If you’ve ever felt that your family just isn’t on the same page, it’s time to incorporate a weekly family meeting into your schedule. Family meetings can save you time, frustration and that dreaded “you were supposed to pick the kids up from school today” phone call.
Start holding family meetings by implementing a quick connect held each week on the same day. Lorie Marrero, founder of TheClutterDiet , says families are often together in the car on Sundays going to church or dinner; just grab your wall calendar, family planning pad or clipboard and talk on the drive over.
A quick family meeting should cover the basics: what’s on the calendar for the week ahead and what are everyone’s responsibilities.
Once you have gotten into the family meeting habit, Dr. Michele Borba, author of No More Misbehavin’, suggests enhancing the format, with parents assigning and rotating roles—secretary, timekeeper, snack monitor, etc.—so everyone participates. Establish ground rules based on your family. Here are some to get you started:
- Everyone attends
- Everyone listens
- Everyone participates
- No put downs are allowed
- No TV, music, phone or video games during meetings
Create an agenda that includes the key points that you wish to cover. Be sure to have your family calendar and weekly responsibility checklist on hand. And plan some fun; Dr. Borba suggests serving snacks and starting with a compliment circle to acknowledge good things everyone is doing. Close the meeting by repeating action steps that family members need to complete.
Family meetings are among those teachable moments we parents hear about. Dr. Borba says they’re the prime opportunity to teach problem solving and conflict resolution. She suggests creating an agenda box, where anyone can suggest a problem to tackle (sibling rivalry, revising a curfew, chores) then use those for meeting discussions. The majority wins and every vote is the same.
Our Family Meeting Book by Elaine Hightowers and Betsy Riley is a great book. It’s out of print, but you can find used copies on Amazon as well as through your local library. The book includes fifty-two write-in agendas for you to use at weekly meetings throughout the year. Make a copy for each person who attends. It also shows you how you can set and track goals during your meetings.
Hightowers and Riley suggest that parents allow the kids to moderate once meetings are well established, letting each person take a turn at leading the meeting. They also encourage you to include fun activities, such as games, jokes, stories, or songs.
Finally, don’t hesitate to call an emergency meeting. When a crisis strikes, don’t wait until your regularly scheduled date.