Friends, we're so excited to say that The Family Workbook is launching SOON! A true labor of love, this is the first of several workbooks to come that will guide you to live out what matters in each of our Cultivated Life Evaluation categories. Today, in honor of The Family Workbook's November 6th debut, enjoy this excerpt—all about planning (and enjoying!) family meetings!
Family meetings, just like goals, are a tool to bring what matters most to life in your family. A regular family meeting can help you turn your family’s big-picture vision—what you defined in your mission statement and core values—into action. Regular family meetings can also give you an opportunity to model problem-solving skills and cooperation (and solve real problems you’re facing!), help your weeks run more smoothly, strengthen family bonds, and pass on family values.
If running a weekly family meeting feels overwhelming, remember: the key, as always, is to start small and then build over time. And make it work for you! The beauty of a family meeting is that it can be as unique as your family.
Parts of a Family Meeting
Here are a few elements of a family meeting you might want to include:
You don’t need to bang a gavel to bring the meeting to order, but an opening ritual can help set the scene. You might consider reading your family mission statement, saying a prayer, singing a song, answering a conversation card, or doing your family’s secret handshake.
With everyone in one room, take the opportunity to build each other up. Ask each family member to share a compliment or something they’re grateful for from the week.
Reflection reaps rewards, so consider looking back at the week you just lived. Open the floor for family members to share about what went well in the family last week and what might have been challenging. Little by little adds up, whether it’s goal progress or tiny corrections to how your family runs!
Pull out the family calendar or your individual planners and sync up for the week ahead. Walk through each day and make sure everyone is clear on expectations: who has a playdate, when is back to school night, what’s on the meal plan. You might also consider assigning chores if they rotate from week to week.
Celebrate progress on a joint family goal or give each family member the floor to share an action step or accomplishment from the past week.
If questions or issues pop up during the week and don’t need to be dealt with immediately, consider tabling them until your next family meeting. Kids want a new pet? Dad wants to revisit the phones-at-dinner policy? Mom wants to talk about expectations for an upcoming trip? Discussing issues like these in a more formal setting can help you have more productive discussions. It can also help everyone’s voice feel heard and give your kids experience advocating for what’s important to them.
This is also a great time to ask if anyone needs help with anything—problem-solving as a family can strengthen family bonds!
Consider setting aside 5–15 minutes to teach on or discuss a topic that’s important to your family. Everything from practical skills to philosophical discussions could be a good fit—the options are only limited by the ages and abilities of your kids and what’s important to your family. Try:
- Learning a practical etiquette skill (how to shake hands, how to answer the door)
- Studying a piece of Scripture
- Discussing a chapter of a book you’re reading as a family
- Talking about a current event
- Focusing on an aspect of how the government is run or how to be a good citizen
- Learning a basic life skill (how to clean a toilet, how to plan a week of meals)
- Talking about critical thinking skills or role-playing a moral dilemma
Once the business is out of the way, take time to have fun together. Eat a treat, play a game, go for a walk together — whatever sounds fun to your family.
End your meeting on a positive note: sing a song, close with a brief prayer, stack your hands in the center and give a cheer, or do a group hug. The things that make families unique are what bond them together, so don’t be afraid to get a little cheesy!
Above all, remember that the goal is progress, not perfection. If your meetings feel scattered, if no one seems to be listening, if the kids complain about participating—don’t be discouraged. Lead with enthusiasm, listen and incorporate feedback, and stick with it over the long term. Little by little adds up, even when it doesn’t seem like it.
We hope you loved this peek inside The Family Workbook! Come back on November 6th to shop your new favorite family tool from Cultivate.