Family council is a quick weekly meeting with everyone in the household. It’s best to have it regularly but even if you just do it once a month your family will learn to communicate, coordinate and cooperate with more ease. The most basic meeting would include a schedule review and a discussion of individual/family needs. As you practice meeting together you might find that you’d like to incorporate some other topics into the practice. I recommend starting small and firming up the habit before adding more items to the agenda. Just practice being together, talking openly and being as patient with each other as you can. This week’s agenda will help you have a well-rounded meeting in just a few minutes. Holding the space for family council each week breathes life into the home and gives the family and its members room to heal, grow, and become a strong team.
Here’s an easy agenda for family council tomorrow. This week I’ve been thinking a lot about how open communication in family council allows us to pool our strengths and help each other. We had our daughter’s birthday party this week and I’m usually great at coming up with ideas but then sometimes I have trouble with the more practical aspects of implementation and I end up running around like crazy trying to get details together. Ritchie prepares for life by identifying details and prioritizing them. As we’ve discussed this party at family council over the past few months, I was able to:
1) think ahead & plan ahead
2) incorporate both Ritchie and Jessica’s suggestions. I find that when they make suggestions they are usually pretty creative and if I’m open-minded I am able to utilize their strengths which balance and augment some of my enduring vulnerabilities. The end result was a more enjoyable day for all of us and an activity where everyone had some input. Nice! Yet another benefit to sitting down with the family and planning out our life together once week.
We have a family meeting every Sunday night. A few weeks ago at one of these meetings I applied for the role of “Miller Family Healthy Habit Coordinator.” I told my family that no one will love them more than I do and no one will devote more time to caring for their well-being than I will. I lovingly explained that I’ve been ardently preparing for this work for approximately 30 years (my twin sisters were born when I was 6 so my mothering career began early) and that I would like to offer them guidance for growth, health, healing and wholeness. I earnestly explained that there are a lot of other places where my knowledge and experience are in high demand but that the most meaningful place for me to employ these skills is at home with them. And to top it all off, I would be willing to do this job for free. After some “where is this going” looks and some laughter, Jessica made a short list of people who she felt were better qualified to fill the position. Among her preferred applicants were Grandma, Grandpa and Cassie (our dog!?!) but as none of them were available or able to verbally petition for the post I was able to secure it. I explained that each week I would introduce one new habit for us to incorporate into our routine with the hope that our health and happiness would be enhanced as we seek to care for ourselves and help other people.
We started with meditation because it’s the most logical place to start. Meditation is a powerful tool for increasing resilience, navigating stress, and growing through struggle. When you’re a living being, it’s nice to have a few minutes where you just sit still, remember that you have a body and listen to your breath moving in and out of it. Each night, after Jessica puts on her pjs and brushes her teeth, we sit cross-legged in a haphazard circle and practice meditating together for 2 minutes before we say a family prayer. To increase kid-appeal, we light a little candle and use the free Insight Meditation Timer app and Jessica gets to choose the chime that signals the beginning and end of our practice. It’s fun because there are little dots that show you who else in the world is meditating with you. (We found that Friday evenings are a low point for global meditation while Sundays are pretty popular). Usually we meditate with around 800 other people and it makes it feel a little less foreign and a lot more communal.
Now before you say “we could never do that” let me reiterate that it’s a practice meaning the whole goal is to try, put forth the effort, put our bodies there, recognizing that most of the time it’s a little crazy with Cassie licking our faces or Jessica staring at the wall (sometimes I peek to see what she’s actually doing while Ritchie and I are closing our eyes). It’s me telling her to meditate the way I do instead of respecting that she’s going to have her own little 6 year old way of managing things (something you’d think I’d be used to by now…). It’s Ritchie chanting “ommmmmm” with a playful smirk on his face. I take it all in stride (probably because I meditate on my own each day so that I can handle whatever these yahoos throw at me 🙂 and I smile. Meditation is changing our life.