I went back to work part time when Jack was three months old and have since been in awe of all the women who manage to work full time with tiny humans at home. It’s a lot of freaking work to manage the life of another person. Gender roles have come a long way and Nick and I divide household responsibilities pretty evenly, but in all but financial matters I am definitely the brains of this operation. I don’t mean that I’m smarter than him, I mean that the responsibility of remembering what needs to be done and when falls on me. This is partly because I’m just more inclined to the task (just as he is more inclined to be good at managing our finances) and partly because he works way more hours than me so it just makes sense. But I’d be lying if I said that I don’t get overwhelmed with the details of running a household and I often feel like my head is just barely above water. So when I read this article about running your family more like a business I was intrigued. I wasn’t really into the idea of mission statements or lists of core values, but in many places I’ve worked the weekly staff meeting has been a fixture and I thought–eureka!–why not implement that in our family?
After floating the idea to Nick I literally skipped straight to my computer to draw up a basic agenda to use every week. After using and tweaking it for a few weeks I can say that it’s working well! We sit down for maybe 15 minutes every Sunday night after Jack is in bed and go over what each of us has going on that week, plan our meals, and divide up the tasks that would normally just fall to whoever remembered (uh, me, or Nick after I reminded him 12 times).
Like any good Seinfeld fans, we open our meetings with an airing of grievances. Followed by compliments because it seemed like the right thing to do. Then we review the action items from last week’s agenda to make sure everything got done before introducing new business–divided into topics based on the most common issues in our family. Then we quickly decide what we’ll be cooking that week before making a short to-do list and deciding who will do what. Here’s our agenda from last week (of course it got wrinkled before I could take a photo, proof that this is real life):
After we’re done I put it in a page protector on the side of the refrigerator so we can reference it throughout the week.
The key, I think, is to stay consistent. This last week we had plans on Sunday night so we actually had our “meeting” in the car on the way there. And as of this writing all but one item on the to-do list has been completed (Nick was supposed to mail a check to Jack’s college savings account and hasn’t to my knowledge). I feel so much less stressed after these little meetings–it makes total sense that Nick and I should have a formalized method of touching base on household happenings, but it’s not something I think most families think of. And here’s another idea from my friend Lauren and her husband Ryan: consider holding occasional strategy meetings with your partner. They often use long drives as an opportunity to discuss career plans and big life decisions, but they certainly don’t need a road trip as an excuse. They even used a whiteboard to map out all the tasks involved in planning their wedding. Lauren works a ton of hours at a Big Four accounting firm so this sort of planning is crucial for them. I love the idea of taking concepts from work into the home, but only if it’s a good fit. We won’t be drafting a family mission statement anytime soon because that’s just not us.
Click to download the free printable Family Meeting Agenda I created, or maybe get inspired to create your own! And have a great weekend, my friends!