The Great Family Experiment Stories!

We are so excited to launch ‘The Great Family Experiment' this weekend at our Barrie Campus and next week at our Orillia Campus as a part of our current message series, Modern Families.
This is an experiment for both your family and for Connexus as a community.  We can't wait to see what happens!  We hope this experiment helps reinforce the idea of “Creating a Rhythm” for your family by increasing the quantity of quality time you spend together. Thanks for choosing to experiment with us in our first ever Great Family Experiment!
We'd love for you to encourage others by posting some stories, below of how this helped your family spend some quality time, create some memories, or just have some fun.
Using this evaluation form, we'd also love to capture your feedback on how things went so we can do better next time.  Thanks so much for participating and we look forward to hearing all about it!



  1. Irv & Colleen Boet says, October 3, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    We decided to do the experiment after church this morning. When our 10 yr old realized we got to switch seats in the van, he actually tried to sit in the drivers seat – nice try buddy.

    The dollar store was quite fun (the one we went to was small and we were actually hiding our gifts from each other in the lineup). Decided to come home and have leftover lasagne – which is always better on day 2. The kids and dad set the table and we lit candles – which we never do for leftovers! The gift exchange was fun.

    Probably the most meaningful part was when we did the casual conversation questions with the dice. Our 10 yr old got #6 which was “If you could wish for something for someone else in your family what would it be?”. It didn’t take him any time at all to reply “I wish Quincy (little 3 yr old brother) didn’t have so many food allergies so he could enjoy normal food and it would be easier for Mom to pack his lunches.” Irv and I both welled up in tears….not quite the ugly cry but pretty good tears. I guess I never thought he noticed how much more work it is to prepare food for Quincy and how much Quincy misses out on “normal” food.

    For the last “Q” question the boys seemed to think taking a big vacation was a good idea while Jasmine thought a pool in the backyard would help us spend more quality time together (I think she thinks we can skate on it in the winter!)

    Irv thought we should have a family activity night regularly and has also committed to being home for dinner every night (which is a big deal!) I (Colleen) thought that a games night (without TV/videos) would be great.

    So we’ve basically changed our “rhythm” in that we’ve decided to have a good snack after school and change dinner time to 6:30 (usually 5:30) to allow Irv ample time to get home and not starve the kids in the process.

    All in all I feel the experience was positive. It didn’t take us 2 hours but having the leftovers probably helped with the time. We are looking forward to the next “Experiment”!

    Thanks for such great ideas and doing all you do to support families!

  2. Carey Nieuwhof says, October 3, 2010 at 10:33 pm

    We did the experiment today. We had our 14 year old and his friend along. Had a wonderful time eating out in Orillia.

    What surprised us was how much fun the “structured” conversation was. The questions were great, fostered some fun and profound moments as well.

    We decided to do a family night twice a month….maybe a movie or a longer-than-usual dinner. We saw that as a way to increase the quantity of quality time.

    Interestingly, we all agreed that our time in the car these days is really rich and rewarding. You do a lot of driving when you have teenagers…so using that time to build relationships and faith is a great idea.

    Thanks to the family ministry team for a great idea!

  3. Jeff says, October 3, 2010 at 10:37 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing your story Irv and Colleen!

    Glad to hear you had fun, had some opportunity to share over some questions, and even took some steps moving forward! So exciting. Thanks for having the courage to experiment with us–we really appreciate it! By the way, I agree that lasagna’s always better the second day!

  4. Jeff says, October 3, 2010 at 10:56 pm

    Hey that’s great Carey. Glad to hear it was a good time to connect with the students in your family life. You’ve got me thinking about how to use that drive time better in my own family.

  5. Michael Creasor says, October 4, 2010 at 1:22 pm

    My wife and I we’re looking forward to the family experiment, our teenage kids, not so much. But after everything was packed up after church, we gathered around the CD player and listened to the instructions.

    We decided to assign who each person would buy for at the dollar store and get someone to buy for someone they wouldn’t normally shop for (we’re a blended family) so I bought for my step-daughter and my daughter bought for my wife, etc. Once inside the dollar store, everyone scattered in separate directions looking to maximize the buying potential, but trying to make it personal. My daughter had it pretty easy, since my wife loves chocolate so she went off in search of her favourite brands. As I was walking past the cards, I thought maybe I would use this opportunity to have one of those awkward moments that was brought up last week. My step-daughter and I seldom talk about anything meaningful. She was older then the rest of the kids when her mom and I first started dating, so it has likely been the most difficult transition for her to fit into this new family structure. But she has been teaching at a local school for a co-op placement and I have been hearing great things about how wonderful she is doing.

    So I bought her a “Thank You Teacher” card.and inside I wrote that I was proud of how well she had been doing and that I hoped that one day she would receive many of these types of cards from her students when she was a teacher. It gave me the opportunity to acknowledge something that she was doing well, to let her know that I was proud of her (something that neither of us would likely be comfortable with me saying verbally) and allowed me to pass on a message that had more meaning.

    We had a great time eating out for lunch. One of the girls had a friend with her at church and so she played along also. The kids had a good time with the Would You Rather questions and our waiter saw how much fun we were having and so he asked if he could play too!!

    The question about how we could have more family time had some responses such as a winter vacation. My wife suggested that perhaps we could move closer to my work which wasn’t popular with the kids, however, my favourite suggestion came from my youngest “out of the box” thinker who suggested that my work should just move closer to them.

    We all had fun when it came time to get our picture taken together. The waiter came outside and took our picture and then asked “What crazy church do you guys go to?” My wife loves those opportunities to talk to people about church.

    Everyone, including my one daughter’s friend had a great time. My youngest daughter asked, “Can we do another experiment again next week?”

    Thanks for the fun ideas … it was great !!

  6. Jeff says, October 4, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    Glad to hear you had some great interactions Mike! Thanks so much for sharing.

  7. Carrie Neilson says, October 7, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    We did the experiment tonight (Tuesday). It went pretty well consideing i never know how things will turn out with us!

    The kids (Harley 12 and Faith 5) loved going to the dollar store picking out gifts. (I ended up with a sparkly bling purse from Faith hehe). We decided to eat out and had fun answering the questions. I was happy that my husband participated in this as it often just ends up me and the kids doing things by ourselves!

    Faith was a little tired and I had to stop her from rolling around the restaurant (ahhh do I have a 5 yo or a 2 yo?????) but other than that we had fun. It is a really good idea to encourage families to spend that quality time together. Harley said he loved it and he hoped we were going to do it again!!

  8. Paulette says, October 12, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    My children (10 and 8 yrs) and I did the experiment on Thanksgiving Monday (because my husband was away) We improvised because the stores were not open. So we made our gifts or for the boy in our family, he picked something special of his own to give. Which was great to see it wasn’t something he was ready to toss away anyway. And the thought that went into making the perfect small gift for each person.

    We ate leftovers (good thanksgiving leftovers) and made dinner special by using placemats for a change. Not a lot of effort for that part today -considering we eat almost every dinner as a family.

    The best part was the conversations we had. It was neat to see where the things we have been teaching our kids have already sunk deep and become a part of them, ie. self-control and patience, the need for special occasions and priorities and relationships – having a bit of ice-cream rather than the huge bowl once and wanting superpowers rather than Christmas that never ends and putting friends above tv. Loved talking about things we enjoy about our home and family and ways to improve and discovering new things about each other.

    I was impressed at the “initiative” the kids showed in answering the big Q. Some of the things we have been struggling to do with them were the things they said they could now get on board and do to increase our family time. I look forward to lot less conflict to get things done around our home so we can have a lot more time and fun together.

    I don’t normally do this sort of thing with my husband’s participation, but next time I will make sure we do the experiment all together. The kids are even talking about doing it again when he returns from his trip. Thanks Connexus team – it was alot of fun!

  9. Jeff says, October 12, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    Hey Carrie and Paulette,

    So encouraging to hear how things went for your families. We’re excited about what we hear both of your families processing and experiencing together as you look to increase the quantity of quality time you spend together!

    Great idea of a way to use those turkey leftovers Paulette!


  10. Linda says, October 17, 2010 at 1:07 pm

    We did the experiment yesterday. There was tension in the family in the morning…trying to “get things done”. When I saw the kids getting upset, we decided lets do the family experiement. The whole family came together, and it was great.

    After the dollar store (in which I had to stay with my 8 year old son, since he was terrified of the halloween stuff!), we decided to go to Tim Hortons for coffee and donuts. We had so much fun! The structured conversation was great. The kids loved the “would you rather” questions. What surprised me the most, was how my 5 year old really showed love for her brother (8 years old). Considering they fight a lot, and he picks on her “all the time”, I was surprised that she “wished she could get him a race car and a wii, because he likes going fast and is good at wii”. It was really sweet. She didn’t last too much longer, as she got a bit bored. But the other 2 kids loved it and stayed engaged the whole time.

    The most heartwarming moment for me was when my 10 year old daughter said that she wished that her mommy wouldn’t be ill anymore (I’ve suffered with severe depression this last year).

    We also decided that if the kids help out around the house (which was the cause of tension in the morning), we’d have more time to spend as a family. They actually were a great help in the afternoon!

    The funny part was, my 5 year old was a little disappointed because she thought we were going to do a science experiment (“you know, measuring sand or something?”. We explained it was a different kind of experiment. My 10 year old said let’s look at it like all the members of the family are different colours (ie trying to bring “science” into it), and coming together to talk and spend time together, we make a rainbow. I loved it!! We all chose our colours of our family rainbow.

    All the kids asked if we could do this again and again. Fun!! Thanks so much! We look forward to the next one!

  11. Jeff says, October 17, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    Thanks for sharing Linda. It’s so great to hear how the F-XP was a great tool for your family. Sounds like you had lots of fun–I love the science angle!

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