How “Staff Meetings” With My Wife Helped Us Find More Balance

Butch on a Budget - How Staff Meetings With My Wife Helped Us Find More Balance

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything for the blog, so I’m challenging myself to get two posts up each month. That seems pretty manageable. I hope.

I haven’t been writing for a couple of reasons, but none of them are because I’m not sure what to write about. The main reason I haven’t been writing the past couple months is because my time has been pretty accounted for between work, grad school, and various projects around the house – not to mention keeping up with daily life such as cooking, cleaning, and spending time with my partner.

My wife and I are the kind of people who have always liked being busy. We usually have multiple professional and creative projects going on at once and have typically thrived with a full plate. That is, until recently. This past year, we hit a point of overwhelm with trying to balance so many things at once. It was starting to show in the ways we were taking care of ourselves, the house, and our relationship.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t anything on our plates that could be easily removed. Grad school is a constant until August 2022 and my current job never really has a slow period during the year. Plus, my wife is still in the early phases of working for herself which requires a substantial time commitment and sometimes strange hours.

All of the stress came to a head one day, causing us to take a step back and realize we needed to make some changes. If we couldn’t take anything off our plate anytime soon, we needed to change the way we were approaching the plate so that we could tackle it more as a team. Thus, the brilliant idea of staff meeting was born!

Okay, so I realize this isn’t anything new and probably just sounds like a glorified version of a family meeting by another name, but hear me out!

Our quickest staff meeting has taken 30 minutes, and our longest 3 hours, but that time commitment is so worth it.

We call our meeting a staff meeting instead of a family meeting for a couple reasons. First, during staff meeting we discuss the logistics of our household along with task management and delegation. Second, we both have experience supervising staffs and facilitating meetings at work, so we follow some of the same principles we use from our experiences in these roles. And finally – and most importantly – because we think it’s funny.

In our house, staff meeting takes place on a Sunday and it comes with a three rules.

Rule #1: Staff meeting is always conducted while sipping a beverage. If it’s in the morning it might be tea or coffee, if it’s the evening it might be beer or wine.

Rule #2: Staff meeting must always begin and end with a kiss.

Rule #3: Like any good meeting, staff meeting has an agenda. I’ll break those topics down throughout the rest of the post.

Our Staff Meeting Agenda

1. Review of the last week

We briefly review the notes from the past staff meeting (kept on a Google Doc in our shared Drive) to see if we followed through on everything or if anything needs to be carried over into the new week. We also check-in with each other to see how we felt about the prior week.  

2. Which days are we each working late?

Since a big part of Cassie’s job is teaching workshops, there’s usually at least one day during the week that she’s working late. I’ll also have a couple days where I plan on working late, either for my job or for grad school. Sharing these days ahead of time helps us plan our week better and be on the same page. I can plan to do my homework on the nights that she has a late work event so that we can maximize our evening time together. Or, if we need more alone time we can plan for that when the other has to work late.

3. Who do we have to call/email and who is calling/emailing?

These are those annoying phone calls that need to be made, like to the cable company. We’ll see if we need to call a doctor, or a get a quote for something, or follow-up on a previous call. We’ll list them out and delegate who will contact each that week. Sometimes it comes down to a good ol’ rock paper scissors match.

4. Is there anything we need to buy?

This is usually for household things that we need but often forget or put off indefinitely. Recent things in this category included our new vacuum (that was desperately needed), plane tickets to visit family, and blinds for our windows. We usually will order these things online during this section of staff meeting so that it’s done and we both get a say in the final purchase.  

5. What are our 1 or 2 big to-dos for the week?

This category isn’t for daily chores. Like I said earlier, we’ve been doing a lot of projects around the house and we still have a long list of projects to go. Each week we’ll pick one or two of these bigger projects to tackle and put it on the calendar. These might be…

  • build the large raised flower beds in the front yard
  • build the bench for our dining room table
  • do a deep clean of the house.

What we select is based on how the rest of our week looks and what we think we will have capacity for. It also sometimes affects what goes into the “what do we need to buy?” category.

6. What is something extra that we need from each other for the week?

This is a chance for each of us to share something that would be really helpful for us that week and ask our partner for some extra support. That could be some extra sensitivity or dedicated time together. It could also be emptying the dishwasher every morning, taking the lead on making meals, or delivering lunch to the office on a certain day when you’re slammed with back-to-back meetings all day. (A lot of these revolve around food, honestly).

In my opinion, this question is the secret sauce that makes our staff meeting so successful.

7. Meal plan

Pretty self-explanatory here. We us Plan To Eat* to make our meal plan for the week. Plan to Eat stores our most-used recipes, makes a grocery list based on our weekly plan, and even has a tool that lets you prep meals for the freezer. Because Plan to Eat* makes a grocery list for us, we will often put in a grocery delivery order right after we meal plan so that we are all set for the week. This is super helpful!

8. Reconcile the budget

Finally, since most of our finances are still separate, we reconcile our budgets in YNAB and figure out what we owe each other for the past week.

That might seem kind of like a lot to get through, and it is. Our quickest staff meeting has taken 30 minutes, and our longest 3 hours, but that time commitment is so worth it. It sets our week on the right path, it helps us connect and be on the same page, and it’s a chance to make sure we’re each showing up for the team. Our household runs smoother and we each know what we can expect from each other for the upcoming week.

If you and your partner are feeling overwhelmed, not on the same page, or are struggling to keep up with everything, I strongly recommend trying out your own version of a staff meeting! Staff meetings are big reason why I even feel like I have the time and energy to write this article right now!

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