Audrey’s favorites that she put on a poster photo of her kids was from Lee Brice’s song Love Like Crazy:
Go to work, do your best, don’t outsmart your common sense
Never let your prayin’ knees get lazy
And love like crazy
Uncluttering our Homes
Involve the whole family in a decluttering project!
Decide together where to donate any used items in good condition. Keep the time short and model how to give things away and clean out your spaces. Consider using something like Amazon’s givebackbox to make it easy to donate.
Audrey: “Life is so busy and chaotic and so we have to be really intentional about making it not that way.”
Audrey: “Spring is a time when it is starting to get warmer, flowers are blooming outside and it always feels kind of like a fresh start. We can think of this as our psychological spring cleaning.”
Sara: “When our schedules are so packed and our children are racing from one thing to the next, it is really hard–perhaps even impossible–to be the parent we want to be, the spouse we want to be, the family we want to be. That’s because we love others slowly, not quickly. We serve each other slowly, not quickly. We empathize slowly, not quickly. Some of the best things in life have to be slowed down enough to do well.”
Sara: “At summer camp, we have kids show up and they’re just exhausted. They’ve had no downtime, no unorganized playtime, no just hanging out with mom and dad time. They are as exhausted as I am after a heavy-duty month of work and that is not our best space in which to grow and learn and thrive.”
Sara: “What are our family values? What are the things our family stands on? What do we hope our family is known for? What are the qualities that we honestly want our kids to be learning? There are a number of amazing values that we can build into our family culture if we do it intentionally and involve everybody. Identify two or three values that are going to be the hallmarks of your family.”
Audrey: “Businesses have taglines or vision statements. It’s kind of fun to think about what your family’s motto could be.”
Sara: “It’s helpful to look at the calendar of a given week or month together and look at the balance of activities. Mark the ones that match your values. It’s scary to realize that only one thing our family did actually supported that value. All the rest were very busy and demanding things, but they didn’t actually help move our family along in that value. That indicates our activities are not reflecting our values.”
Sara: “Sometimes we, as parents, in our anxiousness for our kids to be successful adults, add activities to our kids’ schedule like extra tutors, extra club sports, and very academic, achievement-focused activities and we’re overlooking those activities that actually build character and the human being parts of them that are the real things that create future success, healthy relationships, strong communities, sense of identity and self-confidence.”
Audrey: “I always thought the service/volunteering things we do need to be grand gestures, but a lot of times what our kids will remember might be more of the simple gestures.”
Sara: “Most things aren’t grand. Most of life is every day. So how do we make these things an everyday moment?”
Sara: “I would urge us not to add anything to our schedule unless we cut something out. That’s just more stress, more anxiety, more feeling overwhelmed.”
Sara: “Decluttering is skill we can teach our children. It’s way more fun to declutter together than all by yourself. Consider spending even only an hour and inviting your kids to help choose something to declutter.”
Audrey: “If we just take 30 minutes and each person picks what thing they are going to organize and together come up with one bag to donate or declutter the house, it would really move the needle and make your home feel less cluttered.”
Audrey: “I’m a believer that outer order leads to inner calm and so I think this is a great practice.”