It’s 5:30 on Tuesday night, and you need to get dinner on the table. You’re feverishly scouring through the freezer to find something to cook, the kids are running around, your partner isn’t home yet, and you are thinking about that last email that your boss sent you that you didn’t have a chance to get to before you left the office.
Worse still, once your partner walks through the door, a benign question like, “Did you deposit that check I left on the desk this morning?” turns into a full-blown argument about family finances, and you’re suddenly considering canceling your family vacation to Hawai‘i.
As a productivity coach, I frequently work with individuals and teams on meetings — specifically how to make them more efficient, effective, and worthy of everyone’s time. Now, while there’s a lot of literature dedicated to this topic by top business gurus, there’s one kind of meeting that gets constantly ignored, but really shouldn’t.
And what meeting is that? You guessed it: It’s the one for individuals who have a family partner — the husband/wife/significant other — that you should meet with each week.
The reality is that when you have a household, kids, pets, social life, and other outside-of-work responsibilities, you are in fact running a small business. And your husband/wife/partner is your business partner.
My husband and I meet every Sunday evening when the kids are in bed to touch base and get grounded so we can get on the same page at the same time and help our “business” run a bit smoother throughout the week. The relationship you have with your partner is what grounds you and is a platform for you to be your best self in your work and life.
Here are some of the ways that my husband and I have found to make sure our meetings are really helping to support us:
(1) Create a sacred, scheduled time to meet every week. Set up a weekly meeting with your partner to discuss kids, projects, schedules (work and social), hot issues that require focused discussion time, and other odds and ends that are sure to arise throughout the week. This is the time that allows you and your partner to have a State of the Union meeting. Do this when the house is calm (read: NO KIDS). You should both view it as the most important meeting of the week. Block it off on both calendars.
(2) Keep track of your finances and have a weekly (or monthly) financial meeting. No small business should go very long without taking a look at its finances and keeping its finger on the pulse, right? Even if one of you is the primary bill payer, the other should have full access and knowledge of where your finances stand. This allows for an educated discussion.
(3) Plan your menu. One of the biggest points of frustration for everyone (especially the main chef) in the house can be dinnertime — see scenario above. Planning out what to feed your family at 5 p.m. is not only frustrating, but leads to poor nutritional choices. Take 15 minutes before your week begins and think through the week.
(4) Create routines and stick to them. It’s so easy to give in to the TV or skip the bath when the evening becomes chaotic. Kids thrive on and need routine for their own sense of balance — and honestly, so do you! I suggest writing down your routine and posting it where everyone can see it so there are no gaps or questions about what comes next. Spontaneity is great and can be reserved for the weekends or vacations, but during the hectic workweek when timing and schedules are tight, a well-kept routine is often the most efficient practice for everyone in your house.
While it may take a little bit of a mind-shift to go from “home life” to “we’re running a small business,” the organization, structure, and peace of mind that result from weekly meetings at home are priceless — allowing you to truly enjoy your time at home with your family.
Give this a try, start small, and take it slow — you got this!
Sara Caputo transforms how individuals, teams, and small businesses navigate workflow and increase productivity. Her work has been featured in Working Women, Success, and Forbes, as well as other national and regional publications. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.