I called our first family meeting tonight. I've been going in so many directions lately, and not doing anything very well, that I had to take some definitive measures. This morning, 15 minutes before my son had to walk out the door for school, I realized that it was Thursday, and the day he had to turn in his homework - homework that we had not completed! We sat down and finished it, threw it in his backpack and he rushed off to class. I do NOT want this to be my children's reality. This is not how he should view homework and it certainly isn't going to help him learn! I hate how scattered I've become lately, and I want to give them more calmness and teach them the skills to be in control of their lives and their time. Of course this means that I, too, will have to be in control of MY time.
Our first meeting tonight was to discuss how we could reach this lofty goal. One of the main time drains for me is the constant picking up and cleaning of the house. I'll start the dishes, run to do a little work on the computer, walk into the dining room and start attacking stacks of mail, go to the kitchen for a drink picking up toys on my way, only to find the dishes half done sitting in cold water. So I'll start the dishes again, and the whole thing starts over. Thus, my first agenda item was Taking Responsibility for OUR Home. I outlined how we were going to do this: every dish used goes in the sink once we are done with it, the laundry ONLY goes in the laundry basket, we don't get out a new project (toy or game) until the previous one is completely put away.... That sort of thing. I'm making a check list for every evening and every morning for the kids to have as a reminder of what needs to be done. This also lead into the second agenda point: Taking Responsibility for ourselves. Our mornings tend to have me following the kids around helping them with every single step, and really these are things they can do for themselves. In fact they would be proud of themselves for accomplishing them. Now we'll have a list for them to check and make sure every item is finished before it is time to leave for school. Only when all of these things are finished can they play.
Agenda item number three was Treating each other with Kindness. It seems when we are racing around late or tripping over things all over the floor, we also throw out the first thing that comes into our heads instead of thinking of nicer ways to say them. We are all going to help each other speak to each other with kindness first.
The third agenda item was that we are going to all work together to clean the house every Friday before our weekly movie night. In fact, movie night won't happen until the house is done. This way we won't have to work on the house over the weekend, and it won't just be me who is doing the cleaning.
I started the meeting by letting the kids choose a color out of 6 sharpie pens that will represent them, and showing them a huge wall calendar I put together. Each one of us will have a color, and I'll keep the calendar up to date so they can see where we are in the week, which days Miss Mae has school in the morning and needs to get her back pack ready, which days are library days, etc. etc. They will be able to check the calendar and get everything ready to go the night before instead of racing around trying to find everything in the mornings.
I've never been the type to have a formal organization regimen in the house, but now that there are five of us, it is too much for me to keep in my head - I've been doing a terrible job of it all.
The kids really loved the whole family meeting format, and they've each added new business and scheduled meetings for the next couple of days which they will lead. They even took turns taking questions, sitting in the chair I used during the meeting, and holding the clipboard I was using. For some reason I tend to assume that they are going to think doing this sort of thing is lame, and they won't want to participate, but they were totally in to it!
I'll let you know how we do, and I'd love any ideas for keeping a large family organized and happy!