I don't know about other parents reading this, but I always look forward to the start of a new month. It's an opportunity for a check-in, both with myself and my family. It's a time to reflect on our thoughts and actions and approach the upcoming weeks with renewed focus and a fresh start. With minimal effort, it's a chance to approach the next 31 days mindfully, with clear intentions.
I've discussed the concept of intentions before, emphasizing how each one can empower personal growth in mindset and strengthen family bonds.
But what does that really mean? How does it work? Why should you do it? And how much time does it take? Let me gladly explain!
First, an intention is simply a mental state, a goal I set my sights on. Typically, it's an action or a feeling I'm striving to express.
Why do I love setting them monthly? Well, as a busy parent juggling various responsibilities, I often find myself relieved to see the end of each month. Between carpooling, meal preparations, extracurricular activities, and the daily hustle, I'm eager to embrace the new month. Sometimes it's because I've been dwelling on the past, and other times it's because I'm excitedly looking forward to the future. Regardless, intention setting enables me to pinpoint where I want to direct my focus for the upcoming month.
These intentions can encompass anything—from sticking to my yoga routine and spending more quality time with family to pushing my boundaries in my professional life or scheduling moments with friends. It's important to remind ourselves of where we stand each month and meet ourselves there.
But what I particularly enjoy is modeling intention setting for my children. Why? Well, as parents, we understand how easy it can be to veer off course and engage in actions that don't align with our true selves. From skipping a class to making a misstep at a social gathering or unintentionally saying the wrong thing, it's all too easy to lose sight of who we want to be when we aren't mindful of our actions.
Introducing intention setting to kids can be incredibly valuable. It helps them develop a sense of purpose, focus, and mindfulness. This practice empowers them to make positive choices, set goals, and cultivate good habits. And when we engage in this act of intention setting as a family, it opens the door to genuine conversations, authentic feelings, and the reassurance that we're all in this together — they are not alone in their journey.
Since we just wrote out our October intentions last night, I thought to share some tips on how to set intentions as a family, and support yourself and your child throughout the month.
Keep it simple: Use age-appropriate language and concepts that your child can easily understand. For example, a parent may say “I don’t think we’ve had much time together since school started, so I say that family-hour once a week is something I’d like to be intentional about.”
Be positive: Encourage positive intentions that promote growth and well-being. For example, "I will be kind to siblings" or "I will ask for help while doing my best in math."
Make it specific: Help your child make their intentions specific and actionable. Instead of a vague intention like "I will be good with phone time," suggest something like "I will not use my cell phone after dinner."
Use visual aids: Create visual reminders of their intentions. You can make a colorful poster, use a Bullet Journal tracker, or have sticky notes with their intentions written on them. Place these reminders where your child or family can see them regularly. We use the the fridge as our intention spot.
Encourage reflection: Reflect on intentions regularly. You can have short discussions weekly about how they are doing. No judgement if things aren't on track, this isn't a goal just something they are working to incorporate into their mindset.
Model behaviour: Children often learn by observing their parents or caregivers. Set a positive example by demonstrating the intentions you want them to adopt - talk out loud about how you are working on your intentions, share when you slip up and how you get back on track. That’s the best way to teach self-compassion.
Reward progress: Celebrate your child's successes, no matter how small. Positive reinforcement can motivate them to continue working towards their intentions. Think small rewards in the moment - when you see or hear them working on something they intended too, make a big deal about it right away!
Be patient: It takes time for everyone to internalize intentions and turn them into habits. Be patient and supportive throughout the process.
Keep it in the month: This is meant to be about the time we are in right now, so don't look to past experiences and remember that each month intentions may change. Encourage everyone to adapt their intentions monthly to suit their evolving needs and goals.
Here are some examples of intentions for kids of different age groups:
I will find time to listen to my creativity.
I will work on saying kind words to myself and others.
I will practice good communication with my family and friends.
I will set an affirmation to start the day.
I will spend more time playing games with my brother.
I will make healthy food choices.
I will manage my time effectively to balance school, hobbies, and relaxation.
Remember that intention setting should be a positive and supportive process, helping them develop valuable life skills and a strong sense of self.
Let me know - do you set intentions for yourself or with your family? Do you like the idea of connecting in this way?
Here's to a wicked (ha!) October - and all the best intentions to come :)