During the first few years of our marriage, Joe and I had a significant amount of autonomy. We always stayed aware of each other's schedules, but we never had to involve the other person in the details much beyond checking to make sure that our plans didn'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 we finally decided that we needed weekly family meetings. Our weekly meetings are 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 rescheduled, 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. They're not very formal and they usually take place in the car on Sunday nights while we are on our way home from spending time with family. But they keep us on the same page as a couple and help us avoid any potential conflicts in our schedules and with each other during the week.
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!
Five Tips for Family Meetings
Hold your meetings at 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 both of us will always be home. On the rare occasion that we aren't able to meet, we move our meeting to a time as close to our original meeting as possible.
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. I always have my planner in front of me when we talk so that I can put our events in there and make note of the things that Joe has going on as well. Joe uses google calendar, so after our meetings, I make sure to send him an invite for any events that affect him.
Discuss the budget
We use our meeting time to make sure that we're on the same page with our money as well. I add all of our transactions from the previous week into the budgeting app on my phone sometime before our meeting and then open the app during our meeting. This is usually just a quick check in to see how we're doing on our monthly budget and discuss any changes that need to be made or any big purchase that we'll be making in the coming week.
Meet as a family afterward
Those of you who have kids might find it beneficial to have a bigger family meeting after you've met and are on the same page as a couple. Use this time to talk about events that you have planned for the family in the coming week, let your kids know what night you've scheduled for date night and who is scheduled to babysit them, and make sure that all of the kids' extracurricular activities and plans are accounted for on the calendar as well. In our home, this meeting would be held on Monday after family night, and we plan to start doing this when our kid are just a little bit older.
Don't focus too much on the serious stuff
Couple "business" 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. When you're meeting as a family, 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 marriage and your family. Find a way to make these meetings special for your with a treat or activity. I'm excited to continue our weekly meetings and use them to keep our home organized and running smoothly for years to come.
Do you have a tradition of family or couple meetings already? What tips would you add to this list?
Photography by Sadie Banks Photography