Share the Load

Do you feel like you're the only person doing work in the house? Let’s talk about how to run a household meeting so you can share the load, delegate some of those tasks, and reduce tension.

Introduce the idea

First, introduce the idea to your household, bring everyone together and explain why you want to do this. Why do you want to have a family meeting? You can explain here that it becomes too much for you, and you'd like to engage everyone in the process of running your household. Work out who needs to be there and organize a regular day during the week so that you can have this meeting and block it into everyone's diary.

Set an agenda and who will lead the meeting.

Next, create a list of things that you would want to talk about, the things you might need help with, or you would like to share with your family, or help them understand. We call that sort of list an agenda. And it might just live on a piece of paper that ultimately lives on the fridge so that everyone can eventually learn how to contribute to that. Since you're organizing these meetings, you're probably going to lead them. The name we usually give to the person who leads a meeting is the chair. So in the first instance, you would be the chair. Ultimately, you'd like all your members of the household to be able to chair the meetings as their skill grows. In the first instance, you're going to be the chair.

Run the meeting

Step three, run that meeting! But how?

There you are, everyone's sat around the table. First thing you want to do is be really clear that on the time limit. For the first meeting, an hour is suggested. Tell people what you're going to do afterwards for a reward. It might be a special dessert or some games that you're going to play.

Your role is to take the group through the agenda. That doesn't mean you do all the talking. What you want to do is call in all the people around your table to use their knowledge to solve the problems.

This isn't all about work. Spend a bit of time on what you're going to do in the next week, maybe problem solving, who's going to take the dog to the vet, who needs being picked up after sport. And also do some long-term planning for exciting or fun things, maybe planning someone's birthday, or planning a trip away, thinking about Christmas, and those long-term ideas that need to percolate and grow.

And then record your decisions on the agenda sheet, put it back on the fridge. Close the meeting on time and have that dessert!

The household

The word household can be used very loosely. It may be the people who live inside your house. There may also be other people who live outside your house who are critical to making your life or the life of other people in your house function. It might be carers who live externally, family members, grandparents, neighbours, who contribute critically to the running of your household and to the making of life function. And please feel free to invite them into your meetings too.

Making it work

You may say "that all sounds terrific. It's never gonna work in my household because this child won't do it or that person will will not get the task done."

A way to work through this is to go through your agenda and tick off what's been achieved. Note what's in progress, praise, say well done, and notice the people or the situations that are still needing to be undertaken and say, “let's have that conversation separately.” Don't have those difficult conversations in the meeting. Make it clear you expect it to be done, and talk with them in detail elsewhere. If you need to have one of these potentially difficult conversations, listen appreciatively. Don't come in with a judgement, finger waggling, assuming you know what happened, because something might have occurred that you didn't know about. You can then learn from them, and they can learn from you why these meetings, these agendas are so important.

Family meetings are a great way to connect with everyone, share the load, and have fun.

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