Consider the many things that occupy a family's time during the course of a one-week period: work, school, extracurricular activities, housework, etc. Culture tells us that as parents we must become involved in the popular sports and/or clubs, we must work harder to have more stuff, and yet we must still be able to keep our house up with the Jones's that live next door. Does this all sound way too familiar? If so, consider establishing a weekly family tradition based on the concept of family togetherness. Setting aside one evening a week solely for the purpose of connecting with your children will serve many purposes, as outlined below. Make this one evening an expected part of each and every week. Your children will begin to look forward to the time together, and they will learn that your time together each week is based on your commitment to them as their parent(s) and your overall love for them. So basically, use this time as a stress reliever from the hustle and bustle of your busy week to be silly, playful, and just plain giddy with the ones you work the hardest for...they deserve it and so do you!|
Five Reasons For Establishing A Family Fun Night
- Communication: You will establish a foundation for communication which is important as your child gets older and into social groups. You want an open line of communication because when you don't talk to your child, someone else will, so let it come from you!
- Trust and Respect: Your child will be more likely to respect your authority and decisions throughout the week and, therefore, less likely to argue. You can use your time together as a springboard for important discussions. For example, "Right now, Jack, this is the decision I have made regarding your request. If it truly means that much to you, then compile a list of reasons why you feel this way, and we can discuss it as we play checkers on Friday night. Just remember that I may not change my mind." If this issue is truly important to your child, then he will invest the time to write his defense and present it to you. Obviously, this scenario is not geared for a three-year-old, but the whole idea of communication and the role it plays in your family relationships draws the parallel.
- Modeling: You are modeling for your child the importance of being together. In the midst of all the temptations society tries to bestow upon you, you demonstrate that spending valuable time together is ultimately your number one priority!
- Playfulness: Act like a kid again. Your kids give you an excuse to crawl on the floor, swing a bat, toss popcorn into your mouth, dress in unmatched clothing, and a ton of other things that you most likely would not dare do outside the comfort of your own home.
- Family Ties: Families who play together stay together! What are you waiting for? Start planning your new weekly tradition.
Ten Family Fun Night Ideas
Use the following list to help kick-start your flow of ideas. Remember the five senses as you plan your evening. What will the place sound like (music or lack of sound altogether), taste like (treats), smell like (aroma of food or candles), feel like (games), and look like (movies or other enticing "I don't want to miss that" things)? Don't overstimulate, but do consider how you want your evening to flow to ensure a secure, playful, and loving place where your family looks forward to gathering week after week.
- Forts - Pull the couch out from the wall or rearrange some chairs. Then throw blankets over the furniture to create a little hidden oasis where you can read books with flashlights, color, or play games.
- Popcorn - No matter if it's homemade, caramel, kettle, or butter popcorn, just pop it.
- Movies - You don't need to drive to the movies to get that movie theater feel. Simply grab your favorite treat, turn the lights down low, cuddle up with a soft throw blanket, and push the play button.
- Games - Rummage through your game cabinet and find one game the whole family can enjoy playing together. If you have an abundance of electronic games, then pile them up on the floor along with a pile of sticky notes. Each person can grab a game, set the timer for five minutes, and when the timer sounds, record your name and score on the sticky note. Then pass the game to the next person. Compare scores once everyone has played each game.
- Walk it out - Take an early evening walk or bike ride together. Stop every so often to sit under a tree and/or to collect small treasures that can later be used in craft projects. Each time you take a walk, each person can collect one small treasure (ex. an acorn) that can later be placed into a large glass display jar. Over time you will fill it and will have created a jar of family fun night treasures.
- Camp out - Throw a tent in your back yard or your sleeping bags on the family room floor. Mixing up your child's sleeping routine every so often will seem dreamlike.
- Silly pajamas - Challenge each other to dress in their craziest mis-matched pajamas
- Backwards night - Eat dessert before dinner, wear pajamas backwards, play a game backwards (Candyland works well for this one), etc.
- Performance theater - Act and be silly with puppets, jokes, rock concerts, plays, etc.
- Service projects - Consider the needs of your community and work together to help others in need. Your efforts will go a long way!