By now we’re settled into full swing of the September – June routine.
As a family we started a habit over the summer, Sunday evening Family Meetings. With “my” business turning into a family business the origin was to sit down and review the upcoming week. In a few short weeks this planning session has turned into wonderful time we spend together. Everyone will admit how busy days are. Everyone has needs and just as with any successful corporation, communication is key. Communication beyond the “how was school?”, “is there any homework?” Family meetings help busy families stay connected. Other benefits of this simple tool are improved communication, self-esteem, emotional support and problem solving.
Here are some guidelines to facilitate one:
- Parents decide together to begin holding family meetings.
- Tell children that you will begin holding family meetings to talk about what’s going on in everyone’s life.
- Gather in the same spot every week.
- Mom and Dad should be the co-moderators for meetings at the beginning. Share the moderator duties with children as you go along.
- At the first meeting encourage everyone to contribute to the conversation, listen to others, and be supportive not critical. If some are shy, that’s fine. They will contribute when their comfortable
- Use the “Go Around” method. Go around the circle giving each family member the opportunity to respond to the topic.
- Go Around Topic 1 – Something that made you feel good this week.
- Parents offer praise, encouragement, and support for the good things that each person mentions.
- Go Around Topic 2 – Something that bothered you this week.
- Parents listen for and acknowledge the feelings that are expressed, ask open-ended questions to clarify the problem, then brainstorm solutions with the entire family.
- Go Around Topic 3 – Something that you want to work on or accomplish next week.
- Parents model making an action plan and help children set a specific goal to continue positive experiences or address problems identified this week.
- Go Around Topic 4 – Your schedule for the week. What meetings, appointments, tests, special events or projects you have this week.
- Parents identify any scheduling conflicts and individual responsibilities necessitated by the week’s schedule. Plan your week. Teach good time management.
- ALL devices (cell phones and computers) are turned off and left out of the area
- Set a scheduled time for meetings, post it where everyone will see, and keep the time. If parents are committed to the project, it will have more impact. Have everyone bring their calendar or a mental note of what they have for the upcoming week.
- Make the meetings fun too. Tell a story or a joke, play games, have contests.
If done regularly these should take no longer than 30 minutes. There have been times when even our Sunday evenings have been busy. The kids now make certain that even if its 9pm we have this time together.
We all see how fast time flies, slow down enjoy this time together in health and happiness.