After doing a family meeting, almost every week in our home for over three years now (holy shit!), we’ve made a lot of “mistakes” along the way.
Here are some tips we’ve put together for you so that your experience is a little bit easier!
Pick a low-stress day
Do you have a big meeting at work? Is there a stressful client situation going on? That’s probably not the best day to hold the family meeting! The energy that we bring into something has a lot to do with what we get out of it. Do your best to pick a day where you (and your family members) are lower-stress and can focus on, and enjoy this process, together.
[Personal Example: We do our family meeting on Sundays, because that’s our least stressful day of the week, and it helps us to start the week feeling organized.]
Eat first & drink water
Food! Water! Eating before Family Meeting and staying hydrated keeps our brains and bodies working well. Making sure you’re fed and hydrated are two of the most important steps in the process of streamlining your week. No one wants to have a family meeting while they’re HANGRY! You can even make it extra special and make Rachel’s favorite gluten-free snickerdoodles.
[Personal Example: When we first started doing our own family meeting, we sucked at this. One of us would have a headache from not drinking enough water [that’s Rachel], and one of us would have forgotten to make lunch because he was so focused on our meeting [that’s Kyle]. All of a sudden, we’re arguing about what movie we’re going to see on our date night! Yeah, we hadn’t eaten in 6 hours. Lesson learned!]
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Be clear on what your expectations are, both for yourself & your family
“What are you waiting for? What do you stall for? If you stand for nothing… What’ll you fall for?” Sorry, Hamilton keeps getting stuck in our head! But in all seriousness, why are you doing this? What do you want to get out of Family Meeting? Are you expecting your partner to do something or not do something? Setting expectations ahead of time for each person involved will help keep everyone accountable, but also rewarded.
[Personal Example: Your family (or partner) CANNOT and WILL NEVER be able to read your mind. If you want something from them, ask them. You have a much better chance of getting it. We promise.]
Make it FUN
Tearing off (metaphorical) band-aids can be hard, daunting, and might even be embarrassing. Making sure to include something fun to follow up your Family Meeting will help you overcome those perceived difficulties. We try to go for a hike or a date right after our meeting to help us air out our brains and to focus on each other. Try to plan something similar to follow up your meeting, as rewarding yourself for tearing off the band-aid will help to reinforce the behavior. (If you have kids, this goes double!)
[Personal Example: We get our most favorite coffee to drink during Family Meeting. Maybe your kiddos can drink some chocolate milk, or get to choose a special activity after the meeting. Mimosas are allowed too!]
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Truth moment. We both struggle with being “easily distracted.” No, not enough to be diagnosed or go to therapy for it, but we’re both suuuuuper… oh look, a squirrel! (ha!) We both love people watching, looking at dogs as they go by, and watching cute little babies bundled up for winter walk by with their family. So, we know this about ourselves. If we want to get anything done – we have to go somewhere where there will be limited distractions. Think about things like: at home or a park or coffee shop? Music on or no music? What does it look like for you to have “no distractions”? Get as close to that as you can!
[Personal Example: Rachel [AND KYLE!] is [are] addicted to an unnamed theme park game on her/his phone, so during our Family Meeting, that app gets closed! ;-)]
Set a timer for each discussion
Our Family Meeting can go 2+ hours because we include a business check-in during our meeting. I know, that’s insane. Understandably, that doesn’t work for most people. This is a good reminder that one size doesn’t fit all and you have to figure out what works for you! One thing that we have found helpful is to set a timer for each section once you feel more comfortable with the structure. A timer will ensure that you stick to the task and get everything done.
[Personal Example: Rachel can talk about our date night for 30 minutes, and Kyle could talk about meal planning the whole time if we didn’t set a 10-minute timer for each discussion.]
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It’s a democracy, not a dictatorship
If your household is run by one person ruling, this meeting is not for you. This meeting was written with the belief that everyone’s opinion is valid and matters, no matter what age they are in the family. The best way to have your child grow into the adult you’d love them to be is to start treating them with that respect, now. While of course, as the parental figure(s), you have the final say, there’s no motivation for your kiddos to participate if they don’t feel heard and valued. This is a great opportunity for them to be reminded of their inherent value and importance of the family system.
[Personal Example: We will each take turns running each section of the meeting, that way we both are taking the leadership role and nobody feels “told what to do.”]
Progress, not perfection
Yes, in an ideal world this meeting would happen each week, at the same time with everyone at full attention. Everyone would be happy, not stressed, hydrated, full, having fun, blah blah blah. Sounds Perfect! But, we know perfection isn’t possible. This tool is meant for progress, not perfection. The goal is for you to get through the WWC Family Meeting one time each week. If that feels like it’s too much, try doing it once a month. If you get through it half way one time in the next two months, that’s okay too. Just do it, whatever you can, do it.
[Personal Example: Reflection has helped us both out in this regard. We like to talk about each meeting a little after it happens, like a “recap.” We do this to see what we did differently each time, and what we could do to improve our next meeting!]
In summary, we hope that these eight tips will help you in both the planning and executing your own version of the WWC Family Meeting. We’re also very aware that one size does NOT fit all, so please make changes as you see fit! In fact, we’d love for you to share your changes with us! Comment below or in our incredible Online Community on Facebook! Who knows, you may even help another family with your input! Oh, and let us know how it goes!