Bringing ourselves to focus on what we want, making our expectations explicit, can help every family member come to a shared understanding about family chores, activities, highs, and lows. A simple family meeting gives you structure to make common ground happen.
Over the past few months I’ve considered how mindfulness helps us as individuals, as parents, in teaching our children, and in our marriages or partnerships.
I find that meeting new ideas tends to be easier than integrating those new ideas into the fabric of life. So, now I’m sharing with you how my family is pulling mindfulness into our routines.
We’ve held family meetings on and off since my children were about 5-8 years old. It’s like meditation—you wander then you return. No judgment, just return.
We’re returning again, this time with a structure I picked up from Marcia Naomi Berger’s Marriage Meetings for Lasting Love: 30 Minutes a Week to the Relationship You’ve Always Wanted (2014).
Family Meeting Agenda
We are in week three of marriage meetings, which we started to celebrate our 20th anniversary, and in week two of family meetings. This is the easy part, though.
Marcia Berger suggests that you start with easy topics as you ease into the routine of meetings. I understand that. It’s a good idea to start with a guaranteed win before tackling the big issues.
The agenda for each meeting is the same:
- Expressing appreciation
- Coordinating chores
- Planning for good times
- Addressing problems and challenges
For more explanation of the four parts of the meeting agenda, I recommend you read Marriage Meetings. It has certainly helped my family.
Scheduling Family Meetings
She suggests a marriage meeting of no more than 30 minutes. Since we have four people in the family meeting, we have given 45 minutes.
To keep the meeting-ness of this time together from being overwhelming, we are scheduling marriage meetings on Sunday, game night on Monday, and family meetings on Tuesday. We just have a short commitment each evening, then we are free to be together or apart as usual.
Younger children are more likely to to follow your lead. I didn’t have any trouble getting my children to sit with me when they were small, but I did find that I needed to translate ideas for their developmental levels. At that stage, I bought a book with ideas for meeting topics. We talked about how to adjust our house to our needs, how to have fun together, and how to be kind to one another. That’s not much different than the structure we’re adopting now.
Now, though, I have teenagers who have strong opinions.
So far (just ONE meeting with this structure), they have embraced this weekly check in. We recorded our commitments in our upgraded family binder, and we’ve followed through.
You Create the Structure You Need
The four-part agenda is just one idea of how to structure a regular check-in with your family. Try it. Try other ideas. Just find a way to give your each of your family members a regular place and time to share their needs.
Image © Sebcz | Dreamstime.com – Family Discussion Photo