Creating a Perfect Family Meeting Agenda: How to Make it Work and Keep it Simple
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Family meetings are an important part of life in our home. It took some time, but over the years, we’ve created the perfect family meeting agenda for ourselves.
Since each family is different, I’m going to share the process of creating a family meeting agenda that’s perfect for your family, so you can spend more time connecting as a family and less time in trial and error.
1. Begin Creating a Family Meeting Agenda by Setting a Date and Time
Some days of the week are just cram-packed full of stuff. Sports practices, school functions, work commitments, you name it, there’s a lot.
Avoid scheduling your family meeting on a day that it’s likely to get canceled or brushed aside. Your family meeting should be a priority, so set it up for success by scheduling it on a day that you know you can stick to. For our family, it’s Sunday.
We go to church, come home and relax a bit, start a big dinner around 2:00, then have our meeting right after we eat at 5.
If we know that dinner is going to be later or that we want to get to bed early, we’ll have the meeting prior to eating.
Which day of the week offers the most availability for your family? Choose one and make it “family meeting day!”
You only need about an hour, so it doesn’t have to take up the whole day/evening, but you do want to choose a day that is relatively low demand, so your meeting doesn’t get crowded out. Remember, this is important.
2. Decide on Family Meeting Topics or a List of Items to Be Discussed Ahead of Time
It can be easy for a family meeting to lean toward one of two extremes. Either you’ll try to include too much and end up losing everyone’s attention, or you have NO idea what to talk about, and it’s not productive or fun.
Next, choose what you would like to talk about or important family meeting topics based on your family’s unique personality and needs.
My children like to be prepared and know what’s going on, so a large part of our family meeting is discussing the upcoming schedule.
We go over what is coming up for the week ahead and talk briefly about what’s beyond that so the kids are given structure and predictability.
I’ll give you a list of possible family meeting topics and talking points at the end. For now, simply determine that you will be intentional to decide ahead of time what your family meeting topics and discussion items will be.
3. Decide on a Time Limit for Your Family Meeting
The amount of time you spend having a family meeting will depend largely on the size of your family, the age of your children, and the pace of your life.
When my husband and I first started having family meetings 12/13 years ago, our family consisted of the two of us and our infant son.
Those meetings were really short! We were simply creating a habit of coming together for our son. My husband would say a few things about work, I’d make a comment on something fun the baby and I did, then we’d let the baby “share” something. (He’d make a coo sound, and we acted like it was the wisest piece of information we’d ever heard.?)
Nowadays, with four children, a demanding work life for my husband, and the ins-and-outs of running a small business, our meetings take much longer.
Though we still take care to keep the meetings engaging and fun, they typically take anywhere from 30-60 minutes.
If we find our meeting approaching 45 minutes in length, we start to eliminate things that can wait for another time.
Setting a time limit for your family meeting is important for the children to remain engaged. They’ll grow weary of having meetings that drag on and on.
You can make sure important topics don’t get missed or cut-off by prioritizing your family meeting topics, which we’ll talk about shortly.
Once you have a list of family meeting topics or a list of discussion points AND a time limit set, divide your allotted time up as needed for the topics.
Keep a timer, if necessary, to make sure you have time for everything. Time allotment can be even among topics, or some topics may require more time than others.
We typically find that some topics require more time, while others are addressed quickly.
4. Use a Family Meeting Plan to Structure Your Meeting
Create a pleasant and calming flow with your meeting by implementing structure.
You can create a family meeting plan with a notebook and pen or by using a printable tool such as my Faithful Family Planner.
The important thing here is that your children (and you) have predictability every week. If you are spontaneous and like to shake things up… that’s great! Just do it in a structured way! Just kidding… sort of.
Routine and structure are tremendously important for children. If your family is highly spontaneous, simply starting and ending your family meeting the same way each week is enough.
Having a family meeting plan helps you stay on track, prioritize your discussion list, develop good habits, and make sure each child gets a chance to share.
Structuring your family meeting with the mundane family meeting topics such as schedules first gets those things out of the way while the children are fresh.
From there, you can address behavior, emotions, privileges, etc.
Afterwhich, it’s important to give the children time to share what is on their minds and in their hearts.
Lastly, it’s wise to close out a family meeting with something fun. This gives the children something to look forward to all meeting long and keeps them engaged.
We’ll talk more about this below.
5. What to do First at Your Family Meeting
I hinted to the idea that it’s good to get mundane things out of the way at the beginning of your family meeting. First things are often both the most necessary and the least fun.
It’s good practice to order these things at the beginning of the meeting, so you’re not trying to cram them in at the end when no one is really paying attention anymore.
You may end up overlooking a detail such as daddy traveling this week. That makes it difficult for the kiddos when they discover his absence later in the week and feel caught by surprise.
Examples of family meeting topics to cover first are: schedules, parent-child dates, parent dates, extra privileges earned, privileges lost as a result of consequences, sporting events for the week, extra-curricular activities, field trips, etc.
Anything that you really want to make sure everyone is on the same page about should be covered at the beginning of your family meeting agenda.
6. What to do Last at Your Family Meeting
Similarly to there being things it’s best to cover at the beginning of your family meeting, there are things best left for last.
While creating your family meeting agenda, decide a fun way to end the meeting. Placing a discussion item or simple activity at the end will give your children something to look forward to and keep them actively participating throughout the meeting.
Examples of what to do last during your family meeting are: tell a story from childhood, play a conversation game, play the movie game, tell jokes, look up a riddle, decide on an activity for that week’s family night, share a lesson you learned throughout the day, share something you witnessed one of your children do that day that you are proud of, etc.
Close your family meeting on a positive note and with a smile and a laugh.
7. What to do if You Run Out of Time
If you find yourself nearing the end of your family meeting time and you haven’t covered everything, give yourself and your family the grace to skip things.
By creating a family meeting agenda that prioritizes the most necessary items at the beginning of the meeting, and places fun at the end of the meeting, you provide yourself the liberty to skip over the two-thirds if necessary.
If you notice this happening often, you can reevaluate your family meeting agenda, eliminate unnecessary topics, shorten the discussion length, or even decide to make your meeting time longer.
8. Remember to End on a Positive Note
Sometimes families find that heavy or unpleasant stuff comes up during family meetings. If a child is caught in a pattern of undesirable behavior for example, parents may end up spending too much time dwelling on what needs to be fixed with that one child and get spun up and frustrated.
Family meetings are a way to go through life together with your children intentionally. It only makes sense that they get weighty at times. Life can be heavy.
Ending on a positive note doesn’t always mean finding a way to laugh or joke. Sometimes ending on a positive note can mean making certain your child knows he or she is supported by giving a tight hug, or focusing that night’s prayer on one child or situation.
End your family meeting with encouragement and reassurance that you are committed to your children and the well-being and advancement of the whole family!
9. Example List of Items to be Discussed
- Dad’s Schedule
- Mom’s Schedule
- Sports Schedule
- Family Night Activity
- Behavior or Habit Concerns
- Behavior or Habit Praise (pat’s on the back)
- Share News (Do this without being gossipy. Family should be a safe place to talk about things you and your children have heard to keep lines of communication open. This can be done in a beneficial way.)
- New Rules Being Implemented
- Rules that Aren’t Being Followed
- Problems at School
- Lowlights (things you and your children have faced the previous week that hurt your/their heart)
- Highlights (things you and your children experiences the previous week that were fantastic)
- Meal Requests
- Parent-Child Date Plans
- Mommy-Daddy Date Plans
- Who Needs Attention That Week/Month? (have a relative that hasn’t been heard from in a while, give a call or address the need to spend extra alone time with a particular child who may be feeling down)
- Home Improvement Plans
- Holiday Plans
- Prayer Requests
10. How to Have Fun at Your Family Meeting
Finally, having fun at your family meeting is essential to keeping your children present and engaged.
Keep the atmosphere positive and light. If behavior needs addressing, do so with grace and mercy.
Remember, it’s not the time to correct the behavior; a family meeting is a time to bring the behavior out into the open.
It’s an opportunity to hold your child (and yourself) accountable for actions.
It’ll be up to you to take steps to correct the behavior in the days that follow.
Try to laugh at yourself, be upbeat, and smile a lot during your family meeting even if you look silly doing it. Your kids will love that!
Keep things balanced. Include a few gratitude phrases or praises along with correction action discussed.
Changing the Family Meeting Agenda Stigma
Many parents think family meetings are for getting everyone together to address some big problem. So often, when I talk to other moms about how significantly weekly family meetings have impacted our family, the first thing they say is, “What do you talk about!!!???”
Family meetings have long been used as a time to call together family that is distant, separated, estranged, or broken, in order to deal with something no-one wants to deal with.
I’d love to see that change.
I already am. You can do an internet search for family meetings now and find helpful articles on using them for intentional parenting instead of finding only results for getting the family together to discuss funeral arrangements.
Family meetings are more and more, becoming a source of stability and security for children and their families.
Lastly, one of my very favorite aspects of weekly family meetings is the way it teaches my children to speak their minds.
At our family meetings, my children know that the meeting is a safe place to bring up grievances, hurts, and struggles.
When your child gets good at not being ashamed of their own shortcomings and feeling secure enough to voice problems out loud, she can carry that into her adult life for monumental benefit!
Family meetings are a great way for your children to exercise their honest muscle. Practice speaking bolding on their own behalf. Practice praying, and establish that her voice is valued and significant.
That is a parenting win any way you slice it!