As newlyweds living in Colorado, Mike and I spent many winter weekends up in the mountains. My parents enrolled me in ski school when I was three years old, so I felt confident on the slopes as a skier. I was never an expert skier, but I am comfortable enough to manage intermediate runs.
Mike is a snowboarder which is a different vibe on the mountain. Snowboarders seem more relaxed and just surf down the slopes. I was up for learning something new even though my first experience of snowboarding was overwhelming. After Mike purchased a snowboard for me, I was committed to learning. Upon completting many lessons and falls, I finally was able to make it down the hill with a level of ease.
One of our core family values is doing hard things. Being willing to learn new skills, whether, for entertainment, career enhancement, or exercise, is the tone we set for our home. The best way to teach doing hard things is to model taking on hard tasks.
As we thought about the environment we wanted to create in our home, we decided what areas of life we wanted to invest more time in. To illustrate how we challenge our family by doing hard things here are a few stories from our lives.
Doing Hard Things: Around the House
My house is a work in progress. I am always painting the walls, rearranging the furniture, or changing up the seasonal decor. My girls want to be included in the creating of a warm, inviting home so anytime a new home project is thought up they are right there sharing their insights and ideas.
We decided it was time to freshen up our basement living space. Our schoolroom, family TV area, and girls’ play space are all down in our basement. The plan was to paint the walls, rearrange the space, and prepare for our school year to start.
When Mike and I paint, he rolls and I trim. The girls are to an age that they are able to help with painting and want to be part of the project. Mike worked with Adelynn and Elyse on the rolling team while Heidi and I trimmed.
Splitting the girls into teams with one of us leading helped make the basement painting project a success. We put the first coat of paint on in two hours on a Friday night. Saturday morning the girls all came down with their paint clothes on ready for the second coat. It was so cute to hear them express how well they thought the walls looked, the freshness of the room, and appreciate how well we all worked together as a team.
Teaching the girls to complete the hard task of painting the basement took time and patience from Mike + I. We were so appreciative of their level of detail and the speed that we could complete the job working as a team. Now we can all appreciate the basement and really know what it took to freshen it up.
Doing Hard Things: Projects With Grandpa
I remember plenty of hours spent in the garage with my dad during my growing up years. My dad made sure I knew how to change the oil, rotate tires, and put a spare tire on my car. I was usually holding the brake for one reason or another while he was working on our cars.
Now, it is my Adelynn’s turn to learn all about car maintenance from my dad. Adelynn is a huge help when it comes to rotating tires. She is so strong and has a spirit that is willing to do hard things. It is precious watching her do all the things that were at one time my job as a kid. Adelynn finds job satisfaction in completing this task and working alongside my dad.
This summer Adelynn also learned how to mow the lawn with both the push and riding lawn mowers. She is growing up and it is encouraging to see her take on more responsibility and ownership in our home.
The two younger girls are eager to learn these tasks as well but for now, they help by holding flashlights, using the jack to lift up the vehicles, and finding the necessary tools. It is important that they feel like part of the team even if they don’t have the ability to do the hardest part of the task.
Doing Hard Things: Adventure
Doing hard things is not always about performing a skill orientated task, needing strength, or endurance. Some of the most difficult things in life are about overcoming our own fears.
Each one of my girls has their own level of comfort with risk and adventure. What one daughter thinks is scary another sees as exciting. To make sure that they are not overcome with their fears, Mike and I intentionally plan activities that push them just beyond their comfort zones.
One of our girls, who will remain unnamed, is uneasy about boats, cruise ships, and being on the water in general. Since we do not want this fear to inhibit her activities, we have been intentional about planning water activities.
This summer all of our girls learned how to drive a fishing boat. I wasn’t sure how renting fishing boats would go but my parents taught the girls how to drive them and they all had a great time. It was relaxing especially since the girls drove the boat I wasn’t in 🙂
We also went on a kayaking tour in Lake Superior which was a highlight of our summer. The scenery was beautiful. We were able to explore the sandstone sea caves and see many of the Apostle Islands. The girls were a bit unsure of being in such a large body of water especially since it was a bit choppy that day. However, it was a successful day and we were dreaming about where we could kayak next.
I have one more water experience planned for the summer which the girls are most nervous about. We will be white water rafting in Montana. I usually keep plans like this under wrap so they do not overthink all the bad things that could happen. However, the girls heard me making the reservations so they had a lot of safety questions. It has been good to talk about the risk factors and reassuring them that it is safe if they allow small children on the trip. I am hopeful that this will be just another memory of overcoming fear that gets added to their childhood.
My girls are ready to step up to challenges and be part of the team. Incorporating our girls into our life in this way means taking the time to teach them the skills necessary to complete the task. Teaching the girls new skills takes time and energy but benefits them and the rest of the family. As a parent, it means teaching them how to do the task instead of quickly completing it on my own.
Doing hard things in life as a family creates deeper bonds, builds grit and perseverance, and demonstrates overcoming obstacles. After we complete the difficult task, it is a cause for celebration and affirming a job well done.
How do you challenge your family to do hard things?
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