Developing Effective Family Systems – How to

by Mary Ann on September 20, 2011

Kim Flynn picture

Kim Flynn - Queen of the Mama Biz

I have a friend and mentor who is a systems specialist. She has a very successful business teaching others how to play big and bold without living in their business and being riddled with guilt for not giving more to their families. She teaches business owners to use systems to free themselves so they can own a business but not run a business. Big difference! She has successfully owned five businesses herself while raising a family. However, long before Kim had her current business she began using systems with her family in her home.

The drawer you are looking at is in her office. She has never cleaned it out since she put it together a number of years ago. I know you are thinking “That is all well and good but I have kids who make chaos of everything”. Kim also has kids, four of them ranging in age from 2 to 11. She has included them in her systems and they have learned to have respect for systems. Systems bring this family a lot of time, order, and peace.

Kim's desk drawer - never reorganized!

I have been thinking a lot about that lately, the value of systems. Someone recently asked me how I overcame my yelling habit. I was a bit at a loss as to how to answer but I have thought about it. I developed a system. You can’t just say I am never going to do thus and such again. Will power is never enough to cause lasting change. What I had to do was devise a plan, a system, if you will, for what I was going to do instead of yelling. It wasn’t easy. It took some determination but here is what I have found to be the hardest, continuing to use the system once you have decided on one.

I am actually very organized. In fact I sometimes help other people organize their messes but they usually don’t stay organized because they don’t continue to use their new system to maintain the order. In my home I have developed a number of systems to maintain order and they work as long as I follow the system. If there is a place for the glue then that is where I need to put it when I am done and not put it on the vanity to put away later.

brenley flynn photo

Brenley, a systems player in the Flynn home with her wonderful painting

Another problem with some of my systems is that I do not always get my family to enroll in them. So they have no reason to keep the system going. They think it is for my convenience and they have no vested interest in it. So eventually you have a mess in whatever area it is and you have to spend extra time to un-mess it.

The wonderful Austin Flynn and his amazing painting

This is what I have noticed about Kim and her family. She is not only a system expert but she has gotten her family to enroll in the systems and for the most part they use them.

The artist, my friend Jason Flynn

Here are some tips that might help you enroll yourself and your family in systems that will help everything run smoother.

  • Ask enrolling questions
  • Ask them to participate
  • Let them know what’s in it for them
  • Then earn the right to tell, teach or request anything of them

Here are two examples of how this might look:

1. Overcoming a bad habit of your own, let’s say procrastinating doing your dishes.

a. Ask yourself enrolling questions. Write them down.

  • Wouldn’t I love to see a clean kitchen every morning?
  • Wouldn’t it feel refreshing to never feel guilty about dishes again?

b. Welcome yourself to participate. Give yourself a pep talk. Write it down.

  • I am so glad that I am going to embark on this exciting new adventure. I am going to learn to be organized in the kitchen and get the dishes done and I am going to have a good time experiencing this new growth. I am excited!

c. Let yourself know what’s in it for you. Write it down.

  • When I have learned to really keep this kitchen clean I am going to be able to sit down with my family in the evening and read with them and I will feel so happy. Getting up in the morning and starting the day without dishes is going to be wildly freeing!

d. Then earn the right to ask this change from yourself. Write it down.

  • I have done a magnificent job organizing my Sunday School class. I know that I can organize myself and get the dishes done too, just like I do with my Sunday School class.

Once you are enrolled you will have made a firmer commitment to the change. You won’t be perfect but you will be successful. Whenever you find yourself flagging in your efforts then re-enroll yourself by reading out loud what you wrote down.

2. Getting your children to get chores done before school time.

a. Ask enrolling questions.

  • Would you like to rest and have a super snack after school time and watch a video?
  • Would you like me to teach you how we could do that?

b. Welcome them to participate.

  • I appreciate you guys talking with me this morning. I think that I have something really powerful to share with you that you are going to love that will help us be able to do those things after school time.

c. Let them know what’s in it for them.

  • I want to talk about how we can free up more time in the afternoon to do the restful things that we want to do. When we do this you are going to be able to read more; lay on the couch and think and enjoy a snack without having to rush. In fact on some days you are going to be able to watch a video.

E. Earn the right to make this suggestion.

  • You know I have been a mommy for over 12 years and I know a lot about getting things done really fast, really well and making time for rest and fun. I have been practicing doing these things for a long time and so I know a lot about it.

Now lay out your plan for how the chores can get done before school time. Then make sure that the rewards happen!

The point of this whole article is that if you have systems in your home, enroll your family in participating in them and then have rewards, you will save yourself a lot of time, live with less chaos and have more peace. When we don’t implement systems then we live by default. Our system is no system. This never makes a family as effective as it could be.

So look around. What one thing is bugging you the most? (I said ONE thing!) How could you change it? Now enroll your family in the effort to make a change.

I know that many of you out there have learned this principle. Share your experiences and help those who are just beginning to work on it. What has worked for you.

Possibly Related Posts:

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Tresta September 22, 2011 at 1:26 am

Thank you for sharing this beautiful message. It is “funny” timing as my son, just yesterday, was teaching me how to ask enrolling questions and how to get children to do what I asked them to do. This is the perfect example I needed and it is perfect timing. Thank you coach!


Mary Ann September 22, 2011 at 4:01 am

Now this is why I LOVE working with kids so much. If we just listen to them we can learn sooooooo much! Good for your son : )


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: