Out of the blue, my 6 year old daughter asked me what she should do if our house caught on fire. She said, “Should I lock myself in my room?”
[Cue Mom’s mouth dropping open]
We really never discussed things like that. We practically suffocated our kids in conversations about eating healthy, being nice, and cleaning their rooms.
I thought back about how I knew, as a child, what to do during a house-fire.
I recalled that we had regular family meetings where we discussed things like house-fires, strangers, and what to do in other emergency situations.
Family meetings were a big part of my childhood. It was always a time for judgement-free discussions and a chance to openly voice your feelings in a forum where the rest of the family would be forced to listen.
Not only are family team meetings great opportunities to teach your kids about safety, they can be used to reduce the heavy mental load that mom’s carry around all day. And if you are like me, your about to burst at the seams.
I decided to go full-fledge nerd-mom and start regular family meetings. Here are tips for conducting an effective family meeting and a free agenda checklist.
1) Conduct the Meeting at an Appropriate Time and Place
Make sure all of your family will be present in the family meeting. To minimize distractions, pick a time when your children are not overly active, hungry, or distracted.
We chose to conduct our meeting after dinner, at a location at our home where distractions were minimal.
Related: How to Talk to Kids About Scary World Events
2) Lay Down Some Ground-rules
At the beginning of our meeting, we review these 3 super simple rules:
- Listen to everyone – never interrupt
- Respect what everyone is saying
- Do not judge each other
3) Create an Agenda to Keep the Conversation In Order
You can create your own agenda, or you can print and use ours below. Our meetings typically last about 10 minutes, and the kids get actively involved.
Depending on your family dynamic and age, you may have different topics. My children are all under 10; therefore, the topics on the agenda below were best for us.
Topics we discuss include:
Address/phone number recollection
My husband and I make sure our children all know (or at least practice) our address and phone number, in case they are ever lost or need it.
One thing my parents ingrained as me as a kid was what to do if there is a fire in our home. I thankfully never needed that information, but I realized that we never discussed this with our kids.
To set up an emergency action plan for your family, click here!
During family meetings we review the following fire safety tips, recommended by the American Red Cross:
- If you are on fire: stop, drop, and roll
- If there is a smoke in the house, get low to the ground and get out (do not grab any toys or belongings!)
- Get out of the house and go to the family designated meeting place (across the street in our neighbors driveway)
Print these fire safety worksheets to teach your kids these important lessons.
This is also a good time to talk about other safety topics, such as strangers (don’t talk to strangers, etc) or what to do in case of weather emergencies.
Family Events and Upcoming Activities
This is a fun part of the meeting to talk about upcoming birthdays and family events to look forward to.
Issues or Concerns
The “what’s troubling you?” part of the family meeting is a time to openly talk about any issues or conflicts inside and outside of the family. It should be a judgement-free time, where everyone listens to the speaker’s concerns.
4) Delegate, Delegate, Delegate
With your family together, it is the perfect time to divide duties and set expectations.
For example, explain to your children that they are expected to make their beds every morning and bring their plates to the sink after they eat.
You have an audience, use it to reduce your mental load.
5) Talk About Next Steps
At the end of the meeting, we decide if there are any “take-away” items we need to work on. We also discuss when we should aim for our next family meeting to take place.
You can decide if your family meeting should be monthly, annually, or any frequency in between.
Family meetings give your tribe a chance for an open discussion to talk about important topics that your children need to learn. It also gives a fun reason for quality family time. During these conversations, our kids open up about topics they don’t usually talk about.
Our kids take our family meetings very seriously and get very excited for them. It looks like I raised my very own tiny little nerds, following in Mommy’s footsteps. And I couldn’t be happier about that!
Are there other topics you would add to your family meeting? I’d love to hear in the comments below!
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Monday 23rd of January 2023
We're having our first family meeting tonight. I've run plenty of meetings in groups or work and i had a light bulb moment last week at the scout meeting that we should do this as a family! We're foster parents and have my mother living with us AND we're extremely busy so it started as a way to review the upcoming week but i also want to include things that went well, giving kudos, what each person wants to work on for themselves, changes in chores, problems anyone might have and i love the idea of each meeting tell us what you did to help someone from the previous week. I hope it goes well! Lol
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I have a household where there's teenagers and toddlers so topics like the dreaded sex talk "birds and bees" would be appropriate for teenagers as well as identifying what bullying looks like which can be helpful to both groups of kiddos. But as for the little ones, we might have more conversations about how it's important to keep our hands to ourselves which could also be a good refresher for the older boys as well.. lol I also believe that teaching our kids to be kind and to do good deeds without any form of reward is also a must because it shows them how to have compassion for others as well as satisfies their need of wanting to help. My older boys will hold the door for just about anyone and will help others when the need presents itself. I have taken alot of pride in teaching them compassion because it's so rarely seen nowadays.
Monday 18th of July 2022
I love all of your suggestions and in other posts I write about doing anonymous good deeds for people. It's so important! Thanks for commenting!!
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[…] A great way to set these ground rules is to conduct a family meeting. Click here for simple tips to conducting an effective family meeting, and a free printable agenda. […]