We have talked about the value of having family meetings previously, and now it’s time to talk about how to have a family meeting. You may think it’s as simple as just sitting down with your family and talking, but we have found that there’s a little more to it than that.
Before you get overwhelmed with the idea of having to plan yet another thing in your home, let us reassure you that this doesn’t have to be elaborate. It just needs a little structure in order to work.
How to Have a Family Meeting
Here are our tips based on the family meetings we had when Sam was a child:
1 – Have an agenda.
No one needs to stick to strict rules of parliamentary procedures, but having even just a basic outline for your agenda can help things run more smoothly.
This can include things like: any family issues that need to be discussed, going over the family calendar for upcoming events so they can be coordinated, and reviewing chores and other things that need to be taken care of around the house and dividing up the tasks among the family members. When it comes time to discuss something that went wrong, talk about it from the perspective of making things better for the future.
When going over the calendar, consider scheduling in some fun. Let family members suggest ideas and add to the calendar as appropriate.
Pro Tip: It’s a great idea to include time for praise. Thank family members for things they have done to help out, celebrate something they’ve achieved, and just generally be each other’s cheerleaders. Once a quarter, you could even give out certificates to each person in recognition of their achievements.
2 – Establish some ground rules.
You might want to talk about how each person is going to take turns. If needed, you could create a talking stick and make a rule that a person must be holding the stick if they’re going to speak or you can use a timer and give each person a time limit. Often though, all that is needed is to set expectations ahead of time and use gentle reminders during the meeting.
Remind and model for all family members that even when discussing issues, it’s important to use kindness. No insults, no putdowns, no name calling. Make sure everyone has the chance to participate in the discussions.
You might also want to collect all phones before the meeting begins and ask that all toys be put away so there are no distractions during the meeting.
3 – Schedule your meetings.
Plan when you are going to have your meetings and make sure everyone knows about them. If there is an emergency and you need to have an interim meeting, be sure to let everyone know about it and when it will be.
We liked to put up a piece of blank paper under the sign that reminded everyone of when the next meeting was going to be. As each family member thought of something they wanted to talk about, they would add it to the paper and this would help form the agenda for next time.
For us, we found that weekly was too much with our already busy schedule. Monthly meant too much time in between to effectively deal with recent issues. In addition, we liked to assign chores at each meeting (we would all take turns with various chores and monthly meetings meant you were stuck with a chore you especially disliked for an entire month). So, we liked to hold meetings every other week.
Pro Tip: Start and end on time. No one will want to attend these meetings if they start or run late.
4 – Take turns.
It can be a great idea to let each person in the family who is old enough to take turns as the meeting leader. Start off with the adults so they can model how to effectively run a meeting before allowing the kids to take their turns. Remember to demonstrate good ways to stay on task.
You might even want to have a special hat and gavel for the leader to make the position even more special.
5 – Be sure to include some fun.
Add some fun to your meetings. This could be as simple as a snack that the family enjoys or could be that following the meeting, you have family game or movie night. Or maybe as part of the meeting you want to make some sort of craft projects together.
This increases the family bonding and gives everyone something to look forward to with each meeting.
6 – Consider doing your meal planning at the meeting.
This may or may not work with your family, but we found it really helpful. We would have each member contribute ideas for meals they’d like to have in the next week or two so that everyone had input into our upcoming dinner ideas. You can even have nights that are designated for each person in the family and allow them to choose what’s for dinner on those nights.
7 – Come up with a good way to end your meetings.
Make sure you’re ending on a positive note. You could give a big group hug or some words of affirmation for each person, for example.
8 – Other ideas for family meetings:
You could discuss ways to help your neighbors, community, or the world. Plan some charitable donations, volunteer work, or service projects to do together.
Come up with ways to keep in touch with and honor extended family. You can also talk about how to honor those who have passed away.
Create a family mission statement – what the family believes in, stands for, what they are striving for.
Put up a family bulletin board. At each meeting, choose a person to be in charge of the bulletin board until the next meeting (taking turns). They can add important reminders, things to make the family laugh (memes, jokes, etc), interesting articles, and so on. This is also where you can post the family calendar and leave love notes for each other.
Do a fire evacuation practice and discuss emergency preparedness so everyone is ready if some sort of emergency were to occur. Go over safety issues (having a family code word, online safety, and so on).
Come up with ideas to add to a “boredom buster jar”.
Discuss current events. Talk about practical ways to help. If so inclined, pray for those involved.
Learn about and work on positive character traits like forgiveness, empathy, perseverance, etc.
Go over the family budget. You may not want to fully share all details of your budget but certainly, it can be helpful to go over some things like your vacation fund or the budget for fun family activities.
Write family letters or thank you notes to others. This is a great way to reach out to extended family. Younger children can draw pictures to include.
Select secret friends among family members. Leave them sweet notes, do something special for them, take care of one of their chores, etc.
Have a question to start each meeting with – something open-ended to prompt discussion and get to know each other better. For example, if you won a million dollars, what would you do with it? If you could be an animal or have super powers, what would you choose?