The Beauty of the Family Meeting (Part 2)

In my last post, I tried to stress the importance of families working together as a unit. Today we're going to focus on one of the most useful aids that families have at their disposal to help bring this about — the family meeting.

Let's get down to basics. What is a family meeting and what is it for? Well, a family meeting is a routine appointment that you keep with your family wherein you talk, plan, and dream together for the purpose of pursuing and achieving common goals. It's really very simple.

Now let's look at 5 things that make for successful family meetings. Each of these characteristics have made our meetings more useful and enjoyable. Our day just isn't the same when we miss one!

Your meetings need to be routine.

There are lots of different ways you could go about this but the important point is that you're consistent! You could meet once a month, once a week, or every day but be sure to keep your appointments! We try to meet every day at 9 AM (excepting Sundays) and we've found that this is a great way to start to our day as a family. I work from home, so I know 9 AM isn't feasible for many families, but every one can find time to regularly come together. It might be every Friday evening or the first Monday of the month. You could even hold your family meeting at each evening meal. 
By making your meetings routine you're sending a message that you're serious about working together. If you have to, put it on the calendar like you would any other appointment and stick to it!

Keep your meetings short(ish).

This really depends on the frequency of your meetings, but as a general rule, the more often you have them, the shorter they should be. If they get too long they can start to conflict with other activities and before long they can become a nuisance. Since our family meets almost daily, we try to keep our meetings to no longer than 10 to 15 minutes. Of course, if we need to we can go longer, but that's usually enough time for us to line out our day and get everyone on the same page. However, if your family meeting is held once a month, you might want to meet anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. The point is, you don't want to spend too much time talking about things; you want to get out there and get to doing!

Get your children involved in your meetings.

Even if you're just lining out your child's day, don't let them feel like they're not important to the work of your family. Family meetings are a great time to praise your children or to address some areas that might need attention. We make it a point to review our children's Character Badges charts every morning. This allows us to recognize their good behavior from the previous day and to award any badges they might have earned. It also allows us to look at their Disobedience Chart and to address any consequences that need to be handed out due to misbehavior. The consistency of this review has really helped our home to run more smoothly during the day.  

Your meetings need to have a head.

Someone's got to do it. Family meetings with rambunctious little ones can get out of hand pretty quickly (ask me how I know). Having someone lead helps to keep the meeting focused and more concise. If you allow everyone to talk about whatever they want it will quickly derail the purpose of your meeting. It will also will make them longer than they need to be and they'll start to lose their usefulness.

Your meetings should set and work towards common goals.

This is so important and certainly one of the most engaging things about family meetings. You need to allow yourselves to dream together (great family meeting topic by the way — "What do you hope to accomplish in the next 10 years?"). Talk about your hopes and aspirations in such a way that it draws your children in and actually makes them feel as if they're an integral part of them. Let your children talk about their dreams too. Then, get down to setting some goals for the whole family to work towards. It could be a big goal or a series of little goals but be sure to pick something attainable and exciting! Every time you meet, give an update on your progress and talk about what needs to be done next to move the family closer to achieving your goals!

These are just a few things that can help to make your family meetings successful. Be sure to give yourself room to grow and time to improve. Your initial meetings will most likely feel like a failure - I know ours did. When I announced our first meeting, everyone let out a collective groan! We've stuck with it though and today when I announce one, no kidding, the children actually cheer. Just set a vision, be consistent, and have fun!