My husband Rory and I recently added a weekly meeting into the mix at our house, and folks, this is a game-changer for us. Now that we have it, I have no idea how we were functioning without it. And actually, the answer is that we weren’t really functioning! Too many things felt last-minute, poorly planned and frustrating.
We meet on Sunday afternoon when the kids are napping or having quiet time. That is key. No kids are invited to our family meeting. One day when they are older, I’d love for them to be a part, but for now they are just too little. And this stuff is too important to wait to have our meeting after they go to bed at night. We are spent by then, so we have to meet during the day.
We start by going over our calendars. We look out a month or two, going over big things that need to be discussed. We talk about things added to the calendar in the last week, or things we’d like to add. And we walk day-by-day through the week ahead. I keep a separate “to do list” while we meet and Rory does, too. We schedule in a date night if that feels needed and all the while I keep a running list of babysitter needs. For most of my motherhood I have been the mom who texts every girl in town with a 24-hour notice. I sound super desperate (because I am!) and it’s embarrassing. This little part of the meeting has eliminated 90 percent of those desperate texts.
Then we talk about projects we would like to see get done. THIS IS AMAZING. We used to bring these ideas up scattered throughout the week as we thought of them, and then weeks later we would be frustrated that no progress had been made. The first week we met I said I’d like curtains for our living room. Two weeks later, we had them hung because we were on the same page and had talked through why this was a priority. It only took us two years of living in our home and two weeks of better communication to get it done!
We then talk about people in our lives we wish we saw more, and we try to figure out how to see them. This takes intention! We realized quickly our life is busier than we had thought, because we have a running list but not a lot of open evenings. We want to change that.
Then it’s on to general concerns, probably the most important part of the meeting. This is the time when something that happened during the week can come up in a nice, civil, levelheaded way. There was a Friday morning when I was on the phone for a good long while, contesting a bill with my doctor’s office. The kids were watching TV and Rory asked me, “What is the upper limit for TV watching for our kids?” Fresh off the phone with a crabby business lady at my doctor’s office, I flew off the handle at his question. “Upper Limit?! However long I want them to sit there so I can fight this bill!” That was my answer. But he really wanted to know. So we added this category to the Family Meeting Agenda. Because in the context of the family meeting, I don’t have to get as defensive as I do in the moment. It’s a fair question, and we can talk about it like grown-ups then.
Then it’s on to meal planning. This is the best fix I have found to my lack of desire to ever do this on my own. With our calendars out we look at the week. If Rory is going to be gone we plan something very basic. If I am home all day, I plan a meal that involves more prep. If we have small group that night and Bible study that morning we plan on having a frozen pizza. I write out our meal plan on a template I found online and I make the grocery list as we talk through menu items. Rory tells me what he’s in the mood for, and I love the suggestions. And all week long I LOVE myself because there is a plan that has been thought out so that I don’t have to think of something on the spot. It’s amazing.
And finally we go over the budget. I’m not kidding that I pray before and after we talk through the budget, because our budget conversations can get a little nit-picky. Rory asks me questions like, “Do you remember what you bought at Target on 10/19 for $58.93?” And then he wants me to try to itemize what I bought. Oh, Lord, I need you now. So we pray. I pray for patience. I pray thanksgiving for all that we have been given. I pray that we would always be wise with what God has given us. And then we talk through it and the whole time I know I have to pray after this conversation, so I better keep my words nice. It works! (And I have started keeping an envelope in the Jeep to hold my Target receipts so he can itemize to his heart’s content.)
You know, every single business I have ever worked for has weekly meetings. How we were running a household without having one, with a set agenda, now blows my mind. We are running a machine here, keeping all the details of family life in order. And to have Rory’s undivided attention for one hour, and for him to have mine, has made A WORLD of difference for us.
Maybe you already do this. Maybe you do something similar. But if you don’t do anything, I cannot recommend it enough. I even wish Rory and I had started this before we had kids. The routine of it is just as important as the actual communication that happens. I now keep a little list on the calendar of things to bring up. I know that when I bring it up on Sunday we will be in our right minds.
The meetings are getting shorter, as well. Our first two were about an hour because there was so much to cover. But now we’re in a groove, and even going over the budget is a lot faster, because it’s only been seven days since we looked at it last.
Hope this is helpful. Here’s to may more happy family meetings!
Guest Contributor Becca Groves is a stay-at-home mom to two awesome kids, Ivar and Elsie. She and her husband, Rory, live on a hobby farm where they keep bees, tap maple trees, have chickens and kittens and a garden. She blogs about her adventures in motherhood, marriage and hobby farming at joyfullybecca.com.