Saturday, May 28, 2011

Family Council. . .Blog Day #29

I have written before about this new stage in life I'm entering:  the big kids phase.  Everything in my life is looking differently than it did even just 3 years ago.  Bedtime routines are easier, with only 2 kids needing to be tucked in.  I only have to buckle one child into his car seat.  The big kids can read, so they can pick out TV shows for themselves and for the littles.  Everyone but Henry can swim, so I can truly relax at the pool.

And Family Council has been incorporated into our routine.  Johnny and I have stressed its importance and the kids look forward to it every month. 

It's simple, really.  Now that we aren't outnumbered by toddlers, even the four year old participates.  Henry does not, but he enjoys the pizza and dessert.

So it looks a little like this:

First, we have a little notebook to keep the minutes in.  During the month, I write little notes in it and keep a time-card.  I fine them anywhere from $0.25 to $0.75 for dawdling, talking back, not listening and obeying at chore time.  I add $1.00 to $3.00 for extra chores and in Lela's case, helping with Henry.  Johnny and I will plan ahead on what needs to be talked about, or if any family events are coming up.

On the day of family council, which is usually within the first week of every month, we inform the kids as to when we will be meeting.  It's a pizza night, and one kid will get to prepare and serve the snack.  Before we sit down, we all stand behind our assigned seats and look to the book to see who gets to pick a new seat first.  The kids usually remember, but we keep a record anyway. 

We go in order of age, with the exception of Henry, who always has to sit next to me.  In June, it is Daddy's turn to pick his seat first.  We stay in our assigned seats until next family council. 

We take prayer requests, and then open up in prayer.  It is great to pray as a family.

We eat pizza.  While we are eating, we change seating assignments for the car, which is also by age.  The three oldest take monthly turns sitting in shotgun (don't worry, the airbag turns off).  We talk about the month's assigned chores for mornings, afternoons, and evenings. 

We discuss problems and brainstorm solutions.  The most common problems:  cleaning up after oneself, flushing toilets and hanging up towels, and turning off the lights and shutting the doors when you leave a room. 

We give compliments and show our appreciation for each other.  Johnny and I try to spotlight on specific times when the kids did exceptionally well.  In May, it was how much the kids listened and obeyed on Easter day when I was playing the piano at church and while I was at home cooking our big meal.

We talk about upcoming events.  If we are planning on a hike, we discuss rules.  If we are planning to go camping, we menu plan and make a list of activities we'd like to participate in.  If there is a family vacation, we talk about expectations and  money (ex.  going to Disneyland but we will not buy souvenirs or ask to buy souvenirs). 

By this time, Henry is usually ready to get out of his seat and the kids are getting restless.  So the child who prepared the snack will serve the snack as dessert.  Usually, it's brownies.  In May, Johnny decided to give them hot chocolate with one gigantic marshmallow in each cup.  I wouldn't recommend this.  The marshmallows, which were bigger than Zoe's hand, were a bit of a distraction. 

As soon as snack is over, allowance is paid.  In our family, allowance is more like "family fun."  In order to participate in "family fun", you have to participate in "family work".  So while the kids do have quite a bit of chores, they also get to have money of their own.  Our pay-scale is this:  $10 at 10 years old, $5 at 5 years old, and $3 for under 5.  It's not much, but all we can afford.  They each get paid, one at a time in dollar bills, the base pay and then whatever extras they earned.  After receiving all of their "paycheck", they pay any fines owed.  They take the moneys and put them in their designated envelopes:  savings, tithing, and spending. 

We quickly clear the table, and move to the school room where I play the piano and we sing together as a family.  That is new, as of last month.  

And the meeting is adjourned.  If the meeting is held on a weekend evening, then it's movie night.  If not, then those who put their pajamas on in a timely fashion get to watch a little TV before bed..

In writing, it doesn't seem as exciting as it is in real life.  But the benefits of training the kids to spend one night exclusively with us and each other is priceless.  Through this monthly meeting we get the chance to pray as a whole, to openly discuss what the needs are, to learn to express appreciation in the spoken word, and to cultivate the togetherness that needs to be there if we are to be a tight-knit family. 

It seemed so impossible when I had three toddlers and I felt like I was in the bathroom all day being the toilet monitor and butt-wiper. 

But as my little babies grow older, we can function a little differently.  As each child grows in maturity, we use their independence to our advantage.  We incorporate them into a monthly family business meeting and connect with them by allowing them to contribute to the decisions we make. 

Each month, we have a reminder that we are a family unit, and that we all belong to each other. 

Family Council, I love it. . .


Aimee said...

I love it! What an awesome that I just may have to steal in a year or two...I'm still kind of in the thick of preschooler and toddler land...yes, wiping hineys, etc. =)

The Blewetts said...

Thanks Jia-Min, that is good reading! Fun to hear how a family meeting works at the Rosendale house.