In family life, love is the oil that eases friction, the cement that binds closer together, and the music that brings harmony.
– Eva Burrows
Does your family hold a regular family meeting? We started holding one a couple of years ago and started some traditions that are still family favorites… “candle night,” the “smiley under the plate” and getting downright silly with the kids in “knock your socks off.” At the end of the post, you’ll find 10 other ideas for keeping your family close, but first a little bit about holding a family meeting…
We started holding family meetings when the kids were 4, 6 and 8. It has been a real positive experience for our family. We use this as an opportunity to share good feelings, to talk about what’s going well in our family, to brainstorm ideas that might make our family work better as a team, to talk about things we’d like to be going better and probably most importantly of all, to have fun together. We want the kids to know they have a real (and important) voice in the family.
Here were some guideline we first came across about family meetings:
- Meet Regularly
- Make an Agenda or List of Topics to be Discussed
- Plan the Time (so you can do something fun immediately after)
- Take Turns
- Limit complaints
- Take Notes
Meet Regularly: Our aim is to meet once a month, but to be honest this only happens every other month or so. At least that’s a start.
Agenda: Hubby and I usually jot down some topics for discussion and leave space to take notes as each person contributes. Here was last Sunday’s agenda:
- Say something nice about somebody else.
- Talk about things that are going well in our family
- What are some ideas to make family life better?
- Upcoming Family Events/Family Calendar (we talked about our upcoming trips)
- In what ways do we feel like a team?
- What ways can we get along better?
- How can we all pitch in more around the house?
Other ideas you might include in your family meeting:
- kids’ activities (what they like, what they don’t, how it affects your family time)
- chores/jobs around the house
- time spent on electronics
- goals you are working toward (individually and/or as a family)
- extended family & how to stay close (letters, art, phone calls, special trips)
- things you’ve noticed from the week (help that was given, chores that were done unsolicited)
- Need more ideas? I came across a post called Family Meeting Topics that might be helpful especially if your kids are older than mine.
First we talked about each point in our agenda as I took notes. Then I read out the notes from our previous meeting if they added anything relevant to the conversation.
Something nice: DD and LD said they were proud of ED for making it to the top of the rope at gymnastics (about 40 feet in the air which she had done for the first time earlier in the week). Even ED chimed in nice things, “Mom cooks great food.” [I don’t know about that, but it’s cute for her to say!]
Things that are going well: The kids love “candle night” when we turn out all the lights during dinner. They also love when we do the hidden smiley face under a plate. (pictured right) Everyone sits down and checks under the bottom of their plate. We go around the table saying lots of nice things about the person who has the sticker under his/her plate for that meal. You should see how much the person glows when we all talk about them, their strengths and the positive things we’ve noticed about them lately.
Some of our ideas for making family life better: to make sure we each clear away all our dishes after every meal/snack; to actually put shoes into the basket; to put laundry away promptly; to make labels for where things go.. and things like that.
When we talked about what ways we could get along better, the kids had some honest comments about not saying “Noooooo ” (in a whiny voice) when someone wants to play something they’re not interested but to use a nicer tone of voice (I thought that was really insightful!)
As I said before, the most important part of the family meeting from our perspective is the family funthat comes at the end of the meeting. We actively spend time doing something together which creates a close family bond, makes kids happy to do the family meeting, and builds fond memories together. A couple times this year, we all put lots of fun ideas into a jar and pulled out one or two to do as a family. The kids especially loved the game we played one time after our Family Meeting called “Knock your Socks Off.” We all crawled around on hands and knees trying to protect the socks from being pulled off our own feet while trying to go after and remove the socks from other members of the family. The last person to survive with a sock still on won the round. We all roared in laughter and we still talk about that game all the time! Some of the other things in our jar? go hiking, lay in the grass to relax, play tickle monster (tag), mummy wrap, go to a park, play board games, do a family craft, go bowling, go to a restaurant, read books in front of the fireplace, go to a museum…
This time we decided ahead of time what we were going to do and didn’t pull from the jar. LD and ED really wanted to go bowling while DD wanted to go on a hike. We decided to do both (with a trip to DQ in between!).
Bowling with the Family
Followed by a hike at a park. We came across an owl, deer, a beaver and a couple of foxes (it was in the evening so the wildlife was quite active) in addition to this pretty little waterfall.
And other ways to keep your family bonds tight and strong:
- Write notes to one another and leave it on their pillow.
- Have a family game’s night. (You can see some of our favorite family games here.)
- Do meaningful things as a family. Volunteer in the community. Go on a walk and pick up trash in your neighborhood or at your local park.
- Have a strong community of support (beyond your family). Attend (or organize) neighborhood barbecues, block party or picnic. Participate in a church, temple or mosque.
- Go on a family bike ride or walk in the neighborhood together.
- Hold hands, hug, snuggle and sit close.
- Sing songs together as a family.
- Go on family trips. It doesn’t have to be far, it doesn’t have to be expensive, but create a history together.
- Look through old family photos together and talk about some of your favorite family memories. Ask questions that start with, “Do you remember the time…”
- Make time for your spouse and keep your marriage close.
- Support one another, not just emotionally, but also help with odd jobs and chores.
- Talk about problems and keep the lines of communication open.
Do you have some other good ideas to keep the family close? Come tell us at our Homeschool Facebook Page!
Image: Family via Shutterstock
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