Last week, I had the beautiful opportunity to spend a day on retreat with 14 alumnae of the Mindful Return program. We spent time connecting, journaling, networking, doing yoga, and brainstorming logistical strategies that make working mama life easier. It was good to get away and give ourselves some quiet space simply to be.
One of the strategies we discussed that afternoon was an idea I’ve written about before: doing a weekly meeting with your significant other, to plan out the coming week and focus on other key family topics.
I wrote a whole post on this weekly meeting here, but I’ll summarize the concept for you. On Saturday evenings, my husband and I sit down on our living room couch and talk about the following:
- The following week’s schedule (including who is on point for child care any given day if a child gets sick, and a rough outline of food plans)
- Money (paying bills, and an end-of-month check-in)
- Exercise (is it in the calendar?)
- Ordering needed items on Amazon
- Filling out paperwork, permission slips, birthday party RSVPs, etc.
- Our monthly date night – making sure it’s scheduled and contacting babysitters
- Scheduling time alone (for each of us) and time with friends (for each of us)
- Reflecting on the week’s mindful moments
If we happen to be tied up on a Saturday night, we move our meeting to another night. And on nights we can’t make it through the whole list, we always, at the very least, go through our calendars together.
Also, on a bi-annual basis, we take a day off to do some longer-range planning. (More on that here: Annual Planning Day with Your Partner: A Fantastic Chaos-Reduction Tool.)
One question that came up at the Mindful Return Alumnae Retreat, though, was: What if your partner isn’t the planning type?
This whole idea is all well and good, you might say, if you are both planning nerds. (Yes, I admit, my husband and I both fall into that category.)
But what if one of you is a planner and the other simply isn’t?
Several of the mamas at the retreat last week definitely fell into this category and were struggling to find ways to engage their partners in these conversations. The mental load of parenthood is huge, and it’s hard to share that burden without a way to touch base and regroup as a couple at regular intervals.
Two helpful strategies emerged from the mamas on retreat:
- Make Planning Enticing: Okay, so this could be considered bribery. But it’s not necessarily a bad thing. (Perhaps we should call it positive reinforcement instead?) One mama volunteered that her husband is a huge fan of pizza and beer. So one night a week, they order pizza, get some beer, and do the planning over his favorite meal.
- Start Small, and Start with the Calendar: Maybe the thought of reflecting on mindful moments or going through finances on a weekly basis makes your significant other want to bolt in the other direction. Can you pick one item on the list to make into a weekly check-in ritual? Calendar coordination came up as the top pick for this “hook,” as it helps everyone get on the same page for the coming week. Even if you share an electronic calendar, it still helps to talk through the logistics of the upcoming days, to know who needs to be where and when. And perhaps you can fit some self-care conversation into the calendar planning discussion.
For me and my husband, our weekly meeting started at a point of sheer desperation after our second child was born, and the kids were getting sick more often than we could keep track of. (It was the year that 1 child + 1 child felt like 85 children.) Now, with 5 and 7 year olds, things are less dire. But the weekly meeting is still incredibly helpful, and we really feel discombobulated when, for whatever reason, we happen to skip it.
Do you and your partner have a weekly meeting? How did it start? How did you convince your partner to sit down to do this type of planning? Please leave suggestions and stories in comments below!
If you need more help getting your head in a better place to return to work after maternity leave, join us for the next session of Mindful Return.
Want more practical tips on working parenthood? Check out my book, Back to Work After Baby: How to Plan and Navigate a Mindful Return from Maternity Leave.