As I was telling you about Positive Discipline, I mentioned that we started doing family meetings, and a lot of you were very interested. I hope this gives you the push you need to start your own family meetings!! I'm a big believer in them - when they're done right (which we're always tweaking).
Family Meeting Agenda
Every meeting requires an agenda. Whoever is the "conductor" writes out the agenda and assigns roles to each of the family members.
Opening Prayer - This is pretty self-explanatory. Even Isaac (2 1/2) can do this.
Song - Even if you're not a musical family, you can do this. We just sing one or two verses of a favorite song. This seems like it wouldn't serve much of a purpose, but it actually really works well to build unity and sets the meeting apart as something special - special enough to sing a song at. I'm looking forward to when they get older and can play instruments!
Lesson - This is typically taught by me or Michael and only lasts about 5 minutes. (Toddlers are encouraged to go play at this point.) Topics have typically been things having to do with house rules and whatnot. Samuel (7) actually wanted to teach a lesson once on having family nights. He wanted to reimplement them into our routine and told us what they should look like. He loved getting to do it.
Calendar - I always handle this. We just go through the week and talk about what's going on, what's needed to keep all of our commitments, etc.
Air of Grievances - This is everyone's favorite part and quite possibly the most important portion of the meeting. Everyone gets a chance to say what they're not happy about or what's not working. It's great because the emotions are not high so we're actually focused on solutions. No one's a victim; everyone's a team player. Oh AND, when the conductor announces this part of the meeting, he has to use a British accent and say it as if we're about to see a performance at Medieval Times.
Encouragements - We added this in later, so it's not on the above agenda. We go around the table, and each person gives a brief encouragement to every person, even themselves!
Closing Prayer - You get it.
Refreshments - This is non-negotiable. The kids so look forward to this, even if it's just popcorn or smoothies.
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Some ways to
(Seriously, it's gonna suck if you don't let them take ownership, and they'll hate it.)
Let them announce it. My kids like to go up to the top of the stairs, preferably with a paper towel roll, and holler, "FAMILY MEETING TIME!!!!!" so that everyone knows to go to the dining room.
Let them create the agenda. We definitely help them with it, but they write it out and give input.
Let them lead it. You'll be tempted to let them "lead" it (only in quotes), but then you really do it. But don't! Really let them lead it. A gentle reminder to keep it serious is fine, but only do it so as to remind them of the big responsibility that you're entrusting to them.
Keep it super formal. Make sure the conductor thanks each person that speaks. Each person with a role thanks for the conductor for the floor. Stuff like that. They love it. :) Our time in Toastmasters helped us out with that, but you can also google meeting etiquette.
Have it weekly. We have our meeting every Sunday - even when we're crazy busy. If we start skipping it, then it totally loses it's power. Consistency is totally important.
So that's that! It might seem daunting at first, but it's really not. It takes almost no time to prepare for it. Sure, it's better when you prepare well for it (and you likely will the first few times). But if it comes down to not doing it or just poorly planning for it, then just do it poorly planned.
Having a family meeting communicates to your family that they're important, that you care what they think, and that you're a team.
What about you? Do you have a family meeting? Would you add anything to our agenda for your own meeting?