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How to Have a Kick Butt Family Meeting

Family meetings are a thing here, a whole thing.
We hit a wall around here friends, and then I decided to just go ahead and put all our feelings on the wall. It is the time of year for a full on regroup. As pictured here I tend to channel all my teacher moves into mom moves when things get crazy and I have to say it works. Post-its make my teacher heart happy.
The family meeting (with Post-its or without) gives everyone a chance to be heard. It gives us a chance to get our feelings on the table and it helps us find a way forward out of whatever muck we are in.
This particular muck had to do with a house that was a disaster, too many people that were just doing their individual thing and not enough folks that were stepping it up for each other. The litter boxes were overflowing, there were always dishes in the sink, people were on their phones too much (likely including me) and everyone ALWAYS had a “reason” why they were not helping.
For the record I hate the idea of helping. I like CONTRIBUTING. Helping makes it seems like everything is my job and they are being nice to me by doing things. Actually, everyone who lives in a space should contribute to the space. Especially those that are old enough to vote.
The steps to the family meeting are as follows. Modify and change at will. My brother-in-law said everything about this meeting is what he hates about meetings so if you feel that way put your own spin on it. Take everyone out to dinner, take a family walk and talk it out, forgo the Post-its. But get your people talking. Family meeting forever.
  1. Gather your people and give them time to think about the issue. In this case I had them write their thoughts on Post-its but they could jot anywhere. Even the littlest of littles can do this. The idea is to help everyone think their own thoughts before they listen to everyone else. I like to start with something positive. So for this meeting the first question was, “What is working well in our family?”.
  2. Give time for everyone to share their thinking without judgement or interruption. It can be good to write down these thoughts. (On Post-its!) This is where you are giving a high five to all the things your family rocks at!
  3. Again pose a question, you have started positive so you are going to stay positive. The second question here was, “What would it be like if our family were the best it could be?” This is your ideal state. Dare to dream!
  4. Share. Again, no judgement. So if someone says our family would be better if we had better snacks, write it down. If they say it would be better if mom yelled less, do not defend yourself just write it down. Gather all the thoughts.
  5. Now you get real. The third question for us was, “What is getting in the way of us being the best we can be?” This is where they write a lot more so you might want to set some ground rules. It cannot be personal as in “Our family would be awesome if mom would stop nagging us.” Instead I gave mine the example, “I think spending so much time on our phones is in the way.” and “We have so many schedules going it is really hard to get things done.” No judgement or finger pointing.
  6. Share again. Make a big old list of things that are just challenging. No finger pointing or blame. You might have to work to keep this as neutral as possible. Pat yourself on the back for all of the life skills you are teaching here! Communication skills galore!
  7. Then think for a bit…then ask, “What could we do to overcome those barriers?” We ended up having a huge conversation that was different than what I thought it would be. We talked about the fact everyone felt we might need more structure and accountability. Something I thought they didn’t really love.
  8. Try something as a solution that may or may not work but you are all committing to give it a whirl. We came up with our second rainbow checklist (pictured below) I give us about a 60% success rate currently even with the back to school transition. We’ll stick with it for a few months and I have full faith things will continue to get better. It is so much better for all of us when kids ask, “Can I go to the mall?” we just say “Have you done your rainbow checklist?” instead of “Are you kidding we need some help around here!” You may be tempted to just put up a checklist for everyone to follow but this meeting is about the process not the product you come up with. Everyone needs to be involved and invested.

All in all the family meeting can get you all back on track and it gives you something to move forward from when your people are off the actual rails! Go with God my friends!



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