When BJ and I got married, we were both attending masters programs, we both had jobs (I had three) and we were involved in our church. Life was busy! We began a practice of having time to coordinate calendars and plan our time. We didn’t have a council every week but the weeks we met were smoother.
As our children have grown, we have added to this tradition. We researched how to hold family councils and added some ideas to our weekly calendaring sessions. During this time we discuss activities, review past events and plan our time together. We also discuss behavior, chores, or other family business.
We also distribute money at the family council. That is for another blog post, but the money motivates the reluctant teens to attend.
How to Hold Family Councils
After reading The Secrets of Happy Families: Improve Your Mornings, Rethink Family Dinner, Fight Smarter, Go Out and Play, and Much More by Bruce Feiler I was prompted to add a few more items to our list. In the book, Feiler discussed questions inspired by Agile (see my post here to learn about that) that can be asked at each family meeting. Agile is a software development methodology designed for collaboration from all involved and not just management.
- What went well in our family this week?
- What didn’t go well in our family?
- What could we do better next week?
This method of reviewing the productivity of a family is similar to the review of productivity as a development team. After all, isn’t our goal the development of individuals who can function in society, who can leave the nest and live independently?
So asking these questions allows all family members to have a say in the development and focus of the family.
With these questions, we were able to hear our children voice their opinion about rules, chores and the occasions where mom or dad lost their temper.
Family Council Improves Vacations
A few weeks ago we were on vacation at the beach. When asked what went well the children responded:
- Boogie boarding (we destroyed the boards from so much fun and we need new ones)
- Nightly games (they wanted more next year)
- Grace’s birthday at the beach
- Set up and take down of the tents
When we asked what didn’t go well they told us:
- Hot afternoons created tired, hot children who didn’t want to swim anymore
- Not enough shower time
- Rashes from too much boogie boarding
When asked what we can do better next year the children said they wanted:
- More ice cream!
- Friends to hang with on the beach
- More game nights
- A broom to sweep out the tents
- And they want us to look into renting an RV for next year. They thought that would solve the problem of afternoons because they could have air conditioning and a movie afternoon.
I loved getting all this feedback on our vacation. The kids love this yearly trip but we want to make it better each year. So BJ and I will consider the items for improvement.
A family council is an important part of our weekly routine. And the bonus: family game night begins right after family council!
How do you hold family councils?