How a Family Retreat will Benefit Your Family

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Many organizations hold yearly employee performance reviews. These evaluations reinforce what their managers expect in the workplace but also provide employers with information to use when making decisions about promotions, pay raises, and layoffs. Also, many organizations utilize the 360 peer review which is an assessment of interpersonal skills from an employee’s peers.

A few years back we decided to harness the power of these types of reviews in the workplace and see what they could do for our family. Since starting it three years ago, we have seen a tremendous amount of growth. We hold these “annual reviews” each year during our family retreat.

Our family retreat consists of two to three days of connecting with another. We play games, mini-golf, and go swimming together, but we also have conversations that assess where we are individually and as a family. We use worksheets that were inspired by 360 peer reviews commonly used by organizations.

The benefits of having these retreats are:

It Increases Self-Awareness - When you receive feedback from multiple sources, you get a full view of yourself, one that is not one-sided and biased. This information gives us a sense of how others perceive us and how our behavior impacts those around us. This is vital for both parents and kids.

It Provides A Full Perspective of Strengths and Weaknesses - Our retreat worksheet touches on how we get along, are we courteous? Honest? Everyone gets to give their opinions, not just the parents, which produces a multi-dimensional perspective. We have a chance to cheer each other on and make suggestions on how they can improve.

It Builds Confidence and Boosts Morale - Dedicated time to give honest feedback allows family members feel heard and as a result, they believe that what they say matters. This cultivates an atmosphere of openness. They can feel assured about how they can move towards their family values.

It Empowers Us. - As parents, we gain greater insight and understanding into our kids and can then come up with creative ways to parent them. Even siblings gain insight into who they each are and how they can interact with one another.

It Increases Accountability - As we have these discussions, we acquire language around behaviors and the expectations we have. This allows us to hold one another accountable to our values as well as encourage each other in our growth.

Fosters continuous improvement - Busyness can prevent growth. Annual retreats and mid-year check-ins remind us over and over again of who we are becoming and address the areas of our life that need attention.

To read more about our family’s first retreat check out my post Harnessing the Power of Peer Reviews for Your Next Family Retreat.

We started having our family retreats when our kids were 8,10, and 12, but I believe you can host them your kids are younger than ours were. You can start when your child old is able to have a conversation and give their opinion on things such as when do they feel most loved, what they like most about your family, and what they like least you can begin to do this.

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The Family Retreat Packet we’ve created contains worksheets for kids 3rd grade and beyond, but you can customize your discussions for younger children. The packet also includes sample itineraries and activity that will save you time planning.

Here are a few suggestions we have:

  • Get Away - It is easier to focus on your activities and discussions when you are not at home.

  • Alternate family building discussions with activities and special treats.  

  • Keep discussions to 25/30 minutes. Also, be mindful of the pace of our conversations. You may need to slow it down or speed it up if needed.  

  • Research restaurants and activities in the area ahead of time.

  • Create a schedule and stick to it.

We were surprised excited, and cooperative our kids were at our first retreat. They enjoyed spending time together and sharing what they were thinking and feeling with us. Year after year we continue to marvel at how articulate and open we all become during the discussions.

Full disclosure: It’s never perfect, but we do our best to be patient with the process.


Are you interested in hosting your own retreat?

We’ve taken the guesswork out planning yours by creating the Family Retreat Packet. It’s guaranteed to save you time!

Our Family Retreat Packet includes:

  • Sample Itinerary

  • Packing List

  • Activity Suggestions

  • Discussions Worksheets

  • and much more!


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