There’s nothing worse than forced, family nights! I can hear that parent now, “You will have fun whether you like it or not!”
I don’t want to have to twist my kids’ arms to spend time together as a family. I want them to love it now when they are little, so they’ll love it later during their teenage years. So how can we make family night fun without having our kids dread it?
1. Start young.
Starting family nights at a young age will show our kids how important it is and create lasting memories.
2. Laugh a lot.
Incorporate laughter. To do this requires taking a chill pill as parents and kicking back and acting carefree. It’s time to take the seriousness down a notch.
3. Take turns choosing.
Let everyone in the family have a turn choosing what you will do. Maybe have a central chalkboard of ideas or simply pick from a hat and be surprised!
4. Be spontaneous.
Sometimes the best family nights are the ones we don’t plan. Pack everyone up and drive somewhere. Surprises are great. I love what Dave Stone has to say about spontaneity in his book, Building Family Ties with Faith, Love, and Laughter:
If you have young kids, some of your spontaneous activities will not require much advance planning. Take advantage of that luxury now! Come bedtime, say, “Get your PJs on and meet me at the car. We’re going to the drive-through at Krispy Kreme doughnuts.” Or, on the spur of the moment, surprise the kids with an overnight campout. Pitch a tent in the yard and make s’mores on the grill.
Unfortunately, the older the child gets, the more reluctant we parents are to risk doing something spontaneous. We fear having our crazy whims backfire, and so we’re hesitant to step out in faith. We struggle to keep up with what our kids like this week—or maybe even this afternoon! But don’t let it keep you from taking some risks and raising the joy quotient for your family. And remember that even when you get it right, your teens may never let on that they’re really having fun. – Dave Stone, Building Family Ties with Faith, Love, and Laughter
5. Find a common interest.
Pick a family hobby that you all enjoy doing together. When my husband was little, his family played a lot of sports and also spent time on the water during the summer months. They grew to love the water and now our children do as well! How awesome when family interests can be passed down to the next generation.
6. Be real and be present.
Your children will pick up quicker than anyone what is real and what is fake. We must let our children know that we love spending time with them. So put down the cell phones and laptops and get down and play with your kids.
7. Incorporate your faith.
No matter what we are doing as a Christian family, we should be honoring Christ with words and actions. Psalm 19:14 says,
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.
8. Some ideas for family nights:
1. pop your own popcorn and head to a drive-in movie
2. miniature golf
3. make a craft together
4. play a sport outside (Wiffle ball or kickball are great family games in the yard)
5. go for a bike ride
6. go for a hike
7. do volunteer work
8. play board games or cards (of course!)
9. charades or karaoke
10. look through old photo albums
11. watch old family movies (maybe your wedding video or when the kids were born)
13. bake together
14. go fishing
15. trace your family tree together
16. build a birdhouse or some other project
and there are countless other ideas… what’s your favorite?