Family meetings help my relationship, save me money, and rock my socks

May 23 | Guest post by Anne
Click here for a link to the Peek at the Week PDF file.
Click here for the Peek at the Week PDF file.
I am a terrible housekeeper. I'm also terrible at saving money. And talking about my feelings. And cooking (because I don't plan ahead). And making time for my husband. At least, I WAS terrible at all of these things until… family meetings!

When I told my mom that my husband and I were going to start having family meetings every week, she laughed for about 15 minutes and then said "whatever for?" And the answer was everything I listed above.

I found a print-out somewhere in the depths of the internet called "Peek at the Week." I showed it to my husband and he was mostly indifferent about it until I told him all of my amazing plans.

We start with food. That is the only real way to get him to pay attention for more than 10 minutes. So, I trapped him at Tim Horton's with a small box of Tim Bits and a coffee and laid this out in front of him. I informed him that it was time for our weekly family meeting.

  • There is a section at the top of the print-out that has each day sectioned off. In this portion, we write anything that's going on (concerts, board game nights, his mom's birthday) as well as each picking a chore that we will do that day.
  • In the To-Do section, we write down things that need to (or at least ought to) happen that week (buy a present for mom, give back the blender we borrowed) that don't have to happen on a specific day.
  • The next section is for menu planning. We plan out what we want to make for the week and what we'll need to buy in order to make it.
  • The final section, the Thoughts section, is where we've been writing the relationship stuff. Things that are going great, things that need improvement, mostly it's just a nice chance to pat ourselves on the back for being super awesome together. Last week's said "Sex = Rad. Six days in a row!" "Thanks for making my lunches!" "I want more snuggles!" and "You're my favorite person of all the persons."

We wrap up the meeting with a big hug in the middle of the coffee shop and then head off to grocery shop for the food we'll need for the week.

A couple weeks in to the family meetings, the chores started to fall behind, so we added some financial incentive. For every day a chore is late, you owe a dollar to the Disapproving Pig (a piggy bank who looks like he's judging me). If the chore has not been completed by the next family meeting, that is an additional $5 on top of the late fees. I'm not sure how much of my money that rotten pig has stolen at this point, but I know that it's going to help our vacation fund in the long run.

So, with the addition of family meetings to our week, we spend about 20-30 minutes on a mini date together (if/when we have kids, they'll probably get to come and pick their own chores — within reason — along with us). We're more on top of cleaning the house. We've saved money grocery shopping with fewer impulse buys and less time trying to guess what we can make for dinner that night. We've saved money towards our vacation (thanks Disapproving Pig!). And we've strengthened our relationship by giving ourselves a chance to appreciate each other for things that might otherwise go unsaid.

I heart family meetings.

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  1. My OCD is excited for this idea! Thinking of making up a dry erase board like this…
    Also loved the disapproving pig πŸ™‚

    10 agree
    • That sounds like a great idea! We like having ours on paper so that we can a) take it to the coffee shop easily, and b) save them to review later. They're great to look through for meal ideas when you just don't know. Might be a good idea to take a picture of your marker board and just keep the pictures in a private facebook album or a folder on your computer in case you ever want to look back at them.

      3 agree
  2. This sounds like a really cool idea. Some time writing things down and making time to talk about things really helps you focus. I am so forgetful I think it is something I could adopt πŸ™‚

    3 agree
  3. I love "Disapproving Pig." Maybe I'll paint a glaring face on a mason jar and call it "Judging You Jar."

    Normally I do the planning what to eat/grocery list in front of my cookbooks or the internet. We have a linked online calendar for the scheduled stuff. But you've inspired me to make a "special projects" list! Maybe I'll use the jar if I watch TV instead of reading or working on a special project!

    12 agree
  4. Fantastic idea! I also love how you had to trap your husband at a restaurant to get the planning part done – I, too, have to use diner food to get him to pay attention to anything with lists or boxes or planning in general. Like, I can't even take him to a restaurant that has TV screens with sports on them. He will get distracted by sports that he DOESN'T EVEN LIKE. I usually have to get him to leave the smartphone in the car, too.

    The joys of a spouse with only moderately controlled ADHD. πŸ˜›

    9 agree
    • I'm in your same boat with the ADHD spouse. We have found the Google App "Week Plan" to be reallly helpful. We each have our own, but I have access to his, and I guess me looking at it makes him feel accountable for it or something. Not questioning why it works, it just works! I think we'll be adding a family meeting!

      2 agree
    • I re read that sentence (sex 6 times in a week) a few times and thought, please don't let her have kids; or I'm really gonna feel like a loser.

      8 agree
      • As a side conversation, I have 3 kids, and 6 times a week is very possible. πŸ˜‰ Timing, timing, timing.

        5 agree
    • 6 days in a row is rather unusual for us, but it was totally awesome. I think it was mainly because we bought a new mattress that is amazing. That said, it seems to have done the trick at knocking me up, so, unless I turn out to be Wonder Woman like Tina (sk8bettyt), it may be awhile before that happens again. πŸ˜›

      12 agree
  5. I am so doing this! If not for both of us, for myself. I need the disapproving pig, and i have the perfect piggy bank for it. The funds will go to my photography lens fund….

    2 agree
    • We found ours in the baby section of Toys R Us. For what it's worth. We've also taken to putting $1 in Disapproving Pig every time we "do it". Doin' it is TOTALLY worth $1 and it adds up pretty quick.

      4 agree
  6. I remember being in my early twenties and hearing about my sister and her husband having family meetings and thinking it was the goofiest thing, clearly for anal-retentives who can't just talk to each other like normal people. Now I am older and married and family meetings seem like the most brilliant thing.

    Also, I love seeing other people admit they're not good at domestic things. Logically, I know I'm not the only adult woman who needs to print a template in order to keep her house clean, but it certainly feels that way sometimes.

    5 agree
  7. Planning the weekly meals in a meeting sounds like the perfect idea for me. I end up being the only one who figures out what to eat for dinner. Involving the kids and the husband once a week to plan meals might help with shopping and save some money as well! Thanks for the post!

    Also, *high five* for knockin' boots 5+ times a week! I think that's what we average as well. Always a nice start to my day. πŸ™‚

    1 agrees
  8. My flatmate and I had a weekly meeting like this every Sunday for 3 years – cleanest, loveliest flat I ever lived it, with the most amazing food. Fully intend to implement something along the lines once I'm cohabiting with the Dude. I like the idea of turning it into a weekly date, though. That there is a Fantabulous thought…

    5 agree
    • Our house has never been cleaner. Because our schedules don't match up all the time, we tend to have separate jobs but when it does, we'll tackle a room together. Works great. Husband loves the meetings so much that he wanted to have one on his birthday even though I suggested doing it the day before so as to not suck up precious birthday time.

      1 agrees
  9. I too share the "joys" of an ADD/ADHD spouse, mine despite a brand new iPhone with calendar app absolutely cannot plan more than 1 day in advance. Thank you for an idea that may help get our household running again.

    1 agrees
  10. I wish I could "Like" this twice! I am returning to work after two years as a stay at home mom, and I was wondering how we could make the schedule work. The Peek at the Week is going to help SOOO MUCH! THANK YOU!

    1 agrees
  11. I read this post a few weeks ago and started implementing this into the weekly routine with FH. The biggest boost we've noticed so far is how much we're saving on food (yay!).

    I was really hoping this would get both our butts in gear regarding chores, but I think we'll have to tweak that part up a bit. (Let's just say the Disapproving Pig is being extra judgy with us…)

    Instead of each picking a chore to do every day, we're going to try consolidating all the weekly chores to Sunday afternoon when we're both home from work and can tackle them together in an hour. It's a planned time and we'll keep each other accountable. And then the dishes/trash upkeep throughout the week won't be so bad by themselves. Or so I hope. Thanks for sharing this – it's a fantastic tool!

  12. I did have a little bit of a giigle at the "sex" comment. But this seems such an awesome way to get everyone in the house involved on how it runs. I love it. Thanks

  13. Just ran across this again. (Thanks annoying popups at the end of the articles!) It's a really awesome idea, and I think I will really try for it. I talked about it once with The Guy and he thought it was a good idea too, but we never got it started. I think the template could help! (I think it was actually a different similar article sans template that I'm thinking of.)

    He is always super proud of himself when he's cooked something and sometimes I feel like, "well, yes, you cooked my meal idea with the food I thought to purchase ahead of time – good job" – this could help with that. And also, eating more real food. We're both big on the "I'll just have a sandwich" for dinner…

  14. I use something similar to this, only it's an app – the best app EVER. It's called Cozi. It's a calendar – appointment scheduler – meal planner – list keeper – contacts – notes and photo keeper all in one. It sends us weekly email reminders of the week coming up and you can also set text reminders for appointments. My husband and I each have the app on our phones and they sync with each other. It's great. (I don't work for this company or anything, I bought the app about a year ago after hearing about it from a co-worker and we use it every. Single. Day. It's a life saver. Really. You can even store recipes in it).

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