Breaking Down a Family Power Hour & Why You Need One (HPC: E89)

Routines are my kryptonite. 🙁 Anyone else?

I feel like every time I set a schedule, I’ve just wasted time writing down that schedule because I don’t stick to it.

BUT during this quarantine time, I knew we needed a little structure. Nothing too strict, but some routines without times attached to them.

We haven’t been perfect, but on the majority of the days, our little checklists make a huge difference in how the family runs!

This interview was filmed last fall before anyone had heard of a coronavirus, but it’s SO much more applicable now.

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Hear from the dynamic duo of Julie Freedman Smith and Gail Bell, with a combined 40 years of experience in educating parents and children. They’re from Parenting Power and took the time to explain the “family meeting” for us.

  • What is a family meeting?
  • Why would a family want to do one?
  • Will the family meeting work even for parents like me who don’t do well with schedules?
  • What are the basic parts of a family meeting (and why is “vacation” on there??)?
  • How do family meetings help our highly sensitive children in particular?
  • How do you take the stress out of schedules and routines?

I’m so glad I held onto this interview until right now because I think the timing is perfect. If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed with distance learning and quarantine life, or if you just feel like you need a little something to direct the week and bring the family together on the same page, this is TOTALLY for you.

I’m watching it again to see how we can implement this at the Kimball house!

No time to watch the whole video? Here are the notes!

Family Meeting “Power Hour” Video Time Stamps

  • 0:28: Today on the Healthy Parenting Connector I’m joined by Julie Freedman Smith and Gail Bell who have fun Parenting Power together since 2002. One of the parenting tools they teach about is the parenting power hour which we will be talking about today.
  • 1:13: Julie shares how she and Gail began working together to pursue their passion for helping parents understand their children.

There's more than one right way to parent. -Julie Freedman Smith

  • 2:56: A family “power hour” or weekly family meeting helps the entire family get on the same page to save you time and frustration throughout the week. It is a positive time to come together.
  • 4:33: There isn’t really a right or wrong way to conduct your family meeting. It can be just the parents if you have young children or you can include the kids. Your agenda will depend on your specific needs as a family.

Structure Your Own Family Power Hour

  • 5:28: Pick a specific time to hold your family meeting. Don’t fall into the trap of meeting only when there’s a family crisis. Sunday nights work for lots of families, but Saturday morning may be best for you. You could pick one night during the week where you have no activities.

A family power hour helps you have consistent, clear, and calm communication. -Gail Bell

  • 6:17: One meeting a week is a good goal. If it doesn’t happen one week then you won’t get too far off track.
  • 6:38: Get the calendar out and go over the plan for the week so everyone has clear expectations. Some older kids enjoy having their own calendars that they can take notes in.

Don’t assume your kids know what you’re expecting them to do. -Gail Bell

  • 7:55: Some other topics of discussion could be what is going well in the family, what problem spots you’ve identified. This is a great place to bring up conflict for calm discussion and problem solving instead of reacting in the moment when emotions are high.
  • 9:16: Kids can add to the agenda as well. Other ideas are discussing chore responsibilities or planning family vacations.

A family power hour helps keep your family calm. -Gail Bell

  • 9:44: It doesn’t have to be an hour, even 10-20 minutes is enough with younger kids.
  • 9:57: Gail shares her “little itches” analogy and how she remembers things to bring to her weekly family meeting.
  • 10:29: I have a couple of kids who really like to know what’s coming up. My 8-year-old asks me every night what is for breakfast and what we’re doing the next day.
  • 11:13: I know it feels like one more thing to add to the schedule! Get creative to figure out when it will work for your family. During dinner or a car ride could even be a good option.

Figure out a system that will work the best for you. -Julie Freedman Smith

The Benefits of Routines for Kids

  • 13:39: We switch gears a little bit and talk about the importance of routines for kids.

When kid know the routine they feel like they have more power. They don’t need to fight for power. -Julie Freedman Smith

  • 14:05: Building routines is a great way to develop good habits in our kids.
  • 14:54: When you have a regular family meeting, you can begin creating some structure as the parent but allow your child to have input and feel ownership over the final plan.

5 Steps to Parent Intentionally

  • 15:10: Schedules and routines can seem very stressful. It seems daunting. Julie and Gail have a 5 step “parenting with a plan” process that works for every age.
  • 15:39: Step one is Awareness. What is driving you crazy and how would you like it to look different? Julie gives an example.

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  • 16:41: Step two is Structure and Consistency. This is where you create a plan for a solution.
  • 16:56: Step three is Dealing with Emotions. How are you going to handle your own emotions and respond to your child’s emotions?

Often if our kid starts whining at us, we whine back or we get bigger and louder which leads to chaos. -Julie Freedman Smith

  • 17:46: Julie shares how we can respond to our children instead of reacting emotionally. Starting sentences with “I…” is less threatening and children can’t argue with what you’re feeling.

We are the adults and we can handle our child’s emotions. -Julie Freedman Smith

  • 18:53: Number four is Problem Solving and Autonomy. How can we allow our children to take ownership of some responsibilities? They can be part of the problem solving as well.
  • 20:27: Step number five is the Language of Encouragement. Using a keyword reduces nagging and over-explaining. Having the language ready ahead of time helps us to be respectful.
  • 21:48: Brain research shows that we’re more likely to implement strategies we create ourselves. Kids re more likely to implement a plan that they have a hand in creating.
  • 22:15: Julie and Gail share more about their ebook that helps you plan your family power hour.

Sleep and nutrition are hugely important for setting kids up for success. -Gail Bell

  • 23:08: Of course we talk about routines in the kitchen. (We are Kids Cook Real Food after all!) Start small and get your kids involved in the kitchen. There’s so much to learn there!
  • 26:2: We leave you with a message of hope and encouragement. It’s a good one!

See where your child is today, and connect with them. -Julie Freedman Smith

Resources We Mentioned to Help Structure Your Family Meeting

I am an affiliate for Julie and Gail’s book, but that doesn’t change your price!

Julia Freedman Smith and Gail BellJulie Freedman Smith and Gail Bell have a combined 40 years of experience in educating parents and children, are engaging speakers, and run humorous and light-hearted workshops — they know what they’re doing to alleviate stress and target practical parenting solutions at the same time!

Together the duo behind Parenting Power have made it their goal to leave you feeling empowered with practical, real life tools and the energy to face the daily challenges of parenting. In addition to family coaching, they offer a tool box of real life parenting tools available on their website, at

How to start a family power hour

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