Many families share the tradition of family night, a night devoted to doing something fun with the kids, be it ordering a pizza, watching a movie or playing a board game. No matter the age of your children, making a commitment to a designated “time out” from the hectic logistics, running around, fussing, stress and arguing that often makes up family life is a priceless investment in a family’s sense of togetherness and connectedness to each other.
If you’d like to make Family Night a tradition in your family, it’s key to choose a non-negotiable time that will work for all. Perhaps doing this weekly doesn’t work for your clan; the third Saturday each month might be more realistic. What matters is choosing something that works for your family so that it doesn’t become another dreaded obligation.
For those among us who know this is a good idea, but actually feel anxiety or a sense of dread of boredom, try this. Start by allocating two hours for Family Night. Sometimes grown-ups have to re-learn how to “chill,” lighten up and simply enjoy and know the ones we love. What you do during Family Night will naturally change as your children grow older. No matter what you do, just keep a few ingredients the same: Fun, consistency and time together. Here are some suggestions for creating a good time for all.
1. Have an easy meal. This might be the night for take-out or ordering in. Or make preparing the meal itself part of the evening’s activity. A homemade pizza with a salad, sandwiches with a pre-made favorite dessert are examples of meals everyone can help make without taking up the whole evening.
2. Learn your kids’ attention spans. Doing one activity, like playing a long board game, may be frustrating for some children. Perhaps your evening will be more fun if you plan on doing a couple of different, shorter activities.
3. Board and classic games. Find your family’s favorites. Monopoly (Junior)? Life? Pictionary? Scrabble? Perhaps you enjoy other classics such as marbles, card games, Make buying a new board game can become a holiday tradition that makes its way on to the Family Night agenda. Active games like Charades, a scavenger hunt, kite flying, horse shoes, frisbee might be your preference. Getting to know you games allow you to learn things you may not know about each other. Play the classic Twenty Questions or check out Cranium’s Whonu?
4. Family sport. Is there a sport your family enjoys–skiing, sailing, bowling? This could be the time you know you’re all going to do this together.
7. Movie night. Because this isn’t a very interactive option, I wouldn’t choose to do this every Family Night. You might even want to make Movie Night a separate monthly tradition. But if you do have a movie night, let everyone have a shot at choosing the flick. Just make sure that it is age-appropriate for your crew.
By Terri Hall-Jackson, contributing writer, Care2.com