Disclosure: I received this product free through the Homeschool Review Crew
Occasionally, we get reviews for items that I've never heard of that seem to fall into place just at the right time. These are typically items I never would have realized I needed or wanted, but once I had them in hand, I can't imagine how I would have done without them. This review is one of those such items. For the last few weeks, our family has been reviewing The Family Journal by Byron's Games and it has quickly become a resource that has become invaluable to us during an extremely stressful season in our lives.
What is The Family Journal?
The Family Journal is an undated planner combined with a grateful journal to be used as a family. Containing planning pages as well as guided questions to help parents and kids prepare for both short and long term goals for year, month and week, this journal also offers discussion questions to focus on appreciating and reflecting on things such as quality time spent together, discussing family history and traditions, dreams and aspirations, budgeting and more.
The Family Journal, Creating a Climate for Closeness with:
● Weekly, Monthly, and Yearly Family and Individual Goals
● Deep Discussion Prompts
● Influential Quotes for Reflection
● Fun Family Activities
● Guided Family Meetings
● And More!
The Journal itself is a 289 page hardcovered book. It is broken down into two main section. The first containing planning pages for 12 months with four pages per month. These contain a blank calendar page which can be started any time of the year (no need to wait til January), a page for family goals and task planning, and two pages for a monthly review at the end of the month to reflect on how well the family did in achieving the goals set for each month. The second section has pages for 52 weeks. Each week also spans 4 pages, with sections to review the previous week, establish new goals for the upcoming week and how the family might work together to help each other accomplish the goals, and then a short discussion section focusing on a theme that can open communication and help the family learn more about each other or learn something fun about the world around us. Also included are weekly "Connection Activities" that make suggestions such as visiting a museum, planting a garden together, or write a silly story together. Also included each week are quotes that are inspirational or just fun.
The journal also includes ribbon book marks, which are handy for marking your place in both the month and weekly portion of the journal you are at, making it very easy to go straight to where you are at. I really thought this was a nice touch and it was super helpful for the kids when they wanted to review their goals for the week.
How Did We Use It?
As mentioned in the opening of this review, this journal came to us during what is a very stressful time in all of our lives. After ten years of being stationed at our base in California, we are in the process of packing up and moving halfway across the country for what is called in the military as a PCS or a Permanent Change of Station. This move has been extremely stressful. First, we were given orders in a very short period of time - typically you are given 9 months to a year heads up. We were given less than 4 months warning. Second, after ten years, we have accumulated a lot of stuff.. Third, this is the only home the kids have really ever know since they were so little when we moved here. Fourth, moving means LOTS of things we have to get accomplished in a very short period of time.
For this review, we decided to use this family planner to help us reduce some of the stress and anxiety of this move, and I must stay, it has REALLY helped to get organized.
Each week, we hold a family meeting, usually after we return home after chapel each Sunday. Our first meeting, we discussed plans for the year, as well as the month of February and the upcoming week. And since it was our very first family meeting using the journal, we were prompted to work together to create a family mission statement after answering questions in regards to how describe our family, how we aspire to talk and treat each other as well as those outside our family, what our families values and beliefs were and stuff like that. I really enjoyed hearing how each member of our family described our family and our values and made me very happy that the kids view our family in such positive ways.
Following our mission statement, we started making our monthly and weekly goals.
|Working on Monthly Goals for February|
Since we were already in the moving mindset, this allowed us to make realistic goals for the week: what each person would try to tackle before the end of the week, what we needed to accomplish as a family, and how we could reward ourselves at the end of the week for accomplishing our goals. After making our weekly goals, we then had a nice discussion where we each went around the room and named one thing we were grateful for that week. We ended with agreeing that we would hold our next meeting the following Sunday following church.
We left the journal on our coffee table in the family room, where it was easily accessible to everyone to review their goals for the week.
And at the end of the week, when we regrouped to see what we accomplished, we realized that with the exception of giving the dog a bath, we pretty much accomplished everything we set out to do. Everyone had donated enough items to fill a trash bag, the household chores that were asked of them were done each day, and alot of unnecessary clutter had been tossed out.
Lately, the kids seem to really look forward to the Sunday meetings. I think they enjoy not only the time with the family, but I think they enjoy the fact that they know that at the meeting, their accomplishments at achieving the weekly goal will be recognized by the group.
This Sunday will be the next meeting where we will actually plan for the month. Sadly, we were unable to meet our Monthly Challenge, which was a trip to Death Valley since our car had broke down and was in the repair shop for most of the month - however, we are going this weekend, so just a few days late.
This journal really has been a God send to us during this move and we will continue to use it right until we lock the door and turn in the key to our house and I have no doubt that it will then sit on the coffee table at our new home as we continue to use it to make plans, set goals and accomplish tasks at our next destination. It's a great way to allow each family member the opportunity to have their voices heard and contribute to the family discussion each week and I think it would make a great addition to any family.
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