Between tidying up and getting the kids ready, some days it’s a miracle that you have any time for yourself, let alone some much needed QT with the fam. (We can’t all be the Beckham family.) But Bruce Feiler, a family columnist at The New York Times and creator of the TED Talk “Agile programming — for your family,” believes in just 20 minutes a week you can have a less stressful home life.
After talking with Green Berets, tech start ups and peace negotiators, he noticed that the common thread between keeping the crazy under control was the ability to quickly adapt. “It’s like they say in the Internet world,” Feiler says in his TED Talk. “If you’re doing the same thing today you were doing six months ago, you’re doing the wrong thing. Parents can learn a lot from that.”
He borrowed a concept from the tech world called agile programming, which relies on answering these three questions: What worked well, what didn’t work and what will we agree to work on in the upcoming week? Feiler poses these questions to his wife and two twin daughters in a short family meeting every week. As a result, he and his wife were less stressed, everyone was happier and “it cut parental screaming in half,” he laughs.
Explore unusual ways to improve your family life in his book The Secrets of Happy Families ($11) and scroll on for Feiler’s tips for modern parenting from his TED Talk.
Tips for Modern Parenting
1. Establish what’s important: Most corporations use vision statements to describe their core values. Doing the same for your family provides a foundation that you can refer back to. Feiler recommends agreeing upon 10 statements that resonate with the family, kids included.
2. Welcome new ideas: What works for your household won’t necessarily come from family experts or self-help books. “The truth is, their ideas are stale, whereas in all these other worlds there are these new ideas to make groups and teams work effectively,” Feiler says in his talk. Keep an open mind to management ideas from the office or even the solutions that your kids suggest. If it’s not doing the job, you can try something else out next week.
3. Empower your kids: Children become surprisingly responsible when you let them choose their chores, rewards and punishments. Feiler suggests using checklists to remind your little ones of what they’ve agreed to. While they’re bound to forget from time to time, accepting the consequences is part of becoming an independent young person in the real world. Celebrate your kids’ successes and provide support where it’s needed.
What rules will your family come up with? Tweet us @BritandCo!