What does it take to keep a family running smoothly and peacefully? Well, I don’t have all the answers, but I do have one good suggestion: a weekly Family Meeting.
The goals of the meeting are to help you communicate better, bring everyone closer together and to support one another. A home filled with more love, joy and harmony, now that is just plain SMRT.
It’s a time for making decisions, recognizing positive things happening in the family, setting up rules, distributing chores fairly, settling conflicts, and pointing out individual strengths.
Planning Family Meeting
In the beginning make these meetings more formal so that when you need to conduct them on-the-go a process has already been established.
- Set aside time to be together. You want to really look at your lives. What’s working? What’s not? Begin with an attitude of openness and acceptance rather than one of dominance or control.
- Even if you have a newborn make it a ritual. Who’s doing the feedings? Picking up the diapers? Have the baby present – they grow up so fast and establishing it as a ritual from the beginning is important.
- As soon as children can use words, they can participate. Especially with young children (ages 2 to 6), keep the family meeting as short as 10 to 20 minutes, gradually increasing the time. With older children, decide ahead how much time to allow.
- Many families find it valuable to schedule meetings for the same time and place every week.
- If a formal family meeting does not seem realistic in your family at the present time, work towards having such meeting at a meal, in the car or even during bath time. Use this time to share the day’s happenings and celebrate successes of family members.
Tips for Successful
Try to be consistent with time, place and day of week. (SMRT Favorite: Sunday early evening) But, as we all know, life gets busy. So if you have to meet on the go, we say go for it.
- Keep it upbeat. Talk about the good things that happened during the week. Ask the kids, “what was the funniest that happened?” In a safe environment, family members can express their opinions without punishment or retaliation. Show lots of love.
- Use our SMRT Family Meeting template. It will help you organize your shout-outs and goals from week to week. Outline everyone’s responsibilities. Review each family member’s upcoming intentions and schedule as it relates to the other family members. If the child is old enough, use a sticker chart or even allowance as goals are met.
- Use good problem-solving skills. Identify the specific problem you want to solve and talk about the possible ways to solve it.
- Encourage every member who contributes significantly to the home to join the meeting (nanny, grandparent). Or take good notes to be sent out immediately following meeting. Encourage all family members to participate by stating what they are most grateful for from the following week.
- As mentioned above, take notes throughout. Not only does it help you keep track, but it will help your kids feel validated and realize that what they think…matters.
- Sometimes you need to have more than one family meeting a week. Be ready to hold spontaneous meetings (unexpected work trip arises, kids are fighting – disrespect or discipline needs to be reinforced).
This will encourage everyone to attend and participate. Try watching something special, playing/ dancing to music or a hug/high-five, special treat.