Even when I think I have my ducks in a row, the beginning of a new school year feels crazy.
My plan to get the kids to bed at a decent hour the last weekend of summer never happened. Since my kids are half asleep, we can’t seem to get out the door on time. And, just as we are about to leave, we discover P.E. shoes are too small. Typical beginning of the school year stuff, but not quite the morning I’d hoped for.
This craziness reminded me it’s time to start our weekly family meetings again. (We let them go over the summer along with decent bedtimes and wearing shoes apparently.)
I learned about “Agile” Family meetings a few years ago after reading Bruce Feiler’s book, The Secrets of Happy Families. The “Agile” model was developed by innovative tech and design companies as a way to efficiently respond to needs and keep teams working together. The meeting model is so effective; many of these professionals brought it into their homes.
Our family has grown to love these meetings (yes, even my kids) because they improve our communication and demonstrate that everyone has a voice and a role in making our family life the best it can be. Here’s how it works:
- Pick a regular time for a brief family meeting (20 minutes max) – We do ours on Thursdays after dinner because the week is in full swing and more issues seem to crop up. As a treat (and to help keep kids at the table), we usually have a little chocolate.
- Here are the three questions for the meeting. Everyone answers each question before we move on to the next.
- What went well for our family this week? Be sure responses focus on the family, not individuals.
- What did not go well for our family this week? Be sure all perspectives and opinions are heard and respected.
- What do we want to work on? Try to find consensus. Bruce Feiler suggests working on two things. My family just works on one thing a week and sometimes it takes us a few weeks to make the change.
- At the next family meeting, talk about how it went and start the process over.
What I love about these meetings is that they encourage my kids to share the family stuff that they’re struggling with. These issues wouldn’t have come to the surface unless we had created the time and space for them to share and welcomed their honesty.
For example, this time last year, both of my daughters brought up that they disliked feeling so rushed in the morning. This encouraged all of us to find solutions to make mornings better. I’m pretty sure we’ll be revisiting morning chaos again!
Here’s a Ted Talk by Bruce Feiler that discusses agile meetings if you want to learn more. I would love to hear how it goes if you give it a try!