(Originally posted at Rational Jenn)
We had our first official Family Meeting yesterday morning! This is a PD tool I'd been hesitant to try, partly because I felt like I was around the kids so much and we generally seemed to discuss our family agenda and problem-solve as-needed. Also, I was overwhelmed by the idea, mistakenly believing that the Family Meeting needed to consist of tons of discussion topics which would take up lots of time. I was also concerned that a certain person would run away with the show, wont as he is to talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and . . . well, you get the picture.
(My pack of Tool Cards has gone missing in the Great Floor Project of 2010, which we are still feeling the ramifications of, so I can't put up a picture of the card. But Single Dad Brad--who is also Jane Nelsen's son--has a picture of it on his blog!) Here's what it says:
[Purpose:] Enhance connection and cooperation with weekly family meetings.
Format for the Family Meeting:
1) Compliments and appreciations
2) Evaluation of past solutions
3) Agenda items - person can choose
a) Share feelings
b) Invite a discussion
c) Brainstorm for solutions
4) Calendar: scheduling, meal planning
5) Fun activity and dessert
Like Kelly, I was inspired to really give Family Meetings a try after our recent Positive Discipline class. I realized that this regular meeting format would meet some needs our family has, and talking about the idea with the group helped me realize that the agenda didn't need to be long or arduous, especially at first, and even more especially, given the ages of my children. (Kids under the age of 4 or 5 should not be expected to participate in long--or any--meetings. If they do, great; but it's not worth battling over, given the developmental stage.) And the main reason I wanted to try it was to involve Brendan, too. I think too often the kids see me as the Decision-Maker Peopleguy, and I wanted them to see that Brendan and I were on the same page.
I strongly suspected that Ryan would NOT join us (despite my initial concerns that he'd run all over us), because he's contrary like that, and also because he'd stately loudly and in no uncertain terms that he was NOT coming to the Family Meeting. No worries; we managed without him. This time. He sat in another room and eavesdropped on the whole thing, and dropped a comment here or there, too. I predict he'll do that for the first few meetings and then eventually join us.
We didn't cover every step in our first Family Meeting, but this is how it generally went down.
Brendan, Morgan, and I sat at the kitchen table, and Sean wandered in and out. Ryan, as I mentioned, was hiding within earshot. I explained that the first thing we would do at our Family Meetings was compliment each other, notice nice or helpful things that had happened recently. I like this idea because it sets such a nice tone for the rest of the meeting.
I paid M a compliment and she came over and gave me a squeeze-y hug. Then she paid us compliments. More squeeze-y hugs. Then Brendan paid me a compliment, and M gave us squeeze-y hugs. Morgan was the Chairman in Charge of Squeeze-y Hugs for this meeting.
After the round of compliments/hugs, we talked a little bit about the calendar and dinners for the week, and about Morgan's birthday coming up next week. More hugs. (Really, you should invite her to all of your meetings, it was the cutest thing.)
Then we talked about King or Queen on the Meeting. I explained that I was the Queen of the Meeting this time, because I was introducing the idea and explaining it, but that we could all take turns being King or Queen of the Meeting. Morgan volunteered to be Queen of the Meeting next week.
Then I announced that I'd be handing out allowance and settling some back-allowance that was owed to people. Ryan apparated with a little pop!, I handed him his allowance, gave Morgan a dollar (she doesn't have an official allowance, but asked for some), and then we were done with our Family Meeting.
I think it went well, and it will be a good chance for Brendan to be involved, and for us to talk about our crazy calendar. We didn't do any family problem-solving, and I think we'll hold off on that part of it for a few weeks, until we get into the routine of it.
I'll keep you posted on our progress!