Busy busy busy. Everyone seems to be so busy this time of year. I mean, it’s not just us, right? Between all the activities that back-to-school brings (not to mention homeschooling itself), practices and games for the kids’ fall sports, and I don’t even know what else, I’ve been feeling like every hour of my day is claimed — sometimes twice. And with my husband likewise in a busy season at work, accommodating everyone’s schedules can start to be a fancy feat.
Fortunately, we’ve found a way to help us cope.
The intelligent businessman that he is, my husband had the idea some time ago to start calling a family meeting once a week. Let’s face it — in the hubbub of busy schedules, communication doesn’t always happen well unless you do it on purpose. The idea of holding a business meeting for the family may sound odd at first; but just like a company doesn’t operate effectively when its employees aren’t all up to speed, so a family doesn’t function well when its members are disconnected.
In a culture where busyness is the norm for most families, we’ve made an effort to do business with ours.
The Family Meeting: What It Looks Like
Every Sunday night, we gather in the living room, me with the family calendar and my husband with his work calendar. Mom and dad run the meeting, but everyone is expected to participate.
The first topic of discussion is always the schedule. I review with everyone what’s on my calendar (which is also the kids’ calendar) for the upcoming week, and my husband shares what’s on his. Because I have Mommy Brain and will immediately forget what his week holds, I have him write down for me the time he expects to be home each night (which varies due to the nature of his work).
Next, we like to spend a little time reflecting on the past week. Not only is this a good time of sharing, but it helps us to take the “temperature” of the family, too. We typically start with asking everyone questions such as
- What was the highlight of the week for you?
- How do you feel school went this week?
- Have things been going well with your friends?
- Is there anything you want to share with us?
Our goal is for this to be a safe setting for our kids to talk freely (but still respectfully). This communicates to them that we care, and it also gives us a better idea of what’s going on in their little hearts and minds.
We all know that unwanted behaviors or unfortunate incidents can and do crop up in our families. While these are usually addressed privately with the party involved, they are sometimes appropriately discussed as a group. For us, the family meeting is a good environment to talk and teach though such issues.
This portion of the family meeting looks different from week to week, but whatever it is we’re discussing, everyone gets a say. Whether we’re setting goals, casting a vision, or making a plan, we want to hear what each has to offer. Our family is a team; we have to function as a unit. While mom and dad are the leaders, we’re all on this journey together. Planning cooperatively helps us to build our team.
The Family Meeting: Why It’s Important
The family meeting has become an essential piece of our weekly routine both for the realistic purpose of operating well and for the intentional purpose of keeping the communication lines open. We want our kids to always know they can come to us with anything, feeling sure that we will be with them in celebrating the good and in working through the bad. We want to model before them a healthy type of transparent humility where confession, repentance, and forgiveness is the norm, where love and laughter abound, and where hearts are handled with care.