It’s almost back-to-school, an exciting time because kids are growing, seasons are changing, and I’m about to have three kids in school all day for the first time. Huzzah!
Each fall, the dramatic return to daily schedules feels like a blessing and curse. The kids are happily occupied for a chunk of the day (yay!) but I miss the kids and the freedom of summer (sigh). We begin relying heavily on shared calendars to keep up with all the work, school, and other life activities. For my family, one key to staying sane during the insanity of life is holding regular family meetings.
Here are three elements to implementing successful family meetings into your life:
Ad-hoc meetings are fine and sometimes necessary, but I’m going through our calendar now and putting a family meeting at the beginning of every month on a Sunday evening.
Each individual knows they can call a meeting anytime. For instance, if one child won’t stop breaking another child’s Lego creations, the victimized child might march into the kitchen, arm raised high yelling “FAMILY MEETING!” Hypothetically speaking, of course. We meet later that night, giving all family members a chance to submit agenda items.
Set an Agenda
Remind everyone early in the day there’s a family meeting that night, so each individual can brainstorm agenda items. Everyone contributes to setting the agenda at the beginning of the meeting and meetings typically lasts about 30 minutes (if you can get young kids to sit through a meeting longer than that, you are amazing).
Agenda items can be anything valued by your family members. I often add agenda items regarding shared household responsibilities. Online chore-by-age charts show which responsibilities kids can handle by what age, so the kids are always switching up what they help out with around the house. The kids add agenda items like “I want my own room,” etc, and we discuss whether we want to continue pursuing certain commitments together. We also tackle difficult neighborhood or school relationships and how to deal with them. Whatever the fam wants to discuss, we talk about it until attention spans dissolve and someone starts wrestling someone else.
Look back and look ahead
We don’t have a family motto or anything, but this year I’m trying to be more intentional with the kids and our discussions. What went well this last month? What can we do better? Are we over-committed? Who are we serving? Who do we want to see more of? What are our goals? In essence, how are we doing?
When our family feels pulled in every direction at once, regular family meetings keep us on the same page, connected and communicating.