During the first few years of our marriage, Joe and I had a significant amount of autonomy in our marriage. We've always stayed aware of each other's schedules, but we've never had to involve the other person in the details much beyond checking to make sure that our plans don't interfere with something that was already planned. Changes in work schedules, group meetings for school projects, time spent with friends, etc. were communicated to each other, just to check in.
After Bensen came along, it quickly became apparent that in order to maintain our personal schedules, we would need to communicate about them more often and in more detail. It took a few months, but I finally decided that we needed weekly family meetings. They're not very formal, they usually take place in the car on Sunday nights while we are on our way home from spending time with family. Our family meetings are mainly a time to make sure that we don't have any conflicts on our personal schedules and that if we do, and those events can't be reschedules, we have someone lined up to take care of Bensen. We also take the time to confirm date night plans, talk about any changes in our regular schedule, discuss our budget, communicate expectations and have companion inventory if needed.
This is a tradition that we can continue as our family grows. We still run into things during the week that could have run more smoothly if we'd remembered to discuss it earlier in the week, but the more we meet, the better our weeks go. If you don't already have a tradition of family meetings and want to start one, here are a few ideas to make the more successful!
Hold your meetings the same time each week
When you're planning your meeting time, be sure to take everyone's schedules into account. If you plan your meetings for a day and time when you know that everyone is home most of the time, you will be more likely to follow through every week. Joe and I have our meetings on Sunday nights, when we know that times one of us won't be home are extremely rare.
Bring your calendar
This one is the most important! Everyone should bring their personal calendars and if you have a family calendar posted somewhere in your house, you can add to that during the meeting. Joe uses google calendar, so after our meetings, I make sure to send him an invite for any events that affect him.
Meet as a couple first
For those of you who have kids, it would be beneficial to have a mini meeting together before you gather the entire family. Use this time to talk about your schedules and the things that are not negotiable if they come up during the meeting. Make sure that you've planned date night and time together every day.
Don't focus too much on the serious stuff
Family meetings are a great time to align your schedules and talk about any obstacles that have come up the previous week, but it's also a great time to plan some fun. Plan family outings, future vacations and talk about your plans for upcoming holidays. Let everyone share something that they would love to see added to meal plan for the next week or month. Set goals, recognize family members for their achievements, etc.
Weekly meetings are a tradition that can be fun at the same time as being beneficial to your family. Find a way to make these meetings special for your family with a treat or activity. I'm excited to continue family meetings and use them to keep our home organized and running smoothly in years to come.
Enduring All Things has a great Weekly Couple Check-in Cheat Sheet. Head over here to get yours!
Do you have a tradition of family meetings already? What tips would you add to this list?