I am constantly struggling to find effective ways to keep up with our lives and manage our household despite the fact that with each passing day, there seems to be less time to do it all than the day before. One of my family’s most recent successes has been a weekly family planning meeting right after Sunday dinner. Each of us grabs our calendars and schedules and we sit down at the table as soon as we’ve cleaned up from dinner. At our family meeting, we discuss three things: Upcoming Events, Menu for the Week, and Chores for the Week and record it all on our family meeting planner.
Each member of the family takes a turn going over their events/activities for the upcoming week. We write any new events on the family calendar and review existing entries to make sure time and location details are correct. For the purposes of staying completely in sync, we also write in practices, meetings, and events that occur on a regular basis that don’t usually make it onto our big calendar (e.g. gymnastics practice, piano lessons, volunteer duty at school). Each person (except for the youngest because she doesn’t have a phone or iPod yet) is responsible for also entering his or her information into Cozi, the app we use to coordinate our schedules, to-do lists, and shopping lists. [Side note: Though I do include a lot of affiliate links on my site, this is actually NOT an affiliate link for Cozi. I’m not trying to persuade you to use them. It IS what my family uses because it’s easy to use and really helps keep our activities synced.]
Menu for the Week
Each person in the family gets to select the dinner menu for one night during the week. This serves three purposes. First, it takes the pressure off of me to do all the menu planning. Second, it empowers each member so that at least one night a week, they know they will like what’s being served for dinner. And third, it helps me to finalize a menu plan before my Monday grocery trip. With six members in the family, that leaves us with one night reserved for leftovers or eating out/ordering in. As we discuss the dinner menu for the week, I also accept other grocery shopping “suggestions.” This is when I get feedback on what types of breakfast, lunch, and snack items the kids prefer.
Chores for the Week (To Do List)
My kids have specific duties for which they are always responsible. Each of them is expected to make their beds each day, bring down their dirty laundry, put their clean laundry away, and clean up the kitchen after dinner. In addition, each of my children has specific chores assigned to them based on age. My teen son has weed whacking duty and is responsible for taking out the kitchen garbage, my younger son is responsible for emptying all of the other garbage bins in the house, my teen daughter has litter box duty, and the youngest is responsible for feeding the dogs. These chores don’t go on our list because they are assumed.
However, if the car has moved past functional family vehicle into potential science experiment, cleaning the car is assigned to a few family members. Likewise, if the house is in post-flu season, we’ll add disinfecting all phones, doorknobs, and light switches to the chore list. If we have a big event coming up, shopping for supplies or gifts goes on the to-do list.
Family Meeting Planner
When we started our family meetings, I would just update our big family calendar app and our Cozi files and then scratch out the menu on a piece of paper so I could later write my grocery list. As we started tracking chores and our collective to-do list, I realized I needed a better system so I developed a family meeting planner sheet that I put on the refrigerator after we’ve filled it in each week. Now, we have an easy at-a-glance visual aid to keep us on track in a central location where we see it several times a day. This has put an end to countless questions about “What’s for dinner?” “What time will you be home?” or “Has anyone brought up the bin of 4th of July decorations?”.
It’s amazing to me how this one piece of paper can make such a big difference in how well our family runs. I hope it works for your family too!