I want to start off by sharing with you my calendar this week. This is just what is on my calendar, not my to do list of things to get done each day. This is just this week’s calendar events.
Monday -Mom’s birthday, Will baseball game at 5 be there at 4:30, FHE
Tuesday- Will baseball game at 5 be there at 4:30, Tucker Pack meeting at 6, Dad meetings at 6, Harrison and Emma mutual at 7, Mom blog post
Wednesday – Mom temple group 10:40, lunch with temple group 12:30. Emma piano 3:30. Dad, meetings 6-7:30. Harrison engineering presentation 7. Emma awards ceremony 7pm,
Thursday –Will French presention 11:45-12:15. Harrison work 4-10. Mom- book club 7. Dad-Stake Priesthood mtg 7 be there at 6:30.
Friday –Tucker awards ceremony 10:30. Moms visiting teachers come 11:30-I am SO SORRY Sarah- that one totally and completely escaped my mind that day. I failed that one. Tucker and will go to party at 4-11. Emma go to party at 6-10 Harrison work 4-10:30
Saturday- Family Work at Bucio’s Cabin
This has become a normal calendar week. There is always a number of things going on each day and things tend to come up and fill in the gaps. I am sure many of you can relate, especially those of you with older children. There are so many things to fill up our days right? Because of this craziness that seems to happen week after week in OUR home, it has become necessary that we have a family council each week, and when we don’t there tends to be chaos and confusion.
On Sundays we sit down and go over the calendar items. Talk about where each person needs to be and when, and figure out if someone will be home to watch the littles if mom and dad are both gone or if we need to make sure they can go with one of us, OR if we need to make arrangements for someone else to watch them. We talk about the cars, who needs one and who can get a ride with someone else or can be dropped off and picked up. We decide if activities need to be dropped to accommodate other activities or even dropped to keep our sanity.
When a family council is not had, especially on a week like this, it is chaos and we get frustrated when a car isn’t there for us -when we thought there would be one- or there is no one to watch the littles and other arrangements need to be made. It sure takes a load off my shoulders because I feel like I am the one running the calendar and making sure that things get done and people get where they need to be. It’s easier to make a plan when we are all together so that we can each give input to figure it out ahead of time rather than ME trying to figure it out when the time comes. Sometimes in our council Derrel or one for the kids is thinking clearer than me and can come to a simple solution, when I am making it harder than it needs to be. We are a family and should work together as a family, and support each other in our callings and endeavors.
This past week, along with going over the calendar as part of our family council I had my children report back to me with things they want to do this summer. I had been warning them for a month or so that summer is almost here. They really didn’t need THAT reminder, they’ve been counting down the days, but I felt that if we don’t make a plan, then the summer would slip away in all the busyness, and we would regret not doing anything “cool”. We tend to do big vacations every other year so since we went to California last year, this year we won’t be going on a big vacation. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have a great summer, so I asked them- over a month ago- to start making a list of all the things they wanted to do this summer. We came up with a summer bucket list and are excited to have a plan, BUT even with a plan, it will likely take weekly family councils and planning to make these fun activities happen.
Elder Ballard spoke about family councils this past LDS General Conference and said this about councils, “I believe that councils are the most effective way to get results. Additionally, I know councils are the Lord’s way and that He created all things in the universe through a heavenly council, as mentioned in the scriptures.” He calls family councils “the most basic and fundamental-and perhaps the most important- of all councils.”
He talked about 4 types of family council, who knew right? But yes there are 4 and I realized that we do all of these without thinking that they are actual family councils. The first one is a general family council consisting of the entire family. This might be just you and your spouse if your children are grown and out of the house, it might be roommates, a single mother and her children, single father and his children. This council can even broaden into extended family. The example I shared before- Our planning for the week or for summer vacation- would be a general family council.
Other family matters can be discussed in a general family council such as how to divvy the chores around the house, problems of contention, financial issues, what extra curricular activities our children might want to participate in and how to pay for them. Taking care of extended family who may have medical problems, or making plans for a vacation. The list can go on.
In our family we have used family councils to help support and strengthen each other- a few years ago, our daughter had the opportunity to go to Europe with people to people. Going to France was a dream of hers and we wanted to make it happen for her. We had many family councils discussing how we could help Emma earn the money to go to France. Everyone gave ideas of fundraisers that could be done and each member of our family committed to do all they could to help.
(This picture shows a couple of the fundraisers we did. Posting flags in our neighborhood throughout the year and a lemonade stand. The family picture is the day we dropped her off at the airport.)
Our whole family was involved in earning $7,000 in an 8 month period, even the extended family was included in supporting Emma in her dream. I’m guessing that real soon there might be a few family councils that include discussions on how to help Harrison (now 17yrs old) get the rest of the money for his mission.
I remember years ago when we only had a few young children we had councils on how we can accomplish reading the Book of Mormon in a certain amount of time. We would make a plan of action and follow through. Times have changed with more children and different schedules so now the discussion is more about how can we fit ANY kind of scripture study in!
The second type of family council is an executive family council that involves only parents, where they can “review each child’s physical, emotional, and spiritual needs and his or her progress.” For us this often happens on our date night- some weeks it is the only time we are together without the kids. Or sometimes it happens while Derrel is working- often that is the only time I can catch him and talk with him about concerns I might have. Or even in the bathroom on mornings that we are getting ready at the same time or when we are laying in bed attempting to go to sleep. They are very informal and we don’t talk about each child every time, just whatever concerns we have at the time.
Elder Ballard says ” that an executive family council is also good for wives and husbands to talk about their personal relationships with each other.” He talked about when Harold B Lee performed he and his wife’s sealing that he told them, “Never retire without kneeling together, holding hands, and saying your prayers. Such prayers invite Heavenly Father to counsel us by the power of the spirit.” This is great advice. I wish I were better at doing this. I know it is something Derrel wants to do and we do it here and there but not nightly. I’m sure taking elder Lee’s advice would have positive results for any couple.
The third type of family council that Elder Ballard shares is a limited family council. “Here, both parents spend time with an individual child in a formal or an informal setting.” We can discuss with a child his/her future- their goals, or decisions of things they will and won’t do or even concerns and challenges they have. I think we have more of this type of family council with our older kids. I love this type of council with my children. They are often very informal, with one of the kids laying at the end of our bed. I enjoy the open communication we have with our children because of these types of councils. Harrison and Emma have had friends comment on how surprised they are about the fact that they actually talk to us, “you talked to your mom about THAT!?” Many of their friends would not talk to their parents about things that my children talk to us about. I believe that it is the result of these types of councils that my children are open with us, of which I am so grateful.
The fourth type of council is one-on-one family council involving one parent and one child. Elder Ballard says , ” this type of family council generally just happens.” For our family these happen while driving in the car, at the table after school, painting our nails, shopping, working in the yard or doing chores around the house. Derrel tries, whenever he can, to take one of the kids with him to do things like shopping or go out for a treat to have some one-on-one time with them. He also tries to do father child interviews a few times a year. I would like to do better at these though, I don’t set up times to do things with an individual child as much as I should because they are with me much of the time. Elder Ballard suggests that we, “calendar these types of councils so the children can anticipate and look forward to special time with mom or dad.” I know some people who have “date nights” with heir kids. Date night with mom or dad would sure make a child feel important and loved wouldn’t it?
I feel that when we have family councils of every type we grow closer to each other, create bonds that can’t be broken, and invite the spirit into our homes. Ok maybe not EVERY family council brings the spirit. Sometimes we are trying to force a family council and many aren’t paying attention and it ends with someone leaving angry and frustrated, BUT Elder Ballard gives a solution to this problem. We can invite the Lord to be a part of our family councils. Alma taught, “Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good.” We have had SOME family councils starting with prayer but most of the time we are just getting it done or it is a natural part of the day that just comes-which is totally fine. But Imagine the things that might happen differently if the Savior is present at each family counsel- More patience with one another, clarity of thought, ideas or solutions to problems, kindness, understanding, willingness to sacrifice for one another, spiritual guidance, the list could go on and on…
Matt 18:20 says “for where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” What a beautiful promise. I know that I would love to have the Savior present in my home and with such a simple thing as prayer to invite Him. Blessings beyond our understanding can come if we invite the spirit, and all it takes is a humble prayer.
I feel closer to my children and my husband when we council together. I feel a little bit of heaven in my home when I see the results of councils, of spending quality time together, where we actually talk to and listen to each other. Family councils can be a powerful tool in keeping a family together as well as functioning properly.
SEE THE HAPPY!