Posts Tagged ‘ family meetings ’

Bruce Feiler, author of ‘The Secrets of Happy Families’ Gives Tips on Having a Family Meeting

Friday, March 15th, 2013

The Secrets of Happy Families by Bruce Feiler keeps popping up on Amazon’s bestseller lists, and it’s a really great book for tips and tricks that can immediately uplift your family’s function and mood. In his latest release, popular writer Feiler (Walking the Bible) looks in unconventional places for advice on domestic bliss. He adapts nuggets of wisdom from green berets, coaches, software engineers, business people and branding experts for everyday in-home use.

My favorite bit comes from a business program called agile development. You don’t need to know the fancy term. What it means is to have a good old-fashioned (maybe new-fashioned) family meeting once a week. We’re holding ours on Sundays before dinner, and this is genius. If the kids are crying too much at mealtimes, I don’t have to address it on the spot. We’ll discuss the issue as a group during the scheduled time. Every issue–good and bad–can be hashed out then when everyone is feeling warm, fuzzy and cooperative.

Feiler believes family meetings are great for parents with kids of all ages. But having them is trickier for those of us with really young ones. Feiler sent me a how-to guide that’s specifically geared to Parents readers:

You can start when they’re young, though it will be change as they get older.  Three tips:

Bruce Feiler’s Tips for Having a Family Meeting with Young Kids

1. Keep it short. No more than 20 minutes, maybe shorter with little kids.

2. Start with a short welcome game. We have someone lead with the sound Ma, Ma, Ma and others follow. Then we stop and say, “Welcome to the family meeting.” We end with the same game,  and then “Thank you for the family meeting.”

3. Ask the kids important questions–and listen to their answers. Examples are: “What worked well in our family this week? What didn’t go well?  What will we work on this week?” Have everyone give answers, then vote on two ideas to work on. Let the kids recommend the rewards and punishments.

I needed my 7-year-old twins to cooperate more with their daily to-dos such as piano lessons, walking the dog and doing their homework. I asked them for suggestions. They came up with a penny reward jar. Every time they go above and beyond their duties–with a good attitude–they earn one penny. Once they reach 20 pennies, they get to pick out a $20 toy.

Oh my. We follow the above rules perfectly starting with a silly “Welcome to Our Family Meeting” song that I made up on the spot. What a difference this family idea meeting has made. We’ve had much more peaceful evenings for seven straight days. Thank you, Bruce!

Add a Comment

‘Family Inc.’ Advises Us to Get Organized, Share To-Dos and Hold Family Meetings

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

Do you and your partner bicker during the week over who was supposed to do what? You thought he was going to pick up the presents for the neighbor’s birthday party, and he thought you were on top of your first grader’s science project? My husband and I clash over our calendar–we never know when and where we’re supposed to be until it’s almost time. We e double-book way too often.

The authors of Family Inc.: Office-Inspired Solutions to Reduce the Chaos in Your Home (and Save Your Sanity!), Caitlin and Andrew Friedman, say that squabbles like these are incredibly common. Luckily, couples do not need expensive therapy or endless examination. We simply need to get organized instead.

According to the authors, it’s efficient and painless to run a family like a business. You may have read about their strategies in the January issue of Parents in the story called “The Secrets of an Organized Family.” Check out the issue for detailed information on holding family meetings and doling out weekly chores. It’s crucial for a couple to check in for an hour once a week and figure out everything from who’s cooking, who’s paying the bills and who’s schlepping the kids to activities. Little kids can do chores as well–like setting the table, feeding the animals and putting the laundry in the hamper.

The book tells readers how to dig deep and get organized. Start by cleaning out your house. Get rid of stuff–donate and throw out what you and your kids don’t need right now so you can start your “company” with a clutter-free plate. Set aside one hour each week for that family meeting where you discuss anything and everything that needs to be addressed. Family Inc. includes tips for enjoying more down time (shave time off your errands and chores), sticking to the budget and smoothing out arguments (never fight when you’re tired!). It’s chock full of tips for everything from hiring a babysitter to finding more family time.

Want to get going right now? Try implementing a system for handling mail, receipts, documents and your schedules. Here are 10 Essential Items for Organization straight from the book.

1. bill caddy
2. file hangers and folders
3. accordion files (receipts)
4. family calendar
5. dry-erase board for kitchen
6. in-boxes
7. shredder
8. storage containers
9. shelvings (put shelves everywhere)
10. box of office supplies (pens, staplers, labels)

If you’re looking to streamline tedious everyday headaches, this book is for you. If you’re already super organized, the Friedmans give information for staying on the right track.

On a scale of 1 (forget about it) to 10 (award-winning), how organized is your household? Mine is hanging tight at a solid 5.

Add a Comment