The Birth, Death, and Resurrection of Family Night
When I first heard the concept of a weekly Family Night, the First Born perfectionist in me had such wonderful visions. Lovely, well-planned evenings with soft lights and music, craft supplies beautifully arranged and at the ready. And my doting family all beaming at each other from across the table.
After one evening of trying to arrange paintbrushes artistically in Mason jars, I determined that Family Night was for the birds. Instead of giving up, I readjusted my fantasy. I didn’t necessarily have a plan, just that we do something together and that something had to be fun and slightly out of the ordinary. Clean-up time needed to be minimal for me. A time and space where my daughters had opportunity to talk, without my husband or me being distracted by anything else, was the goal.
If you are like me and the visions that dance in your head collide unmercifully with reality, here are some suggestions for getting started:
Play a board game
There are innumerable kids’ games out there. My favorite kinds for Family Night are the cooperative ones where everyone wins. This appeals not at all to my competitive nature, but it is really nice not to have your family bonding session end in tears because baby sister made it down too many chutes and not up enough ladders.
Suppress your inward groan, dig deep, and find that artist waiting to break forth. Watercolors, finger paints, adult coloring books, crafts. Pinterest is a great resource for finding easy crafts depending on the age group of your kiddos. If you aren’t into crafts, especially ones where glue and glitter make an appearance, then try watercolors. For some reason even the least adept painter can produce a passible work of art with watercolors The mess and clean up are minimal with the added benefit of being quite relaxing. Construct a Lego city together or build a birdhouse. Plant a garden together, and let your little one choose a few things they’d like to watch grow.
Games and Sports
Hide and Go Seek is my personal favorite. We have an old house with tiny closets and not many great places to hide but this doesn’t stop us. I always win this game because my husband and my kids can’t find anything without me.
In the summer we’ve spent the evening outdoors practicing baseball and soccer. If the weather is nice we take the dogs on a walk or look for fossils on the nature trails by our house. You could go on a bug hunt too. Kids love bugs. At least my kids do. This summer we’re going to take our black lights outside after dark and go on a scorpion hunt.
Here are some possible fun games and sports for littles ones.
It doesn’t really matter what you do as long as you are doing something fun. I’ve been tempted to have Yard Clean Up on Family Night, but I have to remind myself that getting tasks done is not the point. The point is enjoying each other.
My last three pieces of advice if you want to incorporate Family Night into your schedule:
1. Be consistent.
Put it on your calendar, tell your kids about it, and don’t let yourself off the hook even if you are tired or late getting home. Just do an abbreviated version. You can always watch a movie together, and truthfully, we have resorted to this on nights when we are all played out from the day. It requires almost no effort, but, we don’t get the one-on-one time and the intimacy that ensues after a rousing game of CandyLand.
2.Turn your phone off!
3. Have fun.
Do what your family loves, and choose an activity that engages everyone. You could even let your kids decide what the activity will be or rotate whose turn it is to choose.