I have seven kids from ranging from 17 to one year old, one sexy husband, a bunch of chickens, a dog, and two to four cats, depending on the day. My house can feel chaotic. So, what does one do to help manage the chaos AND keep mom’s sanity?
Simple: have Family Meetings.
My family is my corporation, and if any corporation wants to be successful they need to meet together so that everyone is on the same page. If your family doesn’t have an end goal of what they want the family to look like, then it doesn’t matter what you do. However, if you know your destination and have goals, then it is much easier to make choices that will help your family stay on the path you’ve all chosen.
From the book Smarter Faster Better, by Charles Duhigg, he talks about the key component for a group to work well together is the culture of the group. Do people feel safe to express their ideas, and/or their emotions? Even if your Family Meeting looks like a circus, which mine often does, if everyone is getting an opportunity to share their thoughts and feelings, in a safe environment, then you’re setting your family up to be successful.
Starting your Family Meeting
The first couple of Family Meetings will most likely be your longest; at least it was for us. It is where you are going to set all the groundwork and help create the vision of what you’re trying to create.
This is where we talked about why we were going to have Family Meetings, what they would look like, and how they would go. This is also where we started to create our Mission Statement for our family.
Creating Your Family Mission Statement
Creating a Mission Statement can be a lot of fun. When we were creating ours we asked our family what they wanted in it. In 5, 10, 15 years, where do they see our family? Having fun? Being great friends? Traveling to exotic countries? Being missionaries? We just got the ball rolling and then we wrote down their ideas.
After, we took all their ideas and offered them the chance to create our Mission Statement. Some families might have a kid who wants to create it; we didn’t. So we had my husband write ours, using their ideas, and then we voted on whether we liked it and if it needed any changes.
I’m going to include ours, not because it’s the only way to have a Mission Statement, but because sometimes it’s helpful to see what other people do, just to give you some ideas. Also, we have talked about shortening ours to simplify it, but as of now this is what we have.
We are a Celestial Family. We believe in charity toward all people. We believe in God our Father, and in His Son Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost. Our lives show that we believe in the Atonement of Christ.
We are frugal with our money, and will save money every time we are paid to prepare for our future.
Aside from our Heavenly Father, our earthly family is the most important thing in our lives. If a family member is in need at any time, we will come running to help, no matter the cost.
We believe in studying and in learning. We will commit our entire lives to commit to learn and be educated, both in school and in private.
We are a healthy family. Our lives will be blessed by a healthy diet and good exercise.
We are a missionary family, and our examples of Christlike love will lead others to the Gospel by simply observing us.
We are a happy family.
We are a family that faces trials with strength, courage, and happiness. Come what may, and love it!
As a family we have put on and wear the Armor of God. We have faith, we read scriptures, we pray, we fast, we are just, and merciful.
We are a fun family.
A friend of ours had their mission statement made into some beautiful art work that hangs on their wall. Ours is taped to the side of the fridge. Super classy.
List of Grievances
This is one of the best parts of family meeting, the List of Grievances. On our fridge we have one of those magnetic shopping lists. During the week if someone has a problem with something, they have the opportunity to write it on the list.
Here is the best part. When your kid runs to you to let you know how their sibling is so mean and terrible, or someone keeps touching their stuff, you simply direct them to the list and have them write it down, or you write it down if they’re too small.
I might say something like, “That seems like that is really bothering you. I bet we can find a solution as a family.” That way they know they have been heard and they know we will go over it. But, what starts to happen as the weeks progress, usually they realize that a lot of their “problems” aren’t really problems. They also start to learn to problem solve on their own.
Some of the grievances that have made their way onto the list are: boys peeing on the toilet, people leaving their messes in the kitchen, people taking other’s stuff without asking, and we’ve even had problems with people eating too much bacon. No joke, bacon has been the biggest problem.
How to run your Family Meeting
Here is a quick run down of how our meeting goes. We rotate weeks of who is in charge. So, whoever is in charge that week picks a song and asks someone to start us off with a prayer.
We then go through every person and ask them if they have any comments or concerns. If they’ve written stuff on the List of Grievances this would be their chance to bring it up. Then we let the kids try to find a solution. I’ll give an example of how a meeting went just recently.
My son goes to the library often and people keep taking his books without asking. He said that he actually doesn’t mind them taking the books, but he keeps finding them shoved in places, getting lost, and not being taken care of. Because he is responsible for paying the fine at the library he doesn’t want people destroying the books.
The kids were able to express what they thought and they all worked together to find a solution. If they get stuck, sometimes my husband and I will give suggestions. They ended up deciding that if they want to take one of his books that they need to ask him and trade him something of value. When they return the book, he gives their something of value back.
Seriously, it is so cool.
After comments and concerns, we go through our calendar. We have a very full calendar. We have four kids with jobs, different school schedules, band practices, sport practices, birthday parties, and a whole slew of things that could be on there. We go through each day of the week so we make sure we have everything, and to also make sure everyone has a ride to where they need to be.
After that, we go through FEMPSS. It stands for Financial, Emotional, Mental, Physical, Social, and Spiritual. I will do another post on this specifically, because this is where we are setting goals and checking in on how everyone is doing.
And then we end with a cheer. Because we’re awesome.
The Biggest Trick To Family Meetings
The best way that I have found to have peaceful family meetings is to add food. My favorite is to have a big meal before or after church on Sunday, and when everyone is sitting with food in their mouth, they are much more willing to sit there quietly for family meeting. I don’t know what it is with food, but my monkeys are seriously motivated by it.
Your kids might just sit around and be willing to do it without food, but my little boys usually end up wrestling or throwing a ball back and forth if I don’t have something for them to eat. If food doesn’t speak to your family, find something that does.
And the last trick is to R-E-L-A-X! If your family is like mine, people are going to fart or burp during the meeting, little boys are going to wrestle, dad is going to check his phone, and that doesn’t mean that you have failed or that this will never work. Just relax and be understanding that your meeting will have a few more adventures in it than a corporate meeting.