I have this idealistic vision in my head about family meetings.
In a perfect world, we would all finish dinner on a Sunday night, and while the children clear off the table, us parents would pull up next week’s calendar and prepare the necessary discussions:
- Who has activities?
- When are they?
- What time?
- How long is the commute with traffic?
- Who will take which kid to where?
This will then lead into practicalities, like what time someone needs to eat. I discourage pick-up (take-away) food, especially prior to hockey (all that salt and fat will just make him sluggish) so it’s about home cooked meals.
Which then leads me to dwell on what to cook. And before that, what groceries to buy.
I’m not convinced the family here understands how many components there are just to the dinner equation alone, never mind all the other intricacies (homework, public transit delays, commutes).
And I’m a SAHM. I work occasionally and mostly part time when I do, so if you’re doing this while working full-time, which I know many are (hats off to you), I can understand why there are so many long line ups at the drive-throughs near the rinks.
The reality is, my formal family meeting ideas are not met with much enthusiasm. They would rather fly by the seat if their pants, roll with it, and wing it.
My husband manages to run his life quite well that way, and the kids, my son especially, see that as the less stressful way to deal with things. He sees that his dad always gets things done, even if he leaves it to the last minute.
Some people are like that. Not sure this is a good way to live life as a busy teenager…also, although my husband has standards for his responsibilities, my son sometimes (not always) prefers the quick and easy way, which will lead to less optimal results. This affects school work and chores…and doesn’t make this mama happy.
I am not like them. I plan and follow lists and wing it if I must but prefer at least a general idea what is upcoming the next day.
So for us to meet halfway, I had to explain things a little further to both the husband and the kids.
Like the food component…I get that it’s easier to call for delivery, but when you start to add up the amount of money you spend on pizza or roasted chickens from Swiss Chalet, not to mention the effects on your waistline, well, let’s just say it took a while to sink in.
“We need to talk about next week,” I say to them, pulling up Google calendar with everyone’s stuff assigned in their own colour.
And then I make notes. Mostly for myself.
In terms of planning for assignments, especially now that they’re older with more homework on the horizon, the kids will have to step it up a notch. Like yesterday, I pulled a kid onto the couch with me while activating my calendar on my phone.
“You have a hockey tournament and baseball tryouts in the next couple of weeks,” I said to my teen. “Use your planner for deadlines and tests so you can get your studying in.”
The other kid is mastering this slightly better, but needs a bit more guidance. She learned last year that getting something done early is almost always better, thereby reducing anxiety and stress (for her and for all of us).
So does it work, this informal planning ahead?
So far, we did it once already. This time, however, we had to discuss a new element for planning purposes:
The detox has begun. During school days, there is no gaming at all which means come Friday, the boy will disappear into the basement and turn into a zombie. 😂
Unfortunately, we had to reinforce that homework due on the following Monday will take precedence over fortnite on Friday night (or on weekends).
Negotiations commenced immediately:
“You could just give me time to play during the week to make up for it!”
Yes, I could.
But will I?
Depends on many factors, now, doesn’t it. 😛
That’s just the way the cookie crumbles.
Do you plan weekly family meetings? Does it work or do you just find a way to work around them? Do you have any tips to share?