Prev Next

Creating a Family Manifesto

By Isabel Kallman

Family Manifesto

Family Manifesto Inspiration

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.

Family Manifesto Writing

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.

Family Manifesto Designing

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.

Family Manifesto Explanation

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.

Isabel Kallman
About the Author

Isabel Kallman

Isabel Kallman is the founding mom of

Feel free to send nice emails to isabel[at]alphamom[dot]com.


Isabel Kallman is the founding mom of

Feel free to send nice emails to isabel[at]alphamom[dot]com.

icon icon
chat bubble icon


  • Boston Mamas

    September 20, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    OMG, LOVE THIS Isabel!

  • The Prettiest Manifesto You’ll Ever See

    September 20, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    […] Excerpt and image via Creating a Family Manifesto | Alphamom. […]

  • kim/hormone-colored days

    September 20, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    Christine took the words right out of my mouth. This is fabulous. It reminds me a bit of the process my husband and I went through to create our ketubbah (Jewish wedding “contract”), but this would be great to do as a family. Fabulous!

  • meredith

    September 20, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    Totally totally am digging this…will def. be making one of our very own:)

  • Jennifer James

    September 20, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    This is really inspirational. Totally doing this with my family. Thank you for this incredible idea.

  • mom101

    September 20, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    This is so brilliant in every way. Just like your family.

    Sadly, ours would be like “root for the Redskins” and that’s where Nate would end it.

  • Rhona Berens

    September 20, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    Love this! I’m a huge fan of the importance of declaring our individual, couple and parenting values. For me, it’s part of what I call a “Parent Alliance”, but I love the bold, public mode of writing and creating a post of a Manifesto.

    How much of a values-fan am I? So much of one that two out of my three first blog posts (I’m a newbie blogger who writes about ways that expecting and new parents can keep their relationships strong) are about values, their importance to us as individuals and as co-parents!

    Thank you so much for explaining how you created your Manifesto, how you made it your own, and how you’ve ensured that it will be a living document in your family going forward. This is great!

  • Kimberly/Mom in the City

    September 21, 2010 at 12:09 am

    I love it! It looks even better on your site than on your iphone 🙂

  • jenB

    September 21, 2010 at 1:47 am

    This is fantastic. I have sent it around to some non bloggy friends who are fired up about it. Thanks!!!


  • Caitlyn

    September 21, 2010 at 10:20 am

    my husband and I already have some house rules – though they’re longer and would be difficult to condense.  I may have to give it a try, though – that looks gorgeous!

    I put our current manifesto here:

  • Care

    September 21, 2010 at 10:45 am

    How beautiful! I love it!

  • Rachel ~ A Southern Fairytale

    September 22, 2010 at 5:04 pm

    Isabel, I love this so so so much

  • VDog (Victoria)

    September 24, 2010 at 11:23 am

    LOVE this.

  • Meagan Francis

    September 29, 2010 at 9:45 am

    I can’t tell you how much I love this idea! I recommend creating a family mission statement in my upcoming book, but I agree that the Covey version is a bit intimidating (this is a family, not a business). I’d recommended just writing down goals and values…but this takes it to the next level, especially for someone who is more visual. Love it!

  • Esther Crawford

    September 29, 2010 at 10:55 am

    Totally love this too!

  • UpsideUp

    September 29, 2010 at 11:52 am

    So absolutely fabulous, Isabel. All of your choices resonate strongly with me and our family values. And I love the mix of serious and cheeky. Plus? It’s gorgeous! Thank you so much for creating this and sharing it with us.

    Isabel: OMG– I totally never thanked you here for helping me with the color design of this. THANK YOU. Your recommendation of the aqua blue made it POP. *bows to you in gratitude*

  • Jyl Johnson Pattee

    October 17, 2010 at 2:09 pm

    Had to read this yet again. Am totally inspired by it! Can envision it in your kitchen! 😀


    Isabel: love you, Jyl!

  • On Manifestos: Create Something

    April 8, 2013 at 10:40 am

    […] I want to share the family manifesto that belongs to my friend Isabel. When she wrote about it a while back I loved it so I was glad she linked to it again. Isabel lives […]

  • Create (or buy) a family manifesto

    July 22, 2013 at 2:45 pm

    […] son. Every word was carefully chosen and then typeset to perfection.  Here are instructions for how to create your own family mission statement and the Kallman […]

  • Keira

    December 12, 2013 at 6:02 am

    I think this is amazing, especially the playing with legos 😉 I recently designed a manifesto with my family too to help focus us on helping our children (and us) to become more entrepreneurial. I’d love to know what you think:

  • […] Create A Family Manifesto – This will always be one of my favorite articles at Alpha Mom. Such a cool idea, and a fun, easy family project. […]

  • Do What You Love... - Blessings Multiplied

    February 21, 2015 at 12:09 pm

    […] photo credit […]

  • […] and a half ago, I started writing our family’s “house rules.” I had seen a few of these lists floating around the Internet and really liked what they were all about. Especially in a house with […]

  • […] and a half ago, I started writing our family’s “house rules.” I had seen a few of these lists floating around the Internet and really liked what they were all about. Especially in a house with […]

  • House Rules - Laurie Smithwick

    November 12, 2016 at 10:56 am

    […] and a half ago, I started writing our family’s “house rules.” I had seen a few of these lists floating around the Internet and really liked what they were all about. Especially in a house with […]