The key to a well-run household is effective communication. That’s why family meetings are so beneficial. They help everyone build communication skills, while effectively delegating household responsibilities.
There’s no denying that life with kids can be stressful and, well, downright exhausting. Add in some big events beyond your control, like a pandemic and a recession, and it’s no wonder you’re likely feeling frazzled or burned out.
That’s why we recommend bringing the family together once a week to openly discuss problems, assign chores, and celebrate what’s actually working. By carving out this distraction-free time, your family can focus on building a peaceful community, in which every member is encouraged to thrive.
The reason family meetings are so effective is because that time is dedicated to addressing regular household problems. People tend to respond better to constructive criticism when it’s confined to a focused meeting, rather than being nagged or subjected to constant complaints.
Plus, engaging in regular meetings can teach life skills, like the following:
- Communication: By establishing a distraction-free zone, you encourage all family members to talk and listen more effectively.
- Problem-solving: Perhaps someone is struggling with their homework or misses hanging out with their best friend. This is a time to come together, brainstorm solutions, and support each other as a team.
- Conflict resolution: Family members tend to push each other’s buttons, regardless of whether we’re in a pandemic. That’s why learning positive, healthy ways to resolve quarrels is beneficial for all.
- Setting goals: Feeling stagnant and uninspired? Writing down and sharing ideas with others is a great way to jump-start your goals and ambitions. You can also include accountability in the meeting by creating goal charts and sharing everyone’s progress each week.
- Connecting: It’s sometimes hard to deepen family connections with work, social media, and entertainment getting in the way. Having a tech-free hour every week can really work wonders on improving family bonds.
- Having fun: If you make it a point to keep family meetings fun and lighthearted, your children will look forward to them.
Many families report that arguments and conflicts were reduced after they implemented regular meetings. Give it a try and see if it helps your family find more balance.
Find an Ideal Time
It’s important to include every member of the household in your weekly meetings. This means finding a day and time when everyone will be home. Most importantly, though, you want to make sure everyone can relax during the meeting.
For example, a Sunday evening might be ideal, since it precedes any chaos that might come up during the week. If another time works better for your family, though, just roll with it. As long as you consistently meet for at least an hour each week, you’ll see the benefits in action.
Make sure everyone silences their phones during family meeting time, or, better yet, turn off the Wi-Fi altogether. Meet in a quiet place with minimal distractions and set out some snacks so hunger won’t be an issue.
Create an Agenda
We suggest following a general format for every meeting, so your kids will know what to expect.
Here’s an example agenda:
- Opening: Have a special way of starting the meeting, such as reading a poem or quote. Another option is to have a “show and tell” portion. Let everyone share something special from the previous week, like a piece of artwork they created, an assignment they got a good grade on, good news from work, and so on.
- Appreciation: Take a few minutes to point out how someone excelled in the past week. Offer rewards stickers, stamps, or whatever motivates your family.
- Address any problems or conflicts: Every family argues sometimes—it’s just part of living with other people. Try to avoid the blame game. Instead, write down the issues and spend the time trying to come up with constructive solutions.
- Chores: If your kids aren’t doing chores, it’s time to rethink your family’s system! Chores should be equally distributed, so one person isn’t stuck carrying the burden of the entire household. Here are five chores you can start delegating to your kids. You can create a chore chart or board, or use an app to keep everyone on track.
- Meals: Menu planning ensures your family is getting a variety of well-balanced, healthy, and nutritious foods. Involve the whole family in selecting the week’s meals, as well as determining who will cook each night. And don’t forget about dessert!
- Activities: Have each family member come up with a fun activity for the week, such as a movie or game night, or a hike.
- A positive ending: Try to end the meeting doing something enjoyable, such as reading a book together, indulging in a dessert, or working on a craft. The more positive you keep the meetings, the more excited your kids will be when the next one rolls around.
Definitely tweak the agenda to suit your family’s needs. Try your best to limit them to around an hour—there’s nothing worse than a long, boring meeting.
Allow Your Kids to Be Heard
It’s important to create an open, nonjudgmental, positive space during your family meetings. Every member of your household should feel comfortable sharing his opinions, ideas, or struggles.
Try to avoid one adult consistently taking charge of every meeting. Instead, try rotating the meeting’s leader each week, so your kids get the chance to be in charge. Not only will they love this, but it’ll help strengthen their speaking and leadership skills.
The goal is to make your children feel like they’re equals within the family. Allow them to take an active part in creating solutions by asking their opinions.
Furthermore, have your children write up a list of household rules. You can then add your own ideas and tweak the list. Involving them in the process will make them feel responsible, mature, and self-sufficient, which is what every parent wants for their children.
Businesses hold regular meetings to keep everything running as smoothly as possible. It only makes sense that families should do so, too. And it’s never too early to start scheduling regular family meetings—even if your kids are still babies.