Creating a Family Manifesto
My husband and I decided to create a Kallman Family Manifesto. Actually, I decided and he willingly played along. I’ve been wanting to do this for several years and now that my son is seven years old the time just felt right.
Stephen Covey loves his Family Mission Statement (which I find a bit too serious) and Gretchen Rubin of The Happiness Project has her Commandments (which are of a personal nature). I came across this charming corporate manifesto and was inspired by its playful tone to create our own.
First thing we decided is that we wanted our family manifesto to be partially a reflection of who we currently are as a family and the values that are most important to us right now, with a hint of aspiration thrown in.
Then my husband and I each came up with our own individual lists. Mine had 26 items on it. His had about 20. We picked our favorites from each others’ lists. Some didn’t make the cut. I was sorry to see “prune the roses” go. But Craig really didn’t appreciate it. And, it’s my chore anyway (which I love to do).
The most important step was to think very carefully about how we worded our list and how our selections would be read and interpreted by our son not only now but over the next few years. Here are some examples:
Work Hard actually started out as Work Smart. Even though my husband (particularly him) and I have incredibly strong work ethics, we’re both much bigger fans of the work smart approach. However, we think that is a skill learned over time and at this stage we would prefer our son to learn to work hard.
Do What You Love started out as Love Your Job. But my husband agreed with me that not everyone is fortunate enough to love their job and sometimes you need to accept a job to pay the bills. However, doing what you love isn’t necessarily about one’s job as it is about where you choose to focus your attention, and not limited to one’s career.
Be Creative started out as something having to do with drawing and art, my son’s favorite hobby. We eventually agreed that creativity could be applied to the whole family (my husband and I can’t draw) and I personally liked the double meaning of the sentiment.
At one point I mentioned to Craig that familial love was nowhere to be found on our manifesto and asked whether that troubled him. I wasn’t concerned since it seemed inherent. He agreed and other than pointing it out here we haven’t thought about it since.
The last step of our process was our declaration. What’s a manifesto without making it public, right?
So, I contacted Aardvark on Sea, creators of that gorgeous letterpress corporate manifesto, and asked if they could design a poster for me that we could hang proudly in our home. Letterpress (because of its cost) was out of the question, but the artists at Aardvark designed this digital print for us.
Over dinner the other night my friend Carol asked me how we explained this all to our seven year old. Fair question. True, manifesto is a big word for a young child. Simply put, we told him the poster reflects what’s important and fun to us and ultimately makes us happy. Surprisingly, Make Your Bed Every Day made Ry smile. And every time I see the poster, play with the Legos just makes me smile.
If you’re looking for some inspiration, I can’t recommend enough Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project, which I was reading while working on our manifesto.