Family Traditions, Team Building and YOUR MISSION – Three Tips for Starting Your Own FT’s

Family Traditions, Team Building and YOUR MISSION – Three Tips for Starting Your Own FT’s

I’m not just a mom.  I’m a CEO.  I’m the CEO of my family.

I take running my family very seriously, and for the sake of expediency, I’m going to assume you do too. As a military family, every moment counts. Our lifestyle demands an iron will, and a full-court press into family life. Twenty-two years as a Marine Corps Spouse have taught me 2 things:

1) Your next crisis is either around the corner, or already upon you. Or maybe even overlapping for that fabulous one-two-punch.

2) Joy must be attained by a ruthless plot and sometimes assault.  As the CEO of my family, I have determined that we rate joy. We rate fun. All we have to do is reach out and grab it. True, we may have to assault it first – stab it, wrestle it to the ground, smother it, choke it until it relents and agrees to stay – but goddam it, we WILL HAVE JOY!! We will kidnap joy and hold it hostage. Because we rate it. We deserve it. That’s been my method, and whadaya know….it works. Because no kidding, my house it bursting at the seams with joy. My children breathe joy and eat joy for breakfast.  

Yesterday I published a post about what I learned by having my 5th, 6th, and 7th children.  Thank you for reading it.  It’s been my highest viewed post ever – in the 9 years I’ve run this blog. 

You can read that post here.

 The gist of it, however, is that my 5th, 6th, and 7th children taught me that my family is everything.  Every second of my time is channeled into my “MISSION”, and my mission is the wellbeing of my children, myself, and my marriage.  An invisible “fourth place” in that triage is my husband’s career, as it plays a supporting role (although it’s not the main event).  I am unapologetically ruthless in protecting my assets.   I’ve learned in the last 20+ years that I get to make a choice every day in my “operations”.  I choose my actions very wisely.  Is it “on mission”?  Who is this benefiting?  Am I wasting my time?  Am I wasting my resources?  Am I wasting my emotional capital?  

Every single day I weigh my assets against my resources.  How can I protect my assets with the resources I have available?  What variables are floating into the equation?  Is it a singular variable, or a recurring variable? Then I identify the threats. 

Threats to my MISSION come in many forms.  And as much as I’d like to bitch about people, and people’s expectations, and the bullshit-time wasting shenanigans people impose, I’m going to resist that urge.  Yes, there are people who are threats – and I’m very good at spotting them and ripping their throats open with my own bare hands handling them.  


The biggest threat to my MISSION is my own procrastination, laziness, and resistance.

I don’t think I’m alone in that.  We humans are ridiculously self-sabatoging.

So, I came up with a plan that would make me STICK TO A PROGRAM.

Since the expectations of children are probably one of the strongest forces in the cosmos, I decided to leverage that power to benefit my MISSION.

And since humans have used ritual to provide consistency for entire cultures since the dawn of time, I decided that would be a good tool as well. 

So kids, let’s do some math…

Expectation + Ritual = TRADITION 

But what traditions? 

Any traditions you want.  As a parent, you get to make shit up for your own family.  Ever notice that?  If I told my kids that every year on December 15 green candy will rain from the sky – they would believe me.  And if I created some kind of illusion of green candy rainfall, they would be amazed – and they would trust me.  And then, they would expect it to happen again, and if I delivered again, they’d be amazed and grateful again.  Even after a few years – if I didn’t feel like making green candy rain from the sky anymore, the kids would still expect it – and I, being a good mother, would get over myself and make the event happen again so as not to disappoint the little people. 

It’s team building 101.

Or in other words “Make yourself more reliable than you actually are”. 


And that’s the premise of my Family Traditions.



Keep it simple.  Remember, once you start something, your kids are going to expect that you’ll keep it up.  Keeping it up is THE WHOLE POINT.  Building bonds of trust is the whole point.  So keep it simple.  I started with “pizza movie night”.  Every Friday, without fail, we have pizza of some kind, and we watch a family movie.  It’s easy, it’s fun and it works. 


Make sure it’s something YOU enjoy.  Being a whiny martyr mom is not a good way to build family trust.  YOU must (at least) act like you’re having a wonderful time.  I cannot stress this enough.  


Keep it ”in the family” – at least for the first couple years.  We love friends, we have friends, we love spending time with friends.  But family traditions need to be established as JUST family events for a good long while before anyone else is invited.  This is not to exclude anyone, it’s to train yourself and your children that THE FAMILY are guests enough.  That THE FAMILY is a unit that does not need validation from any outside guests to make an EVENT.   

Tomorrow, I’ll post my family traditions, and give other examples of little events that can add up to BIG family unity.  

Thanks for reading,

Shannon Vavich 


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