Today we are going to discuss a valuable tool for increasing your family’s happiness and solidarity – the family meeting. In our opinion, making a commitment to gather weekly is one of the most valuable things you can do for your family. In this post I will highlight the benefits of these meetings, and explain what our family does during our meeting time. I will then leave you with some simple tips for making your own family meetings as successful as possible.
Benefits of Family Meetings
There are numerous benefits to holding family meetings. First, they are a wonderful way to teach children important life skills because each meeting affords them the opportunity to practice communicating, problem-solving, cooperating, planning, preparing, organizing, and effectively managing their time.
Family meetings also help nurture a child’s self-confidence by allowing them to feel that their thoughts and opinions are valued by everyone in the family – including you. When you involve children in discussion about things such as the week’s activities, chores, and outings, it reduces the feeling that parents are simply mandating or dictating what and when things will be done. Children are more likely to comply with plans and decisions they feel included in making.
Finally, family meetings are an excellent way to build family unity. Working through problems, coordinating schedules, and dividing responsibilities together serves to confirm for your children that every member of the home helps control the success of your family.
Our Family Meetings
Our family begins every family meeting by discussing the logistics of our week. We tackle the logistics first because they are the most time and thought-consuming. In our home, every family member (kids included) has their own calendar that they bring and fill-in as we go along. As we go through each day of the week, we discuss what activities each person has and we coordinate how everyone will get where they need to go. We also choose who will be cooking dinner each night and what they will be making. This exercise has been especially beneficial for our family. By figuring out meals and logistics ahead of time, we avoid the stress my husband and I would feel if we waited until we were in the chaos of the moment to figure things out. It is much easier to figure these things out in a calm and collaborative environment.
Meals and activities are not the only things we plan in advance. We also discuss and decide on a fun family activity and we make sure to plan for some family down time. Both of these things may seem like they would be automatically included in your week, but it is so easy to completely overlook them when life gets busy. To avoid this, we make sure to take the time to schedule them in. I have noticed that everyone in our family is much happier when we have taken some time to reconnect during a fun activity and we have ensured that everyone has had time to recharge in a way they enjoy during some downtime.
After all the planning is completed we move on to the problem solving section of our meeting. During this time, we invite everyone to share things they may want to discuss and we ask if anyone in the family needs help. We have spent this time discussing all types of topics from ways to address our issue with being tardy to school and ideas for improving our family communication to appeals to revise our screen time policy and a request for help on a difficult rainbow loom project. I have noticed that taking time for this type of connection and communication during our meeting has really helped our children feel supported, taken seriously and included in the problem-solving process.
Tips for successful meetings
- Meet weekly and make it a priority. Let everyone in the family know that you all are committing to consistency with these meetings and that everyone is expected to attend.
- Set a written agenda. This helps you to keep the meetings short and well-organized.
- Remain Realistic. Consider the age and attention span of your child/children and go into your meeting with reasonable expectation of how much they can successfully tolerate. Also, be prepared for chaos from time to time, especially if meetings run a little long or are held at the end of a very busy day.
- When holding meetings with very young children, make some activities available to them to keep their hands busy (i.e. paper and pens for them to draw pictures, a snack, etc.).
- End each meeting with something uplifting and special to your family. Our meeting always ends with a family hug and affirming statement. My sister’s family does a family cheer. Make it fun and something that solidifies your connection to each other.