Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Family Meeting Agenda Details.

I posted recently about the how critical our family meeting is to the smooth (er) operation of our family and home.  Just in case I convinced anyone to start this powerful habit, I thought I'd share a little more of the nuts and bolts of how we run our family meetings.  First, a simplified version of our weekly agenda:

For people less prone to using an agenda than me (possibly every one?), let me try to make an argument for it.  The idea behind any list I make is to get the information out of my head and in to a safe and reliable place where I can access it later. An agenda ensures that every thing is addressed without needing to spend half of my mental energy trying to remember what comes next.  But an agenda should be a tool, not a mandate.  Our agenda almost always has things crossed out or added until the next time I revise and print it.

Discussion Topics

For a long time, this was the last item on our agenda, but ultimately we decided that addressing any outstanding issues first made it much easier to focus on the other items.  This is the time of the meeting when we talk about the things that came up during the week.  Sometimes it's an argument that we agreed to table until the meeting, a hurtful comment one of us needed to share, an idea for a family project or vacation or anything else we didn't want to forget about but didn't have time to discuss throughout the week.  

Goal Check in

Every year we sit down as a family and set goals.  This is when we sit down and check in on how they are going.  For example this is when I update which books I finished that week or how many miles I ran.  It provides weekly accountability.  Sometimes it also means reevaluating those goals.  If week after week we fail to make progress on our goals, we take that as a sign that we need to change something.  Does that person need more resources or time?  Has that interest changed?  We also add relevant goal related tasks to our to do list.  I love having this early in the meeting because those are the first things on my to do list each week.

Discuss Last week

When we open our calendars, we usually take a minute to look over the last week just in case there was anything else we needed to discuss that didn't come up during our discussions.

Calendar & Schedule update

This is the majority of our meeting.  We compare work schedules, double check childcare arrangements, transportation, etc.  To make sure we don't miss anything we have a sub list that we review every week.

§  Work Schedule
In our family work schedules change from week to week, so this is when we talk about when we are working and make any necessary changes.

§  Activities 
This is when we discuss classes, appointments, parties, etc.  It's also when we add any related items to our task lists.

§  Athletic/Workouts
Because one of our family goals is to be more active, we started planning our runs, workouts, and family bike rides at the beginning of the week.

§  Special Events
Vacations, visitors or other things going on.

§  Chores/this week’s tasks
Any major cleaning or maintenance tasks that need to get done this week get added to the schedule

§  Group responsibilities
We participate in a variety of community and hobby organizations.  This is when we review each, from book club to church, to volunteering.

§Kids Activities
I'm always amazed at how such small people have such busy schedules!

Menu Planning & Grocery List

When we had more time and less to discuss, we used to make our menu for the week as a family.  Now we take turns, but we still take a minute to discuss it and make any last minute changes.


Each week we try to focus on getting one area of the house clean, this is when we assign chores for that area or anything else that needs done.

To Do lists

Unfortunately, we rarely fully complete our to do lists.  In order to support each other, we share what we didn't get done and offer help when we can.


We do our budget yearly, so this is just a check in to make sure everything is going as expected.  We also discuss any major bills or expenses coming up.


We have a list of projects, both personal, professional, and as a family.  We keep a full list in our family binder, but the few active projects are discussed at the end of the meeting and we make sure we know the next steps for each.  Examples of projects are "Remodeling Master Bedroom" "Prepare Taxes" "Find a Preschool" etc.  


Especially if involving children, I think it's great to end with a treat.  We used to have brownies, but since we made our recent dietary changes, Brownies are out!  I'm still on the lookout for a a great end of meeting treat!

For a look at the things we use in our family meeting, check out this post: Family Meeting hardware

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