Kids are adults in training. But some stuff is hard to get them to practice, like chores and managing their money. It’s easier to do it for them and buy them stuff when they ask for it. There is no easy answer, but through trial and error we have found a pretty good process. It’s called “family meeting”.
There are equal parts fun and work. The agenda is the same every week:
- weekly schedule
- meal planning
- issues and celebrations
Refreshments are something tasty to eat or drink. It gets everyone to the table but no one can start until every one is present.
While everyone is enjoying their refreshments, we go over the schedule for the week. Things like play dates, doctors appointments, or anything unusual to be prepared for.
Meal planning is also for the week. Every one gets down a cookbook or two and proposes a meal. They can help make it or not.
Jobs are divided into categories of daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly. The daily jobs are always the same:
- vacuum the entryway and under the table
- wipe down the bathroom sinks and mirrors
- wipe down the toilets
- empty the dishwasher
Everyone gets a daily job. The weekly jobs are also the same every week:
- vacuum the whole house
- clean the tub and shower
- mop the kitchen and bathrooms
- dust the house and clean the microwave
Monthly and quarterly jobs are arranged in a rotation so individual jobs come up at the right interval. Each person is assigned a monthly / quarterly each week. So all together, each person gets three jobs each week: one daily, one weeky, and one monthly / quarterly.
We do the daily every couple days and it take 5-10 minutes. Every Sunday morning we spend one hour doing the other two. There is still a lot of parental help with the jobs but the kids are slowly getting more independent and effective.
After jobs we do issues and celebrations. Anyone can bring up something they see as a problem, something they want to change, or something exciting they want to celebrate. For example, to congratulate a kid on a good report from school. It is also when they can express problems, propose solutions, and even make changes to family meeting itself.
Then we give the kids their allowance. It’s currently 12 PLN per week (about 3 dollars) and they place it into three buckets:
Spend can be used whenever for whatever, like Kinder eggs, tictacs, etc… Save is for a specific goal. The goal can only be changed at family meeting, but it can still be anything. They cannot change their save goal in the shop when they see something then want. Share is also for a goal, but for someone else, like the WWF, refugees, etc… The 12 PLN can be distributed into any of the buckets, however they must put at least 2 PLN minimum in each bucket.
Finally we play a board game or build lego together for about 20-30 minutes. The whole family meeting process takes about one hour.
We didn’t introduce this all at once. It’s developed over several years as we’ve added jobs and responsibilities and increased allowance. We’ve swapped things out, like the daily jobs. One kid suggested a new agenda item “5.1 goals” which they run each week. They ask each person what their personal goal is for the week and how they did the week before. Changing the details of family meeting during issues / celebrations gives the kids some agency. And having a designated time for issues allows us to defer discussions when necessary. E.g. instead of talking about who owns a particular toy during bedtime routines, we say “let’s talk about that at family meeting.” Most importantly, the kids WANT to have family meeting so we have a framework and space for coming together to talk about issues even as they get older.