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Family Meetings - how we do it

Family Meetings: how we do it! People often ask me how I manage 6 kids and 2 companies. The simple answer is that I am good a juggling a lot of chaos, but the real answer is organization of many varieties.  But . . the best thing we started this year was our Family Meetings to get things under control. I am very lucky to belong to a CEO group that meets once year to learn about leadership, philanthropy, life balance, you name it, we attempt to learn about it.  I then bring back the relevant ideas to my company and my family. Usually, the first night I am back, the kids love to hear about the interesting speakers,  what I did, who I met with;  (and of course they want the t-shirts I inevitably bring back). This year I was grateful to hear 2 speakers talk about family meetings.  Both of these men raised, with their wives of course, 7 kids each and are highly successful businessmen. For years in our house, the morning looked like this: we get up, rush around and literally run out the door. (lunches are typically made the night before, most times) and almost always no-one has breakfast. I innocently asked; who would like to have breakfast? A roaring sound of “ME” came out. To be honest, I had no idea anyone wanted to stop and eat; because we were way to busy rushing. (bad mom) We instituted the Family Meeting the very next morning at our house (with breakfast). Start time 7:20: End- 7:30. We got up a few minutes early to be dressed, ready to go and meet on time at 7:20. The first day was remarkable. Everyone up and ready, and my 11-son and husband made breakfast for everyone. WOW! It was fantastic! We decided to have a “check in” to get the meeting started. But to do that, we decided to use our Grateful Book as our meeting journal. The Grateful Book is our very large book that sits out on the table for everyone in our house to write down what they are grateful for (when they feel like it). It even serves as our unofficial House Guest Book, because nearly everyone who comes over writes in it. It has created a wonderful family and friend life document. Part of the meeting plan is to not only eat breakfast as a family, but to discuss and plan our day; who is going where, activities, rides home, tests, you name it, it is discussed. Step 1:  check-in. Who ever is the “scribe” of the book (the person who writes in the book and this changes each day) determines how to do roll call. For example: I might say: It is a fantastic day: I am here! Then we go around the table and everyone states the same thing (down to our then 4 year old, he is 5 now). Step 2: start eating and go around the table and everyone says what they are grateful for. This is then written in the book. My 4 year old might say (baseball) and my 14 year old might say, (going to a movie tonight). I might say (yea, it’s Friday). Step 3: discuss the day Step 4: finish eating, tidy up kitchen, and if not calmly, at least not running now, we leave for school. If for some reason the breakfast meeting does not happen and about once a week or so it doesn’t, we then move the meeting to dinner. We just want to make it a habit to meet when everyone is present. If someone is not there, or if I am traveling, I will call in if I can or we note in the book where they are. The family meetings have made a difference in how we manage ourselves and treat each other. And the kids get breakfast. (good mom) Have a wonderful weekend. Jennifer, trukid founder and mom of 6            
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