This article’s timing may seem interesting given most of us have been spending a lot of extra time with our families throughout quarantine and the Covid-19 pandemic.
It certainly feels interesting to be writing about family meetings when some days it feels like I have had my fill of family time (not that you can have too much family time, but I think you know what I mean).
Even when you are spending a lot of time with your family, a scheduled family meeting can be a positive experience that helps each family member be a valued and contributing part of the whole.
Meeting for 20 to 30 minutes each week can help your family stay connected, work as a team, and keep your family calendar from veering out of control.
Plus, you’ll each get a chance to work on something that I like to call, empathy muscles. You strengthen your empathy muscles through gaining a deeper understanding of each other by making time each week to share your joys and sorrows, swap chores and responsibilities, and reflect on how your family life is going.
Regular family meetings will help your school-aged children understand family commitments and values, learn problem-solving skills, and strengthen those empathy-muscles. These meetings can also be a powerful tool for allowing teenagers to grow and take on new responsibilities as they desire to become a bigger part of their world at home and at school.
Here are a few suggestions to have a fun and successful family meeting:
1. Be organized.
Have an agenda. Outlining what you are going to discuss during your meeting is extremely helpful in keeping everyone on track. For example, you can talk about:
-Highs and lows of the day and/or week
-School and extracurricular schedules
-Chores and other family contributions
-Review minutes from last week’s meeting
-What’s for supper (menu suggestions for the week, assigning turns cooking the meal)
-Who needs more support this week
-New business (i.e. tossing around family vacation ideas)
2. Be Brief.
30 minutes or less is a great goal for these meetings, and having an agenda is a great way to meet this goal!
3. Share the Leadership Role.
Switch who leads the meeting each week. This may feel risky and like it could be inefficient, but sharing the leadership power will be beneficial. We learn to be an effective leader by leading, so this will be a good opportunity for each member of your family to practice.
4. Make it Fun!
You can end the meeting by playing a game or serving dessert. If you are leading the meeting, then you can bring a joke to share. You can also let the leader that week make the choice to donate $20 or more to a local charity, and then tell the family about their decision. Whatever you may choose, bringing lightheartedness into the meeting will make it more enjoyable.
5. Build a Tradition with how you Open and Close the Meetings.
You could start and end the meeting with prayer, silence, singing, or a group cheer!
During the times we find ourselves in, adding something new to your family routine can have a very positive impact. You may have to let go of something in your schedule to allow time for the meeting, but it has been my experience that making time to meet as a family is well worth sacrificing another aspect of your schedule. Plus, this could perhaps provide the opportunity to cut down on screen time, which could be a win-win!