For many years, I wanted less chaos and more organization in my family’s summer routine. Since I work out of our home and my husband teaches, our house becomes very different when school’s out for three months. (Think higher noise levels and ongoing demands for Mom’s Taxi Services.)
For the past three summers, holding weekly family meetings has been an important key to this mom’s sanity – most of the time.
Family meetings have led to a more fun and prayerful home atmosphere. I try to lead them casually but everyone must attend and participate for it to work. Though held just weekly, it’s a time, just as attending Sunday Mass, when we’re in a place together rather than scattered in all directions.
While the main goal is to create a schedule for the upcoming week, the meeting begins and ends with prayer. These are short or long, formal or informal, and led and chosen by a different family member each time. We also share intentions from our parish’s prayer chain and special requests about family and friends. Thanksgiving prayer is encouraged.
Following the opening prayer and prior to combing through calendars, we give compliments to one another. This portion gives everyone a positive boost and helps the meeting flow smoothly (usually). We thank a daughter, parent, or spouse, for a job well done, an extra favor, or to “shout out” congratulations for an awesome test grade or performance.
Next, going over everyone’s plans for the week is like putting together a big jigsaw puzzle. Sometimes it takes longer to fit the correct pieces, as rides to games and day camps are placed alongside work schedules. The huge benefit is it prevents conflicts, such as when one of us would suddenly realize in a panic that both kids need a ride home, at the same time, from different places.
Planning a family schedule holds my daughters accountable to their commitments and gives them a chance to ask — not at the last minute — to attend a party or invite friends over. In other words, the girls often end up remembering their plans schemed with pals and ask me about them sooner rather than later.
By now you may be wondering if there’s any flexibility in this mom’s life. My answer is a big, “Yes!” In fact, making the weekly family schedule together gives flexibility a realistic chance during the week. I can easily see what would work out – or not – when my daughters, of course, ask to go somewhere or have a friend for lunch at the spur of the moment. Maybe my husband and I can even go on a “real” date night.
With the schedule mostly set – again leaving breathing space for “emergencies” and unexpected visitors and invitations – it’s an ideal time to see which evenings work out for family dinners. I’m as huge a fan of family dinners as I am of family meetings. Hey, sometimes they can even be combined. We’ve been known to have meetings over a quick pizza meal during extra busy weeks and weekends.
Ideally, your family shares dinner together at least three to four times each week. Make menu planning part of your meeting. Ask the children for input on meals. Take it a step further and pencil them in to cook dinner one evening. Family meals offer the perfect time for catching up with another and praying before everyone runs again.
Believe it or not, this process doesn’t take two or three hours! All of this can be accomplished in less than an hour or even a half hour; pick the day and time that works best for your family members. During extremely busy times, we’ve just gone through the schedule to ensure everyone is on the same page for the next few days until we can meet.
During the meetings, I can make the schedule on my laptop, print out a copy when it’s complete, and hang it in our kitchen, the hub of our house. It easily can be adjusted as the week goes on.
If you haven’t tried a family meeting, I would highly recommend it as a way to schedule in more quality time together and more peaceful transitions in the beautiful summer months ahead. I would love to learn about your meetings. Make them as unique as your own family. If you’ve been holding family meetings, I would like to know about your experiences and ideas – what’s worked and what hasn’t?
In the meantime, I will leave you with a simple, seven-step agenda for your family meeting this summer. Feel free to adjust it according to your children’s ages and needs.
For the agenda, personalize it with your last name and a greeting. Give each family member a copy so they feel they’re an important part of the process, and they get involved.
Good luck and I look forward to hearing from you!
Seidel Family Meeting
Welcome everyone! It’s so good to have everyone together!
- Opening prayer.
- Weekly schedule.
- Family dinners.
- Grocery list.
- Prayer intentions.
- Closing prayer – and hugs!
Copyright 2014, Kim Seidel