I have been told by many people on the same Facebook thread that weekly family meetings are a great way for families to come together, communicate clearly, and take charge of the coming week.
So we tried it. On Saturday, July 28, at 3:00 pm on the dot, we gathered around the train table for our first family meeting. In advance of the meeting, I prepared an itinerary and some general goals.
Introduce concept of family meeting and welcome all members of family.
In which each member of the family goes around the circle and says something that he or she appreciates about every other person, including him or herself.
3. Week Ahead:
a) Menu requests
b) Upcoming events
c) Outing requests
In which each member of the family has an opportunity to answer the question: "Are you having a problem that the family can help you with?"
In which each member of the family eats a cookie.
Total Meeting Duration - 10-15 minutes
Projected Meeting Results - Immediate cessation of all hostilities between Chicken and Buster; Katie reverse-ages 10 years; Ryan stops daydreaming about getting stuck in traffic on his way home for dinner.
Katie: Welcome to our first family mee--
Buster: (drives fire truck into the kitchen) HOOOONK HOOOOONK!
Ryan: Buster? Buddy? Come back and sit down please!
Katie: So we're going to start doing weekly family meetings--
Ryan: Buster, come have a seat with me. We're having family meeting.
Buster: No! NNNNNO!
Chicken: Buster's not sitting down.
Ryan: (sighs, gets up to bring Buster into the playroom, carries him back and holds him on his lap)
Buster: (screams and slides boneless from Ryan's lap onto the floor, rolls away like a Navy SEAL under a trip wire and scampers back into the kitchen) Dank you byeeeeee!
Katie: Don't worry about it. We'll just... it's fine.
Chicken: But Buster's part of the family!
Ryan: Technically, yes.
Katie: I bet if we start the meeting he'll come back in and join us.
Katie: SO! Like I said, welcome to our first family meeting!
Buster: BE RIGHT BACK GONNA WASH THIS! (carries fire truck into the bathroom)
Katie: So now we're going to do appreciations. I'll go first. Chicken, I appreciate the way you've been doing your morning checklist to get out the door. It helps me so much when you get dressed and go to the potty all by yourself. I'm really proud of you. Buster, I appreciate--
Buster: WOOOOOF! WOOOOOF! (slams fire truck down on top of plastic dog repeatedly) OOOOH NOOOOO! (makes crying sounds)
Katie: Um... I really appreciate your visceral imagination, buddy. I love that. Ryan, I appreciate the way you remind me to take care of myself. Thank you. And, um... okay, about myself, I guess I appreciate the way I've been working on not yelling so much. Okay! Who wants to go next?
Katie: Great! OK, go ahead.
Chicken: Mommy? I appreciate... um... you not yelling. And Buster likes books. And Daddy, I like all of Daddy. And about myself, I like my imaginings.
Katie: I like all of those things too, baby. OK, Buster, do you want to go around and tell everyone something you like?
Katie: Buster, what do you like about Daddy?
Katie: OK! Thank you Buster! Ryan? Go ahead?
Ryan: Chicken, I appreciate how you've been going potty so well, that's awesome. Buster, I like how you have been snuggling so much. Kate, I appreciate how engaged you are with the world and how much you advocate for the things you believe in. And about myself, I appreciate the way I've rebounded from a crappy week last week.
Katie: I appreciate that, too, babe. OK! Moving on!
Buster: GOT YOU! (tackles Katie)
3. Week Ahead
Katie: Is there anything anyone would like for dinner next week?
Chicken: Hmmmm... let me thiiiiiiiiink...
Ryan: I'd like to clean out the fridge a little bit, maybe do a stir fry to clean up all those stray veggies?
Katie: Stir fry, got it. Chicken, anything?
Chicken: (Leans back on arm of couch, legs crossed, his fingers inerlaced over the top knee) Stiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiilllll thiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinking.........
Katie: OK. Buster? Anything you want for dinner?
Buster: Dinner time?
Ryan: No no, honey, it's not dinner time. We're just asking if there's a meal that you'd like to eat this week.
Chicken: (Upside down on the couch, tapping his finger on his chin) STIIIIILLLL THIIIIIIIINKIIIIING HHHHMMMMMMMMMM.
Katie: Cake. Check. Chicken? Last call, buddy.
Chicken: I'm ready. For breakfast, I would like rainbow sprinkle pancakes with sliced strawberries on the side. For lunch, spaghetti and noodles but the angel hair noodles and no vegetables and for dinner spaghetti and noodles but the fatter noodles and no vegetables too.
Katie: You know what? All of that is doable. No problem.
Katie: Next, any upcoming events! Ryan?
Ryan: Nope, regular week here.
Katie: I have work on Wednesday so Grandma will be here to hang with the boys.
Chicken: She WILL make me spaghetti.
Katie: I'll take care of the spaghetti, babe. Moving on, OK, so any outing requests this week boys? Anywhere you want to go? Anything you want to do?
Chicken: I'd like to go to the Zoo and the Children's Museum and the Airplane Museum and do some art with paint and glitter.
Katie: Okaaaaaay... we can do... some of that.
Buster: Watch Chuggington?
Katie: Done. Yes. Chugs is on the list.
Ryan: Jugs is on the list?
Katie: CHugs. CH. CHUGS. Like Chuggington.
Ryan: Oh. Can I put jugs on the list? That sounds like a fun outing.
Chicken: What's jugs?
Buster: HONKA HORN! WOOOO WOOOOOO.
Katie: Chicken, do you have any problems that the family can help you solve?
Chicken: Well... (farts) I don't like when Buster (farts) messes up the stuff I'm (farts) playing with.
Katie: Okay. Um, Chicken, do you have to poop?
Chicken: (farts) Nope.
Katie: Maybe we should try.
Chicken: (farts) I just asked my body and it said no poops just farts.
Katie: Sometimes farting is your body's way of telling you that it needs to poop.
Chicken: I'm only pushing air out of my anus Mommy, no poops. See? (Shows me)
Katie: Ooooooh! Yes! I do see that. Except... WOAH actually I do see a poop so STAND UP DON'T PUSH let's go right now, RIGHT NOW HERE WE GO.
|chicken: this is my sign|
let me just take a quick picture
for the blog
Katie: Okay! So, Chicken, we were talking about... what is that smell?
Buster: Looka meeeee!
Katie: Did you poop, buddy?
Ryan: Come on, let's change your diaper.
Buster: NO! NO NO NO NO NO...
POOP INTERMISSION PART 2
Katie: OK, so Chicken and I were talking about this and we decided we are going to try to take turns when building with Buster, and if Chicken is working on something that he really wants to do alone he can do it in his room. Sound good, Chicken?
Chicken: Yeah! That sounds awesome!
Katie: My problem is that Chicken won't walk on the hardwood floors or linoleum which makes it hard for him to get to the bathroom or into the kitchen. Chicken, can you try wearing your tiger slippers this week and see how that goes?
Ryan: My problem is that I don't like when the dishwasher sits empty all day and the dishes just go in the sink.
Katie: I can make that a priority. Chicken, will you help me load the dishes too?
Buster: ME TOO ME TOO ME TOO MY TURN
Katie: And... Buster can be captain of the spoons! Sound good?
Katie: SPOON. SSSSSSSSPOON.
Buster: POON CAP'N! POON CAP'N!
Katie: This is happening.
Buster: I POON CAP'N!
Katie: HEY Buster? Any problems the family can help you with?
Buster: Hassome cookies?
fighting over a remote control
that doesn't even have batteries in it
chicken pretends it's a massager
buster pretends they're binoculars
Actual Meeting Duration: 40 minutes, but 30 minutes of that was poop intermission.
Actual Meeting Results: Two solid shits, plus the boys learned the word "jugs" and "poon."