Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Family Meeting

Every few months we hold a "Family Meeting."  I usually announce this meeting after a particularly few days of chaos. This past Family Meeting was announced after two children forgot to study or do an assignment until 9pm, but they had time to play on game consoles or dilly dally in the shower.  Rooms were being left in various levels of disarray.  When I find myself feeling more frustrated with my kids than I'm comfortable, I call "The Meeting."

I need to stop here and stipulate that on a day to day basis things usually run smoothly.  I expect my kids to be independent.  I don't check homework every night and I don't follow them to the bathroom and check their tooth brushing.  My five year old, yes. My other three? No. If they need help, I see grades slip or I notice anything out of the ordinary I'm on it like flies on sh*t.  But every day?  Four kids?  You best be doing your assignments and cleaning at least 70% of your mess.

I'll take the other 30% of the mess because it's more work to follow kids around and get them to clean it than it is to just pick it up.  It's also a giant mystery who left the mess because everyone always claims they didn't eat it, didn't touch it, weren't in the room or they don't even KNOW what I'm talking about.

Another blog. 

Our Family Meetings are more of a re-group and remind than anything else.  There is no yelling and no blaming.  We all sit over a dinner everyone loves.  This time we went to Burger King and did it Heck style (anyone watch The Middle?).  Once we're seated I talk about why we're having the meeting, completely and totally calling out all events that frustrated me.  Kids are not allowed to interrupt.  I discuss how generally we don't expect much; we don't have hard and fast rules on television time and game consoles.   Chores are easily handled.  They can be done in ten minutes every day.  This is also the time I explain life from a different point of view:


This past meeting, after requesting that the kids be more aware of picking up juice pouches or returning bowls and cups to the sink, I heard groans.  

"What if it isn't mine?"

That very comment sent me into an explaining tailspin.  All day I pick up mess that isn't mine.  And if you walk by any cup, plate, juice box, jacket, pair or single sock you are essentially leaving the mess for the next person.  Which is always me.  If you know whose mess it is, either get them or clean it and tell them you did.  Be kind, because next mess just may be yours.  And they're more likely to clean it.  

I stress to my kids that we are a big family, and we are a TEAM.  The house is clean because we all chip in.  We can't slack and start expecting other people to handle our mess.  That isn't how life works.

After all the general areas of why I called the meeting are discussed, I go around the table and tell each child what they are doing well.  I praise them for anything they do that makes my life easier.  I then insert two areas they need growth and a chore.  Everyone has to go around and repeat back to me what they need to work on and what their chore is so I know they understand completely.

This is where I stop and discuss respecting each other's privacy.  I have four kids, all of them are in school.  They all know the same kids.  I make it clear that inside our walls everyone deserves to feel to safe and comfortable.  Not everything is meant to be shared.  Kids at school don't need to know who had the smelliest farts or who clogged the toilet.  Those gems are for family only.

Last, I go over the rules we set for television and all electronics.  Those rules are always:

DO NOT TURN IT ON IF EVERYTHING ELSE ISN'T DONE.  This includes homework, lunch sacks unpacked, STUDYING done, chores done and mess cleaned up.  Before you hit that "power button" pause and think hard.  If there is anything left undone you are going to lose that electronic for whatever time period I feel is necessary.

And this will always depend on what kind of mood I'm in.  

When everything I wanted to discuss is discussed, the kids can take turns sharing their two cents.  Everyone has the opportunity to be heard.  

Usually Family Meetings get everyone back in line quick.  About 50% of what was discussed sticks with them, and I see more effort and less groans when it comes to helping or handling their own things.  Kids need structure, and they like to know exactly what is expected of them.  Tell them what TO DO and what they are doing well.  Tell them what they need to work on next.  No one wants to hear someone rattle off all the things they shouldn't do every day.  It makes ears bleed.  Saying "eat more fruit and try this new yogurt" sounds much more pleasant than "STOP EATING JUNK!  PUT DOWN THAT CANDY!"  

It's all in the delivery.

Have a fabulous Sunday!  

1 comment:

  1. :) I could use a family meeting right now! YIKES....after being gone for 13 days, my house feels like a disaster of mess and bad attitudes. I love how you do your family meetings. I think I need to as well.


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