Did you have a jam-packed month and need to make sure everyone is on the same page? Or maybe a sibling felt left out because they didn’t get a say in what movie to pick? Perhaps you need some input on what to make for dinner next week. All of these problems can be solved with family meetings!
Family Meeting: Why They’re Important & How to Have Great Family Meetings
Family meetings help to de-stress, create a plan for the week, establish clear communication, and strengthen family relationships. If you have quiet kids or a difficult teen, this may be your opportunity to open things up!
Family conversation cards are a wonderful tool to help break the ice and keep things light during a family meeting, too!
So…What exactly are family meetings?
This is a moment where everyone in the family (parents, children, nanny, or even grandparents… whoever is around often) meets to discuss the past week or month. This time together can be about discussing a particular issue that is affecting everyone or plan ahead to prevent future problems.
The trick is to make it fun!
All parents know that no matter how many littles you have, things quickly get hectic. Managing work, meals, playdates, school, and extracurricular activities practically requires a superhuman. Isn’t that the best way to describe parents?
A family meeting helps to alleviate the stress and sets an intentional time for everyone to be together.
You may think scheduling family meetings are a tad bit dorky, but hear me out! You can be surprised at all of the benefits. And, by making sitting down and talking a regular thing, it no longer becomes a big deal to discuss the hard stuff!
Why Are Family Meetings Important?
While family meetings are super handy to get everything organized for the week or month ahead, they are so much more than coordinating. Family meetings help to:
- Strengthen family relationships. Getting everyone involved in decision-making and spending quality time together encourages good family life.
- Practice communication. Learning to speak about your feelings and concerns in a thoughtful way is a difficult but important skill to learn.
- Encourage teamwork. Families are interdependent on one another. Children need to learn that they are not alone and that their actions can affect everyone.
- Offer a moment of reflection. Kids can learn to not only think about their feelings on a deeper level but also see the perspective of the whole family.
- Increase confidence. If everyone has a voice, they feel valued and heard. This helps to raise their overall confidence and self-esteem.
- Teach problem-solving skills. Learning to see issues from multiple sides allows kids to learn how to compromise and practice tolerance.
- Set goals. Planning ahead even a little bit has kids looking towards their future and teaches them to prepare for what’s coming.
- Promote stress-free living. Eliminating stress by planning ahead and creating an open and safe space keeps everyone that much happier.
How To Start A Family Meeting
Getting started is the hardest part, especially if you have older children who don’t want any more family time than necessary or littles who have a two-second attention span. Take everything mentioned as a suggestion only – they are simply ideas to get you started on making family meetings.
I highly recommend finding a structure that works for your family.
Ease In and Go Light to Lead
Don’t get into the heavy stuff first. Start off with your own little ritual. This can mean anything from enjoying a snack first to playing a quick game together to stating a fun fact. Family conversation cards are a fun ice-breaker and keep things light during a family meeting.
Say A Moment Of Thanks
To make everyone feel appreciated, it’s nice to let everyone say a moment of thanks to another family member. As a parent, this helps you to notice things you may have not seen or to learn about what your child considers important.
Parents should say something for each family member – no favorites here!
Find The Right Time For Family Meetings
First of all, figure out how often you would like to host a family meeting. This can be weekly, bi-monthly, monthly, etc. This can fluctuate based on the family’s needs. For instance, summer may not need weekly meetings, but in September, when school and activities startup, they might need to be more frequent.
Some like making it part of the family routine, with a scheduled time and day. Others prefer to hold them impromptu whenever the need for one arises. Either way, make sure you have enough time where it won’t feel rushed, and everyone can truly enjoy their time together.
Everyone should be there to participate!
Foster Positivity for Everyone in the Family Meeting
This one is important. In order for family members to share their concerns and personal issues, they must feel safe to do so. If a child doesn’t feel seen and heard, they will stay quiet. Take time to listen and truly reflect on what is being said so everyone can safely express their feelings.
What Do You Discuss At Family Meetings?
Once you’ve had your opening ceremonies (or cookies) and everyone is feeling warm and fuzzy, it’s time to get into the thick of it. Remember, try to keep the mood light and positive as you navigate towards the important topics at hand.
Week (Or Month) In Review
When I say a week, I mean anything that has happened since your last scheduled meeting. Give everyone a moment to talk about what happened during that time and how it went. This can mean:
- finishing a book
- taking a test they’ve been studying for
- Or, something along the lines of drawing a picture they’re really proud of
While discussing the week, chances are both good and bad things will come up. When you talk about what worked and what didn’t, you naturally bring up topics your kids are having issues with. After everyone finishes speaking about their week, ask if anyone has something else they would like to bring up.
What can change for the upcoming week that will be better for everyone?
Once everything has been aired out, it’s time to pull out the planning shoes. Ask everyone what they have going on next week and what they need. This can be anything from a ride to a friend’s house or a new pair of shoes for soccer. Also, take some time to plan out everyone’s activities, potential meals for the week, and where the parents need to be during all of this.
End Family Meetings On A High
Once the meeting is over, don’t say goodbye just yet! Since everyone is already together and theoretically has nothing planned, end the family time together with a fun activity. It’s even more fun for the kids if everyone takes turns to pick out this activity.
Think of activities like baking together, going on a bike ride, playing a board game, watching a movie, etc.
Tips For A Successful Family Meeting
- Take turns talking and listening. You or your partner don’t need to lead the meeting every time. By taking turns on who is asking the questions, you are encouraging your child to get even more involved. If your child feels less than enthused about leading the meeting, consider adding an incentive such as an allowance boost, extra screen time, late bedtime, etc., so they feel more inclined to prepare and lead the meeting.
- Change up meeting spaces. You don’t need to gather around the kitchen table or living room to hold the meeting. Try making it less formal by cooking dinner while you speak, play video games, go out for a picnic, etc. Meet your kid in the middle if they don’t like the idea of a family meeting.
- Take notes. It may seem silly, but you would be surprised how much ground you cover at these meetings. Ensure nothing gets forgotten by selecting a dedicated note keeper every meeting to keep goals, plans, and important topics written down.
- Create some rules. In order to create a safe space, establishing some rules right away will keep family meetings in check. Rules such as everyone gets a chance to speak, no interrupting, no putting down other family members, and respecting opinions are a good place to start.
- Keep it short. Kids won’t want to participate in a family meeting if they know it means sitting for an hour talking. While you shouldn’t rush anything, don’t try to stretch it out. Save the time for the fun activity afterward.
Give family meetings a try and see how much of a difference it makes in relieving stress and creating stronger family ties. A few short moments together can go a long way!