Just Start – Family Challenge

Are you searching for ways to build a stronger family bond? Just Start is a collection of daily activities and journal reflections that you can do together as a family. It’s designed to help you exercise intentional action and make you feel uplifted.

Over dinner or a family meeting kick off your challenge. Start by presenting the challenge to your family and explain what you are hoping to achieve. Here are some possible goals you could be aiming for but it is important to tailor this around your family’s needs.

  • Have fun together
  • Create a record of thoughts and ideas to share and all look back on in years to come
  • Focus on being positive
  • Improve writing
  • Make thoughts visual

Keep in mind that not only are you promoting and modeling reflection and positive action, but you are supporting your children to develop life skills including goal setting, time management and self-motivation.

Make a plan

Discuss the details. Ultimately, you want to create an actionable plan to follow throughout the process.

Essential elements:

  • Set a time each day to announce the focus for the day, outline the activity and read the reflection prompt. 
  • Be prepared to fit the daily activity into the schedule for all members of your family. The activities will take between fifteen minutes to about an hour depending on what you choose to do.
  • Put together a collection of blank notebooks for each member of the family along with tools to write and draw. What sort of pens and pencils do you need?
  • Set a time each day when you will all respond to the journal prompt. I suggest to allocate about 30 minutes, but this depends on the age of your family members. 15 minutes may be enough for younger children. Where and when will you do this?
  • Decide how you will celebrate when your goal is reached.

Listen to everyone’s ideas. This includes any little kids so everyone feels enthusiastic about participating.


Track your progress

Decide exactly how will you track your family’s progress during this challenge. You could set up a chart or other visual display so that everyone can see your collective progress.

Never judge or correct each other’s writing

You and your children don’t have to be great writers to keep a journal. The focus is on recording ideas and reflections. It is important that the writer feels fee to record their thoughts without a focus on correct grammar and spelling or being judged for what they think.

Enjoy the process of writing

Journaling creates an opportunity to appreciate writing as a creative process—experiencing it as a joyful practice rather than academic drudgery. When you are writing what you think and feel, there is no right or wrong.

Write about thoughts and feeling

It is important not to think of journaling as just creating a log or diary in which you create lists and record facts. Reflection is about thinking about what you notice, how you feel, your analysis of something and thoughts of possible actions you will take.

Get your thoughts out of your head

If you struggle with constructing complete sentences that clarify your thoughts, write words and phrases. You could also consider using a tool and dictate your thoughts such as a voice recorder application on your phone. Don’t let your concern about your ability to write stop your reflective thinking.

Create a positive atmosphere

This is a challenge so make sure you keep encouraging each other by praising the efforts you are all making. Find ways to create a positive environment that benefits all member of your family. This could be:

  • Sharing a snack while writing in your journal
  • Listening to song before you start writing to help you think or motivate you
  • An activity you all do together once you’ve written in your journals

Also think about where you are going to sit and write in your journals – at the dining table, on the kitchen bench, on a rug in your garden or in a park. Check if all family members are happy with the chosen location. Do they prefer to sit at a table, lie on the floor, have background music? If outside, check the weather? Are the neighbours, birds, traffic distracting?

A final note...

Keep in mind the reason why you choose to do this challenge – don’t let it become a chore or reason to growl at each other. Have fun and be appreciative of the input and efforts from each family member – don’t expect or assume they think like you.