It is SO SO SO easy to pick on people we live with day in day out.
Siblings are the best at it. “I want that toy” or “I had it first” followed by “He’s hit me” and random yelling…As the eldest of four kids I know full well how easy it was for me to find fault with my siblings. I still do lol. So why is it so easy for me to find praise for other members of my “extended family” like girlfriends…It’s nothing for me to put a post up on Facebook celebrating a friends successful parenting choice or even a general statement about what a great job they’re doing.
It’s also so easy (outside the family home) to remind friends their personal failures have a silver lining or find some meme that makes us both laugh at our circumstance…I’m forever reading blogs or listening to podcasts by motivational speakers and I write about my findings often..I’ll be the first to put my hand up and say though I’m as human as the next overworked Mom or Dad I need reminders sometimes too.
I’m not even sure who introduced me to celebrating family failures but it’s something we’ve done for a while. I don’t mean saying to your partner “Why can’t you just read the instructions?!?” or snapping “You’re always making me late” to your son. Nor am I talking about self loathing…God! Nothing is worse than playing martyrdom with self destructive comments. Truly celebrating failure is a practice if put into place could a) Help every speaking member of the family accept they are “only human” as well as b) it acting as a reminder that not all things do go to plan. Not all of life IS good. That sometimes crap things happen to good people. It’s an important life lesson and it’s important to be taught not everyone comes in first all of the time. Sometimes we even come last.
So we begin with “what is your biggest fail today?” I’ll start. My biggest fail today was taking my work clothes to the gym this morning so I could change afterwards for a meeting but forgetting my towel and shoes.
The kids love it. They laugh and jeer. They want detail. They want to know how I dried myself then…with paper towels by the way (more laughter) and the shoes you ask? I had to walk into a shoe store in my business attire, with no shoes on and explain that I needed to buy a new pair of shoes because I was a disorganised basket case. Uhuh!!!
Then it’s their turn. “My biggest fail today was talking in class even after I was told to stop and getting a bro” (It’s like a warning) “Good fail” we’ll all say! Comments will be made like “Yeah that’s a good fail for sure!” We’ll also talk about it. “How did that make you feel? How did it make your teacher feel when you were talking and then you didn’t listen? What could you have done differently? Have you apologised? Are you going to apologise?”
I may not have even been told about the fail if we didn’t have a “celebrate failures” time at dinner. Then we move on. We talk about it. We all clap when the failure has been announced and then we put it to bed. It doesn’t need to be continued to be mentioned. We don’t need to continue to punish ourselves or each other for our failures. It’s done. It’s had it’s time and we’ve communicated about it and we’ve moved on.
We’ve been doing the “celebrating failures” for a while. It’s been pretty successful. It’s opened up the dinner time communications lines and I’ve taught my kids that I’m just as much of a failure as an adult as they feel as a child sometimes.
Very recently I met a beautiful man with 2 beautiful children. It’s so easy to find wonderful things to say about them and to say to them. I’m not complacent or taking them for granted partly because of the newness of it all. When this new 8 year old in my life kisses her brother on the head because he’s hurt himself I tell her how lovely it is to see her so caring. When my new boyfriend listens to me without trying to fix it or shares something personal I recognise it on the spot. It’s wonderful and we’re all walking around basking in the glow of new love and the feeling of being appreciated.
Not one to miss an opportunity and in the spirit of always wanting to be the best version of myself both to and with my family I’ve decided to introduce a part two to the celebrating failures… While I value the concept of moving on from our failures I equally recognise just how important it is to remember our successes. I don’t want us to forget them (and it’s easy to do with such busy lives especially to those that have been around us forever.) Instead, I want to hang onto these memories and share with one another what it is we appreciate about the efforts they’ve made. I’ve heard of a concept called a “tip jar” where siblings can write down positive affirmations about the other or Mum/Dad can write them down and put them into the jar. What I really like about this concept is that the comments are KEPT not thrown away in a passing conversation.
The “tip jar” includes praise like “I liked it when you shared your toys with me today. Love from Ellie.” I might write something like “I was really proud of you eating all your lunch today. Love from Mom” or even to our partners “Thanks for just listening today when I was angry about my ex.” It’s nice to be reminded and it’s nice to open the jar up from time to time and reflect on how much we actually are loved…We just don’t share it as often as we could.
You can call it, decorate it or label it whatever you like. I might call ours “What I like about you” and I might even make separate jars for each person in the family, a photo on each jar…However we decide to create this new ritual I’m happy to know that I’m sharing my positive thoughts directly with those I love the most. In a fire…I reckon it would be the first thing I’d grab.
Written By School Mum Carla