A big shout out to Dottie and her very helpful words of wisdom last week.

I personally was convicted about one thing. Actually including the kids in a family meeting instead of participation being limited to their presence. Our family meetings go a little something like this:

“Okay kids. Get in here. We’re having a Family Meeting.”

Looks are exchanged between the kids. A couple sport wide-eyed fear. Another an accusatory, “what did you do this time” stare bullseyed to a brother. And no meeting would be complete without a full eye roll accompanied by a sigh.

Dad’s annunciation picks up just a bit, tone slightly sterner. “No one is in trouble. ” (They’re not too sure about that.) “We want to discuss something all of us need to work on.” I think the “all of us” is an attempt to be inclusive, non judgmental … but no one is buying it. Usually we proceed from that point to talk at them. We lamely attempt to “include” them, but end the meeting sounding more like punishment than opportunity.

I loved Dottie’s point to include the kids in a meeting before it takes place so that they can gather their thoughts before hand. What a beautiful sign of respect. We haven’t been very good at that … honestly, it might take a couple of times before the kids will even believe that we genuinely want their opinions. I guess its a fine line between being a parent, setting the rules, and respecting the kids by encouraging them to participate in the solution. I can tell you, though, from my own history, I have tended to buck the authority (be it coaches, teachers, bosses, etc.) that bellowed the edict and expected me to embrace it. On the other hand, if included in the solution/game plan, I eagerly hop on the band wagon. Going one step further, inclusion in the solution directly correlates to my level of commitment. I begrudgingly/dutifully walk the steps when strong-armed, but go above and beyond when I’m part of the plan.

Conclusion: we really need to figure this family meeting thing out. The test case is just a few weeks away. March is going to be Meal Month. I know what I want it to look like. (I want each child to take a day (the 4 Mondays, or whatever) – and be responsible for the meal … from grocery store to clean up). Family meeting Dottie-style informs me that all will run smoother if we put the directive out there, then together come up with the way to arrive at the desired goal. And the goal? Well, it isn’t to schluff my dinner-making to someone else so I can prop up my feet and be served. No, they need to learn the important life-skills involved in the meal planning, shopping, making … and, well, dealing with unsolicited opinions about your efforts.

I didn’t have much kitchen experience when I walked down the aisle. Before getting married, I never bought more than milk, yogurt & cereal at the grocery store. So, as a not-so-young newly wed, I filed up and down the rows at Tom Thumb, filling my cart with stuff. Lots and lots of stuff I had no idea what to do with. But I thought full cabinets were certainly better than empty. Sadly, full cabinets didn’t help my culinary skills. We ate (at least 3 times a week) the one thing I knew how to cook … waffles. Hey, someone had given us a waffle maker as a wedding gift — at least they weren’t frozen ones. Sweet Jon never complained.

So, in an effort to equip our kids by honing their non-existent culinary skills, I’ll float the family meeting topic next week. Hopefully this will give them a chance to gather their thoughts, give me time to pull together a skeleton game plan, and officially encourage them to keep on keeping on top of the clutter.

We’re already halfway through “Clutter Control/Bed Making” and they are doing a much better job than I thought they would. Even with a good attitude! (most of them) … I did have a little push back the other day, granted it wasn’t a bed or the bathroom, but it was definitely clutter:

“You need to clean your desk.”
“Because I said so” (Don’t you love, “because I said so”… I hear it coming out of my mouth and can’t help but roll my own eyes!) “Your closet is right next to the desk, you can put your stuff in there?”
“I never messed my desk up to begin with.”
“Is it your stuff?”
“Then clean it up.”
“Why should I clean it? It will only get dirty again”
“Life’s just not fair, is it. This conversation is over. Go clean your desk.”

So … Not perfect, but a respectable showing thus far. They have been much more on top of things than me. (I got docked a buck yesterday. I think they’re a little quick on the draw!) Like I’ve said before, I’m great on the relational part of being a home maker, but I score around a 4 out of 10 on the house management side … and that’s on a good day.

Tune in Wednesday for Dottie’s thoughts on “Teamwork and Goals”. Thanks for walking the road with me.

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