Every Sunday morning, I gather around the kitchen table with my family. Me, wife, and my four children all have breakfast together, and we take this opportunity every week to have a quick family meeting. This is almost always met (predictably) with a lot of groaning and complaining from my children, but without fail, my wife and I still ensure it happens.
These family meetings are a chance to talk about some of the highlights of the previous week, as well as anything we have for the upcoming days. More often than not, it’s a lot of logistical details about sports practice, appointments, and school activities, but we also try to talk about other relevant ideas or topics going on in our lives. It’s a simple, easy way to touch base and to connect with every member of our little family.
Our weekly family meeting is also a time we get to implement something I encountered in an Entrepreneurs’ Organization learning event: the family bank.
I had the privilege of meeting the couple who wrote a book around this idea, and my wife and I decided to implement it in our day-to-day lives. At its heart, the exercise is all about contribution and the idea that the act of contributing has benefits—both for the individual and the group.
With that framework in mind, we go through all the activities the kids are responsible for every week, and one we talk about every time is “up and out” in the morning. This is the simple idea that our children are responsible for getting themselves up and ready to go to school. This includes tasks like waking up, getting dressed, brushing their teeth, and—the most dreaded of all—making their bed.
At our most recent family meeting, my son was groaning about this last chore. Since he was unhappy with the system, I asked him why he thought my wife and I prioritized making the bed in the morning. He wasn’t sure. My daughter chimed in and said it was to make our rooms look nice, and after a bit of thought, my eldest son had an answer too: to get the day started right.
In that moment, I don’t think my son realized what a profound answer that was. It immediately made me recall the speech by US Navy Admiral William H. McRaven about making your bed every morning.
Even when you’re having a day on par with Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, you can still come home to a nice bed you made. On those days where nothing seems to go right, sometimes that’s all you have. A made bed can be a reminder that, despite all the bad things, you accomplished something in that day. When you go to bed, looking to rest, recuperate, and start over from one of those particularly unpleasant days, at least you’ll have that nice, tidy, comfortable bed in which to do it.
As we were discussing this, my wife also shared that making a bed can mean more than just personal accomplishment. It can be an important connection to family and those who matter to you. As a young adult, whenever my wife moved, her parents helped her settle into her new place, and the first thing her mother always did was help her make her bed. When my wife was in the new place all by herself at night, she knew the nice, neat bed she was in was something she and her mother had done together, and that made her feel a little bit closer to those she loved.
When my son sat at our breakfast table and asked why he had to make his bed, the answer was not about cleanliness. It was about personal responsibility and the idea that something as seemingly small as making a bed can have a profound and meaningful impact on your life. It was about how details matter. How the little things matter. And how, more often than not, all those little things add up over time to something far more profound than a daily chore.
So, ask yourself: Did you make your bed this morning?