Me In A Tree

Over the last week, I've been asked to beta-test and try the new online app for organized and harmonious families, Me in a Tree.

The idea behind this website is to help families, not only to get better organized and help them with time management and responsibilities, but also to encourage open communication about the family, its members and how to better function as a healthy unit.

I tested the following features:
  1. Calendar
  2. Family assessment
  3. Family huddle
  4. Family challenge
  5. Pledge stone
  6. Gratitude journal
  7. Duties

1. The Calendar (free)

You can create your own events and activities and get to specify which family member is involved in every event and a colour code will then provide you with a full family calendar that shows what everyone is doing when, and can still easily show the events that only apply to you (your own colour).

Things to do
Based on your location, a list of available activities, places to see, volunteering activities is available to to pick from and add to your family calendar. If you want. You can also create your own and will soon be able to report an activity you judge inappropriate.

The calendar can also be integrated to your Google or Outlook calendar.

2. The Family Assessment

No family is perfect and a family assessment is exactly the kind of analysis that will help you identify in what area you excel and what area needs to be improved on. The idea is to answer as honestly as possible a serie of questions that cover different aspect of your family life, such as: do both parents have a clear and united approach in regards to discipline?  do you give your children a weekly allowance? As the weeks go by, you can always return to the family assessment and see what your new results are and how far you've come along. 
The quiz is not too long and most questions are simple enough to answer. I really liked seeing the areas that need improvement in a bar graph that showed a clear contrast with other areas that are mastered. Unfortunately, my kids are both under the age of 3 so a couple of the questions in the assessment simply didn't apply to our situation. However, I was told there will soon be more assessments added to the list, and some will be better suited to target different age groups. Sweeeeeet!

3. The Family Huddle

What an amazing idea! The family huddle is a weekly activity you can schedule to all sit together and discuss your business of the week, priorities, highs and lows of the week, a fun family topic and get challenged.

Everyone gets a role during the huddle (e.g.: your son might be in charge of making sure people are polite and courteous to one another while your job might be to make sure nobody exceeds their time limit to speak). Then, everyone has a turn to talk for 2, 3 or 5 minutes (your choice) and nobody can interrupt that time. We get to share our highs as well as the lows of the week, and after the timer is over, those unresolved issues go to the "sandbox" which means you get to choose a time that is non confrontational to open it up again (e.g. while driving the kids some place or while playing cards).

To end on a more positive note, random fun family topics can be asked such as "where would you like to go on vacation?" to encourage dialogue and open communication.

The huddle can then be conveniently printed-out for future reference if you so choose.

4. The Family Challenge

Then, every huddle finishes with a new challenge for the week to come. A superhero character challenges the family to stay away from t.v. all week, or skip the candies and chocolate for a week, or spend one hour doing outdoor activities as a family everyday. These challenges are NOT easy! Throughout the week, every family member can confirm if the challenge was a success on that day and get some encouragements to keep up their good work.

5. The Pledge Stone

Is an area where every family member will write down what he thinks makes his family special and cool. What are our strengths as a family? What do I appreciate the most about us? This exercise is done pretty much when we feel like it and on an individual basis. The answers can be kept private to that member or shared to other family members.

Thumbs up! My husband came up with much better ideas than me for this one... I loved reading his thoughts as he would never have otherwise taken the time to say them out loud. :)

6. The Gratitude Journal

This was not a new concept to me as many personal growth book there is probably talks about the power of gratitude. Taking time to consciously be thankful for the positive things you have in life is the best way to attract more positive into your life. Everyday, each family member would log into his gratitude journal and write down 5 things they are grateful for today. Another great habit to introduce your kids to that will stay with them for life.

Another thumbs up!

7. Duties

Truly impressive work here to keep track of duties. When you click on the Duties menu, you get transported into a different universe that feels like a video game. Mom and dad can log into the setup toolbox and create and delegate chores based on recurring schedules or one time specific duties. When the duty is created, they get to attribute the reward attached to completion of this task. Seeds and stars are the 2 reward measure units so for a very big task you could grant 5 stars and 5 seeds while a more basic and daily activity may be granted only 1 of each.

Each family member will see his duties appear on his daily To-do list that he can check as completed. The stars and seeds collected will then be used to grow magic trees and build special constellations based on the category of the tasks that have been accomplished (for example, there could be a constellation to complete with the "hygiene duties".

I'm sure this video game feel will truly appeal to kids and make them want to collect their stars and seeds on their own, hence saving a few vocal chords to mom. Very useful. It's never been so much fun to complete our chores!

Time Management

One aspect I needed to be careful about is time management. Those who know me know how much I love lists and charts and calendars (hello fellow virgoes!) and with a tool like this one, it would be easy for me to spend countless hours sitting in front of my computer everyday "planning my family life" instead of "living it". Many exercises are meant to be done on a daily basis and require a little bit of reflection, so I had to be careful and go against my instinct to have perfect answers in every area, or it would have been a huge time-eater.


A membership with this website will normally cost you about $19/month, but is currently reduced to $9/month for registration before November 30th.

If you have kids from 4 to 12 years old and plan on using the social worker's personal consultations available through the website this can have an amazing value for your family. You can ask your questions and get professional advice included with your membership.

If the price tag is something you just can't afford, you can continue using your family calendar for free with meinatree after your subscription is over. The videos, parenting resources including articles and the forum are also free. 

What you pay for with Me in a Tree is basically the communication aspect of your family. The gratitude, the positive thoughts toward one another, the team challenges, the whole cooperative attitude that is promoted with the use of Me in a Tree is truly what sets this app in a class of its own. It comes with free apps and will work on your tablet. The interface is colourful, fun, user-friendly, interactive and makes use of engaging cartoon characters that talk to you in every area of the site and family member custom avatars. All and all it is an amazing portal to keep as your browser's homepage as you will refer to it often during the day. 


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