I Run My Family Like a Company to Keep Us Together


African_Family

I’m busy, so busy that it could be easy to not care about family meetings. Yet, I believe in running my family like a business to an extent. All good organizations need meetings to reflect, plan, celebrate, and grow. From extended family meetings at my grandparents’ to the one I run now in my own house, family meetings are essential to our household health. Family time has been keeping us together, grounded, and connected for generations.

At my grandparent’s house, it started with my grandfather’s drumming.

At dawn, his beat called the family to the living room. We sang together, read scriptures, and discussed different daily life challenges, giving our opinions and sharing ideas from our day-to-day experiences. We were sometimes quite groggy at the beginning of those meetings, but those family devotions were a great chance to talk with everyone about the right and wrong ways to go about life.

My mother’s version was a lot more creative.

One time she called my siblings and I around the dining table stacked with snacks and malted drinks for an eating and drinking contest. No one could forget the time when the entire family was commissioned to read through V.S. Naipaul’s “Miguel Street” and how we discussed the various stories as we went through the book together. Sometimes, she brought home a sheet full of riddles or brainteasers and had us sprawled on the floor with pencils and paper trying to get the answers. At other times, everyone gathered to discuss changes that were on the horizon and each of us would give our opinions on the matter.

So, it flowed into my own family.

It kicked off during premarital counselling, when we learned about the parallels of a family and a company. So in the first few years, we held them on the last day of every month. We would grab some time together and review the month: celebrating our successes and acknowledging our stumbles. We’d set new goals for the next month and discuss our budget and make other important decisions. But, it wasn’t all stuffy or formal like some company meetings. They are more like the intermissions we have at the movies in Jamaica: a break time for us to stop the busyness that life can be, assess our reality and get prepped to jump back into the show.

As a child, I assumed every family was run this way.

We never called them ‘family meetings’ at the time, but these times designated to play, learn, and think together were central to how we functioned. Now, that I’m a mother, I see how important regular family meetings are to the harmony in my home. Whether we use the time to practice spiritual disciplines (devotion), set goals, review the budget, do book reviews, or play board games, it is important to schedule regular times for the family to get together. We’re living in a time where toddlers have swim lessons, 8 year olds have sporting competitions, and teenagers are working part-time jobs. Everyone’s schedule is packed that we can too quickly we move past each other without ever really connecting.

As a mother, I want to be intentional about the harmony in my home.

I know it doesn’t all fall into place just because we live in the same space and share DNA. So, even if it’s just 20 minutes a week, I need to set an appointment with my husband and my daughter where it’s just us: playing, learning, and thinking together. From my childhood memories, I know these are the times when family values get defined and passed on, when challenges get addressed and conflicts are resolved. It allows us to plan for family events and align our calendars. We get the chance to share new ideas and have new experiences together.

Sometimes family meetings are scheduled like bill payment day or eat-out night. At other times, they are impromptu like when a problem erupts or when we get home extra early and decide to put on some old music and do crazy dances in the kitchen. Structured or casual, our family meetings are essential to our flow. We take them seriously, and we give each other our full attention.

Mommies, do you pencil in dedicated family time?

Didan Ashanta

About Didan Ashanta

Didan Ashanta is the author of "Jamaican Green Smoothies" and a LifeDesigner who blogs about eating your way to vibrant health at DidanAshanta.com. A native of Jamaica, she currently lives in the Tokyo, Japan with her husband and 3-yr-old daughter.


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