HS 209 [AUDIOBLOG] The Power of Family Meetings by Monica Irvine
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The Power of Family Meetings
Hello. My name is Monica Irvine and I am so glad that you're here. Thank you so much for listening. I hope you're having an awesome day. I am so excited to be a featured speaker at all 7 Great Homeschool Conventions this year. I truly hope you will come and visit at least one of my sessions, and for sure, come and visit my booth, The Etiquette Factory. We have so much fun stuff!
Today, I am excited to share with you, one of my most popular blog and podcast episodes. It’s on how do families conduct family meetings and why would we need to do that anyway. I love talking about things that help us get organized however, my husband would laugh if he heard me say that. I think I'm pretty well organized, but in reality, that's not entirely true all of the time. For instance, if you could see my desk right now, you would wonder why I’m teaching a class on organization, but it just means I got a lot going on right now.
I also love goal setting. When I have goals, I get so excited. That's what gets me out of bed in the morning. Sometimes, I get so annoyed that my body requires sleep because I just don’t want to stop. I do, because I'm exhausted, but I’m so pumped up about my next goal or project, that I hate to slow down. I just want to get it done!!
Now, before I overwhelm you with all of my goal setting talk, let’s talk about something that I have found to be one of the most effective ways, to help our family become more united, more goal driven and more committed to do the things that are most important to us as a family. It’s called a “Family Meeting.”
Now, you don't have to call it a weekly family meeting because maybe if you say “meeting” to your spouse and your children, they might grumble and think that that sounds like the worst idea ever. So you could call it a weekly family “Pow Wow,” a weekly family huddle, a weekly family rally, etc.
Whatever you call it doesn’t really matter, but call it something, because you're going to love what happens when your family sits down together once a week for planning. Now don’t be discouraged if the first week or two you have some growing pains. That’s normal. And, if you forget to do it the next week, don’t just throw in the towel. But try again the following week. Here’s what I can promise you, if you just stick with it for two to three weeks. You will start to see a transformation in your family.
It's going to become “second nature” for your family to meet once a week with purpose and goals in mind. A great time to do it is after you get home from church on Sunday. Have a good lunch so bellies are full and then boom! Get it done!
Let me give you the reasons why this is so exciting and actually really fun.
First of all, it allows every member of your family to feel important. It allows them to feel like their opinion matters, that they are an important part of the family. It also helps that each member of the family has a say on the direction your family goes. It's such a beautiful and wonderful way to help prepare your children for so many things like problem solving, communication, compromise, etc. It helps them prepare for strategic planning both in their own family and on the job later. It helps them learn how to be better organized and how to set goals. Truly, the lessons are endless.
In this family meeting, you're going to actually have a written agenda. Simple, but written. This will help the meeting stay on track. It’s a great idea to let different people run the meeting. Remember parents, we’re trying to prepare our children to live without us, to be independent of us. We prepare them and teach them lots of different skills. That’s why allowing your children to take turns running the meeting is so beneficial.
I'm going to give you five examples of five subjects that could be included in your family meetings. Obviously, it’s your family meeting so do what works of your family, but listen to these ideas. It might help steer you in the right direction.
- Number one: family projects
- Number two: weeks appointments
- Number three: special occasions
- Number four: family concerns
- Number five: goals
Number One: Family Projects
So, imagine that you sit down with your family and you are going to discuss what family projects are coming up or ones that need to be scheduled. For instance, let’s say you need to clean your garage. How many of you need to clean your garage right now? Probably all of you, right? I bet you and your spouse have been mentioning that the garage needs to be cleaned for more than 6 months now!
You've been looking at it and noticing all the shelves with spiderwebs and that are dis-shoveled with things falling off the shelves and you’ve been thinking, “we really need to get out here and go through everything and just reorganize stuff.” However, we all know that the reason you haven’t done it yet is because you’re overwhelmed at the thought of it plus, it’s the most miserable job. I mean, who wants to do that?
We have a million other things that we need to do and want to do more than clean our garage, but at some point it needs to get done right? Well, what would happen if at your family meeting you decide it’s going to happen this Saturday. You just put it on the calendar.
When it's something that's not very fun, yet we know we have to do it, we all emotionally and physically prepare for it. Because, what choice do you have? You've made the commitment. Now you're going to do it. We're committed to getting it done. This prevents us from putting it off week after week, month after month, while it weighs on us.
Mom and dad are going to physically prepare. Maybe dad's going to make sure he's got the light bulbs that need replacing that has been out for a year in the garage. And maybe mom's going to make sure she's got the correct cleaning supplies for the family. That's how we accomplish things. By putting it on the calendar, making a commitment to doing it and then knocking it out. And the thing is, it's so important that we're teaching our children that this is just life, you know, doing yucky things. Our kids need to do more hard things.
Number Two: Week’s Appointments
This is where mom and dad and all the kids look at what activities, doctor’s appointments, family obligations are coming up in the coming week and then we make sure that we know who is driving, what supplies or resources we need, what snacks to bring, etc.
Maybe your son is supposed to bring the snack for boy Scouts this week, or maybe another child is supposed to bring a permission slip for a field trip. These are the things that send us into oblivion during the week when we're walking out the door, you have five minutes to get to where you’re going and your child informs you of one of these needs. CRAZY!!
Your child says, “Oh mom, I forgot I'm supposed to bring snack tonight.” All of a sudden, there’s contention in the home. There's frustration. These are the things that I think cause 90% of our stress during the week. It’s all of those little things that we just haven't properly prepared for. A family meeting is when you can calmly sit down and look at everyone's commitments and prepare. You might discuss, “You've got dance, you've got a field trip on Saturday, you've got, um, a birthday party to go to. So what do we need for those three things? What do we need to do or have ready? We can save so much time by not taking multiple trips to the store and energy and frustration when we plan ahead of time all of the things we must provide this week.
Number Three: Special Occasions
This is a fun one. For instance, let's say that during your family meeting, you notice that in three weeks it's going to be your mother-n-laws birthday as opposed to normally waking up the morning of your mother-in-law's birthday and realizing it. You're going to have time as a family to sit down and together discuss what you would like to do for grandma this year. She’s going to be 70, so that's a pretty special birthday. Now you all can discuss options for how you’re going to make grandma feel special this year.
This can become such a more special event as your children give ideas and come up with plan that they have contributed to. Perhaps your kids will decide that they would like to freshen up Grandma’s flower beds and so you all will have to plan some time, some supplies and what flowers you’re going to plant. How much more special, will this birthday be, not only for Grandma, but for your children, who have been allowed to really contribute to this occasion.
Number Four: Family Concerns
Now parents, this is one that you want to be careful with, meaning in a family setting. It's not the time to point out individual issues because remember, we're never going to embarrass or humiliate our children on any level because that's not effective.
If there's one individual in your family that you’re having an issue with, then that of course needs to be handled in private and with the utmost respect. However, if your having a family issue, that's what this setting is for. You do want to make sure that your family meetings don't become a negative experience for the family and don't become a griping session even for mom and dad. You don't want this to become a place where mom and dad just gripe about all the grievances you have seen lately. When it's negative, people don't learn. And you want this to be a learning experience and a positive experience. I’ll give you an example.
Let's say in your family you have a problem with lights being left on and electricity being wasted.
This might be the time where mom or dad say, “You know, you all, we want to talk about conservation and we want to talk about why it matters and why it matters to our pocket, but also why it matters to the environment.” Now you don't want this to be an hour long lecture, but maybe spend five minutes at the most, describing a few facts. Another idea is a few days before the meeting, you could assign one of your older children to do some research on electricity conservation and invite them to share what they learn at the next family meeting.
The idea is that you want to present an issue without accusation and invite your children to help come up with a solution. You might ask questions like, “What can we do as a family to help all of us remember to turn off lights and unplug things we're not using?” You could show your children the electricity bill and let them track your bill over the next few months. How much confidence would it give your children to know that they came up with a solution that they could see affected the electricity bill? That’s when their “lights” come on in their head! That’s huge!!
That's really how you educate your children. And to me, one of the most important things that the kids are learning in these kinds of environments and experiences is that my action makes a difference.
Number 5: Goals
Now it’s time to have some fun. This is where your family decides what goals your family wants to have for the coming year or in the next quarter? Allow everyone to throw out their ideas about everything. Maybe your family wants to go on a 10 mile hike like to Mount Mitchell, the highest peak East of the Mississippi. Or maybe your family wants to learn karate together. You might make the mistake of thinking that you all don’t have the money for that. Well, I don't know. Let's find out how much karate is. Let's spend the next two weeks researching all of the different karate places in our town, all the different resources to learn karate. After we gather all of that information, let's come back together and take a look at it and see what would need to happen for us, for our family to accomplish this.
You know, you all, I have learned in my life, that anything is possible and we want our children to know that too. And the only way they're ever going to learn that is if they see you and they see themselves accomplishing things that at first, seem impossible or too big. Well, you don't accomplish things without goals. Not really. You either make life happen or life happens to you and you want your kids to make their own life happen. We make life happen when we partner with the Lord, and then, anything is possible.
However, this is a learned belief system. We’re not normally born with that knowledge. And I meet too many people that don't have hopes and dreams and too many people that are not happy with their life, their circumstance, but they're not doing anything to change it. And I'm not built like that. But you know what? It's because I had parents that taught me that I had to make my life happen.
You've got to help your family make goals and you've got to make sure that you include the Lord in everything that you do and seek his guidance and his will and then,the Lord will help you and your family accomplish your dreams. He wants to help you be impactful in this world.
It's so exciting. Do you feel my excitement because y'all, that's how I feel continually because I love creating. I love having new things to aspire to be and to do and to accomplish. I love to help other people accomplish their dreams and their goals. It's what gives me my juice every day and it's just exciting that the Lord has blessed us with the ability to be creators and to live in this free country that we live in.
Something as simple as having a weekly family meeting, I believe can change the projection of your children. And you're going to take this little information that I've given you and you're going to expound on it and you're going to maybe have your first family meeting and it might go amazing. It might not, but don't you dare give up. You've got to find out what's the best recipe for your family. But remember, our goals here are to first of all, help our family get organized so that we can accomplish the things we want to accomplish and recognize the things we waste our time doing that we need to get out of our life.
You’re ready! You got this! You can do this! Schedule your first family meeting today!!
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