“Dad, I’m hungry!”
“Dad, I’m tired!”
“Dad, my leg hurts!”
“Dad, Kyle is looking at me!”
“Dad, Kyle isn’t looking at me!”
As a stay-at-home dad, these types of complaints are a regular occurrence. All. The. Time.
Sure I can try to tune out the complaints, or I can do something proactive about them. I decided to do something proactive about them. I created the Complaint Project ( http://complaintproject.com ).
The Complaint Project is a 21-Day Challenge to eliminate complaining from your life. Piece of cake, right?
When you sign up for the Complaint Project you’ll get an email sent to you each day. We’ll tackle a different topic each time—one day may be thankfulness, another may be health. What we’re trying to do is get you to think holistically about life. Some days you’ll get motivational videos, just to help you make it through the day.
HOW IT WORKS
We start with defining what a complaint is. A complaint is a negative expression about something or someone without having a next action. A next action is something you can say or do regarding the complaint to take action.
Complaint: “Dad, I’m hungry!”
￼Not a Complaint: “Dad, I’m hungry. … I’m going to make a sandwich!”
I then give each kid a wristband (you can use a rubber band or a bracelet) that they change from hand to hand each time they complain. This gives them a physical indicator of a complaint, and a reminder, but also makes it a little fun.
“Dad … Cooper just complained!” “Coop, switch your band.”
WHAT DOES SCIENCE SAY?
My degree says “Accounting.” I’m a data geek. Data doesn’t lie. Data doesn’t manipulate. The data shows that getting rid of complaints makes you happy mentally AND physically. I’m not going to bore you with the stats here. Google it.
WHAT DOES GOD SAY?
What does God say about complaining? Well, quite a bit—here are just a few verses on it:
Do all things without grumbling or disputing. (Philippians 2:14 ESV)
Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. (James 5:9 ESV)
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. (Ephesians 4:29 ESV)
Not complaining is not only good for your mental and physical health, but God also says, “Don’t do it.”
LESSONS LEARNED FROM THE COMPLAINT PROJECT
We’ve been using the Complaint Project at home for the last six months. We’ve learned some valuable lessons by doing it—here are a few of them:
1. Gratitude. Eliminating complaining (or at least slowing it down) has made our kids (and my wife and me) pause and reflect. It gives us a chance to think about why we are complaining. It also gives us an opportunity to be thankful for what we have and think about those who don’t have what we have. We talk a lot about teachable moments. Think of each complaint as a teachable moment. What is at the heart of the complaint? What good can come from this complaint? Get your kids (and yourself) thinking about next actions.
2. Habits Take Time. Habits take time to adopt. The Complaint Project is a 21-day challenge. Our family has been on the project so long that it’s become a habit. Yes, our kids still complain, but the Complaint Project has given us a framework, a tool, to use to combat the complaints. Each quarter, I will go through the 21-day challenge as a refresher. It’s like a workout for my mind.
3. Practice What You Preach. Our kids catch my wife and me complaining: “Move your band, Dad!” We have four tiny accountability partners built into our home life. They are Cooper, Kyle, Katie, and Sydney. We do a good job of pointing out complaints and asking for a next action. “What should you do about it?” is the common response. I’ll even overhear the kids saying that to each other: “Katie … what should you do about that complaint?”
TAKE THE COMPLAINT PROJECT CHALLENGE
I’m going to challenge you to take the Complaint Project challenge. And I’m going to challenge you to get your family and friends involved. The more accountability partners you can surround yourself with, the better chance of success.
Take the Complaint Project challenge. It’s free. It’s easy. It could change your life. I know it did mine.
Sign up at http://complaintproject.com