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We decided a few months ago to test the waters with a family meeting once a week.
Our kids are now 10, 7, 3 and 1. Of course the toddlers don’t really participate, except with the interjections of oh spilling water or throwing crackers. The older kids are getting to an age where so much is going on, it’s hard to keep track of it all. Add in new chores and allowance – we thought it was a good idea to all come together, with a focus on our family once a week to figure out the “state of our family”.
My husband is a programmer and does agile programming. He could explain it better and it’s way too complex to go into here, it gives me a headache but the basis-is is that you adapt as you go. I have used the idea of it with a previous team I ran, and after watching Agile Programming for Families TED talk – decided this is how we would run our family meetings. Geeky? Why yes – have you met us? Psst.. it works. Keep reading….
So here’s the run down. The basis is we’re really trying to encourage the kids to participate. We tell the what – and they are to figure out the how. This is how we run the family meetings. Everyone gets a say, we try to keep the love and peace and kill blame as we’re in resolution mode during this time.
I told you we were geeks. Yes, I have made a family meeting template to help with the flow of the meetings. I have a handy dandy (and adorable) clipboard that hangs where everyone can see the notes from the meeting. BONUS: the family meeting agenda template has a calendar for the week on it so everyone knows whats up. No excuses people, it’s on the wall.
We start with the positive.
What was good this week. Everyone has a turn and no topic is off limits. One week we had a comment “Izaiah peed in the potty!” yes, that is a HUGE good. Sean and I use our positives for the kids behavior with chores and each other.
After talking about the good, we talk about what needs improvement – the stuff that didn’t work so well or stuff that we need to address. In our house, frequent “Needs Improvements” in our family meeting include: LAUNDRY (kill me, please), fighting, sneaking on the computer, staying up all night…. You get the drift.
After everything has been addressed that needs improvement we encourage the kids to tell us how they want to improve these items. They’ve come up with some pretty creative ideas and again – we are empowering them with the responsibility to make decisions and have a voice.
4 kids, our lives are insane. While yes, we use Google calendar – there ALWAYS is SOMETHING, okay a lot that is missed. And what better time to lay out everyone’s plans for the week than during the family meeting!
Here is where I keep action items. These are primarily things for me and the husband – because we too take part in the discussion. Like this week, we need our a/c tuned-up and also need our daughter’s shower fixed. This family meeting thing keeps us ALL in check, my husband and self included.
We have designated Sundays as family meeting days, though several weeks it’s been Tuesday or Wednesday because I’m so not consistent and crap happens. Sunday works well for us, we do it right after dinner and before getting ready for the week ahead. We also give out allowances at this time as well, so the kids look forward to the meeting.
While I adore my kids, with 4 – and working from home, my head gets clogged with the chaos. My kids love family meeting time (and remind us oh so nicely anytime we slack and forget). The time together gives us some downtime to really think about direction of where we are going. Plus, this is a great introduction to real life.
Meetings are a must in the corporate world. Decision making is a must, well everyday. Teaching these things along with the plethora of other skills these family meetings teach will help our kids flourish.
I always hate to think about it, as these kids are my babies… but my job is to raise each to be good people who can survive and succeed in the real world.
Make sure to watch Bruce Feiler’s Ted video on Agile Programming for Families – it was a huge AW-HA for us. While we don’t run our meetings exactly like he runs his, we make it work for us. Isn’t that the secret to parenting? Take an idea, adapt and make it work for you. Wait – isn’t that anything in life.
Do You Run Meetings With Your Family?