Does the idea of holding a family meeting seem a little corporate and well, a little Brady Bunch to you?
That’s certainly how I felt when I first read about the idea.
Family meetings? That’s a little formal. Surely we can just work things out on the fly?
But as they say, nothing tried, nothing gained, so we gave the whole family meeting idea a burl and were pleasantly surprised with the results.
The kids really got into it. Even my two year old contributed to the meeting – our expectation was she would get bored and wander off. Instead, when we were planning activities for the upcoming week, she said she would like to do singing and dancing in the mornings.
We’ve now incorporated dancing into our morning routine, Justine Clarke style.
Even Frugal Dad got into the swing of things when, in ‘other items’ my four year old son suggested daddy should be allowed to have a sleep in on Saturdays. Frugal Dad was pretty quick to second that motion (although he swears he didn’t put the little fella up to it).
Why have a family meeting?
All too often, families live more like flatmates – ships that pass during busy schedules.
A family meeting is an opportunity to bring everyone in the family together intentionally and regularly.
If you’ve never held a family meeting, try it for yourself and see how it improves your home life.
Benefits of holding regular family meetings
Depending on what you do during your family meeting, the benefits of holding regular meetings include:
- Strengthened connection between family members.
- An opportunity to reinforce family values and culture. You can use the time to instil important family principles.
- An opportunity to work through issues at a time when everyone is calm rather than in the heat of the moment.
- A time to help your kids learn to problem solve and grow responsibility.
- An opportunity to delegate tasks.
- An opportunity to help siblings work together.
- An opportunity to teach specific skills like budgeting by discussing the family budget.
- An opportunity to sync schedules, get organised and reduce household stress.
- Meetings develop communications and interpersonal skills including: listening, planning, conflict resolution, cooperation, negotiation, compromise, public speaking, organisation and chairing meetings.
- Kids are more likely to cooperate if they have a say in the running of the household.
What’s on the agenda? what to include in your family meeting
Of course, you can run your family meeting however you and your family like and include whatever you need to on your agenda.
And it’s important to remember that your meetings will change and evolve as your family grows and the kids grow older.
But if you’re looking for some ideas, here’s a helpful structure that you can pick and choose from to create a meeting that suits your situation. You don’t need to include all of these in your family meeting, the suggestions are to inspire:
- Meeting opening – give thanks, light a candle etc.
- Teaching time. Here you can review family values or household rules, talk about current events, talk about something each person has learned this week, teach manners, discuss ethical quandaries.
- Compliments / Appreciation or review of the week. It can be a nice way to start by each person saying what they appreciated of the other family members during the week.
- Discuss issues that have arisen during the week and brainstorm solutions.
- Discuss money stuff – distribute pocket money, discuss upcoming expenses (school needs, etc.).
- Ask if anyone needs help with something.
- Share plans.
- Plan your calendar for upcoming week / sync calendars
- Have a family fun activity to finish it off. This could be a fun dessert, an outing, a movie, a board game, a game of cricket – whatever it is you like to do to have fun.
This was the agenda for our first family meeting:
- Re-evaluating screen time limits and agree on TV times.
- Chores – re-evaluating and assigning chores for the kids as well as appropriate consequences for not doing chores (I purposefully put screen times first because it lead nicely to a no chores, no TV consequence).
- Planning activities for the upcoming week.
- Other items.
tips for family meetings
Keep it short. Especially if you have young kids. Our meetings go for less than 10 minutes and that was long enough. We hold ours in the morning after Sunday breakfast when everyone was fresh.
Be flexible. Some weeks you might focus on issues that have arisen while other weeks you might have none.
Have a low expectation. Young kids will get bored quickly, toddlers will run off. That’s ok.
Agree on ground rules for running your family meeting such as every body takes turns talking and no one talks over the other person etc.
Put up an agenda on the fridge an encourage all family members to add items as they arise during the week. You might want to make suggestions or encouragements to kids to get them thinking about the family meeting routine. It won’t be long before they start reminding you!
Strive for consensus, something that everyone agrees on.
Take turns with the roles of chairperson and minute writer.
Put up what you agreed to (like household rules, chore charts, calendars etc.) so that everyone can see and be reminded of what was agreed to.
Experiment with location. You don’t have to have a family meeting sitting around the kitchen table. Take it outside, have it in a restaurant – whatever works for you.
Regular family meetings, while seemingly a little formal, are a surprisingly good way to strengthen the family bond, work through issues that arise at home and reinforce family values.