Family life is hard. Not, “Oh shoot, I have to work late tonight,” kind of hard. But really… super, intensely, sometimes soul-crushingly, hard. Like your four-year-old just puked in the back of the minivan on the way to taking your tween to the ER for a broken toe. While she’s screaming in pain, you’re fighting back tears because your spouse just texted that he’s struggling in the marriage.

If you’re the kind of parent who desires happy, responsible, kind kids with a mother and a father… you get what I mean about family life being tough. Most of us aren’t willing to talk about it, but there are times, sometimes multiple times in a single day, when I feel like throwing in the towel. There have been long stretches when I’ve felt as if I’m toiling away, putting in the time and effort, providing countless servings of fruits and veggies, but the results are… “meh” at best. I strive to stay positive, but I still find myself occasionally screaming at the top of my lungs. The hubs and I long for kids who are disciplined, and attentive, but for two hours of quiet, we will happily plug them into screen time (psst…get our screen-time checklist here) because it’s about staying sane… and our survival.

Hmmm… “If I get in the car and drive, how quickly can I make it to my best friend’s house who lives five states away?”

While thoughts about giving up are pretty normal. As loving, intentional parents, we won’t ever quit. But what sparks that determination? Despite the chaos, exhaustion, and worry, I wake up each day and am back at it. My husband and I roll up our sleeves and fight the good fight because we are heartened by the sound of our kid’s uncontrollable laughter, witnessing their joy in a lightning bolt moment of learning, and recalling our intense romantic love that started it all… seemingly a lifetime ago. We cling to the hope that there are more of those beautiful and profound moments around the corner. But mostly we do it because we LOVE—with everything in us.

Good parents have grit and overcome unimaginable obstacles in order to be present in their children’s lives. In some ways, we are the heroic underdogs in an action adventure movie who everyone is rooting for to “KEEP GOING!” I don’t know about you, but I love a good underdog story. Fred Astaire, a Hollywood legend known for his talent & handsome gallantry, kept the notes from his very first screen test for MGM. The director wrote, “Can’t act. Can’t sing. Slightly bald.” He wasn’t demoralized by that stinging critique. Instead he dug in, eventually dancing his way to stardom. He even displayed those cutting words in his Beverly Hills mansion to remind himself to never throw in the towel.

Parents like us need those same tangible reminders to persevere, but ours play out in word pictures, when a toddler grabs for his mom’s hands as he takes his first steps, a kindergartner happily taking her seat on the first day with a wave and a nod as her anxious parents look on, or an older brother adorably consoling his sister after she’s fallen. These moments motivate us to not quit…

As parents fully invested in our families, of course, we crave more! We have big plans for the most important people in our lives, plans that include a deepening love, happiness, and brighter futures... and oh yeah, less yelling and arguing, pretty please.

What if there was a proven, effective way to tap thoroughly into those cherished, joyful family moments and experience them more often and more consistently? I don’t know about you, but I’m not ready to introduce big sweeping changes. That sounds beyond daunting, especially for those of us who are already feeling overwhelmed and overworked! What I’m learning though, is that big impact comes when we make small, manageable changes to our everyday habits. Tiny steps in the right direction over time add up to major results. I’m guessing Fred Astaire didn’t simply twirl his way out of a tough spot after that miserable first screen test. He probably picked himself up, carried on and took on small consistent changes that eventually paid off. Most great success stories are about underdogs who chose daily to stay on the journey. Eventually they were heroes! You don’t get into shape overnight with a crash diet, but by walking 30 minutes a day and adding more healthy foods to a regular diet, that equals lasting change.

This spring, Families of Character invites families like mine and yours into an Adventure into Character, by launching a subscription box that helps parents model and share the amazing character strengths they already possess! Our rallying cry for all of us moms & dads? You have everything you need inside of you to grow families built on strong character right now. We’re just happy to provide some fun and easy ways to express those qualities to one another in a way that empowers everyone.

Bonus: our boxes will cut down on screen time! Sometimes, we just need a little help getting out of the way of our own progress. Parenting and family life doesn’t come with an instruction manual. (For me, that’s a good thing. Ever tried to put together furniture from Ikea?) I prefer having a guided tour on this trek. Imagine taking on an adventure towards more unity, joy, and peace. Imagine being that underdog family that is mere steps away from becoming the heroes of a community. Everyone’s cheering them on! Look closer, that is my family… and yours.

Our signature Adventure into Character subscription series is here! I’m gonna be real here… I'm ecstatic. This underdog parent is ready to soar on the adventure of a lifetime with the hubs at my side and my kids securely in tow. More cherished family moments to come!

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