From the time my daughter was old enough to take part in them, we held family meetings on a regular basis. These meetings were not only fun, but they taught some important skills and helped us work together as a team.
We would post a blank agenda on the fridge along with a pen and throughout the week, we’d have the opportunity to add items that we felt needed discussion to it. We took turns in the different meeting roles – as the one running the meeting or as the secretary.
We weren’t super strict about these meetings – no parliamentary procedure or anything – but we did allow the person running the meeting to come up with their own ways of maintaining order, keeping us on topic, and keeping things moving along.
It may seem funny to you that being a single mom with one child that we would have an actual meeting. First of all, I found that formalizing it by calling a meeting helped us to really take care of the issues properly.
Secondly, at times we had some long term house guests, for a while my mom lived with us, and at one point, we had a live in nanny. All of these people were included in the family meetings.
In our meetings we would discuss things like our upcoming schedules so that we could coordinate them, requests for certain meals to be added to the coming week’s menu plan, ideas for family vacations, who was doing what chores next week, and any issues that needed to be resolved.
We would also iron out things that were bugging us and come up with ideas for rules and appropriate consequences for breaking them. We did lots of brainstorming about these issues and lots of listening. It didn’t always prevent the problems from cropping up again, but it did help us all feel like we were being heard and being treated with respect.
At the end of each meeting, we’d decide on what kinds of activities we wanted to do as our activity for the next family night and what snacks we wanted to serve. Sometimes during a meeting, we’d do something like letter writing to family who live far away or working on something for a charity (like making teddy bears for the police department or little table favours for the hospital).
The meetings were a good mix of business and fun. They were a big help in keeping us organized and a great way to air our grievances and make amends for them. Because it was all handled in a business like manner at the meeting rather than in the heat of the moment, it was less emotional so there were much fewer hurt feelings.
Have you ever tried having a family meeting with your family? How did it work out? Any suggestions that you’d like to pass along to others who might be thinking about trying it?