Family night: three tips to get one started at your house this week
Oklahoma City family fun starts around the table.
Family life is incredibly busy.
I'm continually amazed as we talk with friends and neighbors how true that is across the board, i.e.families everywhere have their evening full.
I work full-time as MetroFamily's marketing director and there's also something happening with that, between working in general and events. Like a lot of teachers, my husband works a second and a third job. My oldest son takes martial arts once a week. I limit it to that because we have enough to do with his daily homework and chasing after his brothers, ages 5 and 2, plus all the tasks that make a household work week in and week out.
Piano lessons are on the horizon and my soon-to-be-kindergartner wants to learn to read this summer. Other families are even busier, I know, with sports schedules that include late-night practices and weekend games.
I've heard that kids spell love "t-i-m-e" and how you balance that with everything they have to do and you need to do is the never-ending story for families.
Enter family night.
I know, the last thing you want is one more thing to have to plan for or figure out how to squeeze into your already-packed schedule. I can only tell you what works for my family and here's what that is: one free night each week.
We have to keep one evening free in the work-week and preferably one during the weekend too. Otherwise, this dynamic would be go-go-go all the time, even more than it is now, and I don't really want to imagine what that would do to our level of stress because our calendar is pretty complicated. I'm willing to bet most families feel like that too.
Family night happens for us two evenings each week: Tuesday and either Friday or Saturday.
Here are three tips to get a family night started at your house:
Talk it out: Define what you want to get out of family night. Is family night everyone around the table together or just everyone at home at the same time? If you have older kids, I can see where having everyone in the same space at the same time could get challenging, Right now, for us, it's being at the same table or watching the same movie, no phones allowed. Talk it out as a family and include the particulars like that in writing, along with a start and end time.
Come up with an activity: It's a lot easier to keep everyone in the same house, especially participating in the same activity, if all the family members are clear on what that activity is. It's movie night, usually on Friday or Saturday for us, which you can read about here. Tuesday evenings are pizza night. It's $10 Tuesday at Papa Murphy's each Tuesday so a Chicago-style pizza and a Thai Chicken DeLite help beckon everyone to the table. It's a good opportunity to reconnect between work and school.We try to pair pizza with a board game like Monopoly or Clue. What I like about both of those activities, a movie or a game, is that they give kids common knowledge and at the same time common ground between generations. Click here for Papa Murphy's coupons. You can also find them in the first few pages of MetroFamily each month, which is also available at most Papa Murphy's in OKC.
Manage expectations: Family night isn't a one-size-fits-all solution to spending time together. It won't bring instant results where all of a sudden family members get along or problems get solved. I have seen those things happen in my own family but it's gradual but more than anything, it's a good time together.
Bonus tip: Parents and other adult caretakers oversee so many decisions in our children's lives; it's just what we do. This one time, delegate. Select from a few movies but take turns letting your kids draw numbers to choose which one you'll see. Have your kids choose the movie night popcorn or a pizza night dessert. You'll get more buy-in if they participate and are excited about the upcoming evening. You'll also remember the first time you tried cookies 'n cream popcorn that would otherwise never have made it into your shopping cart.
Family fun starts around the table but it doesn't usually stay there. What starts out as a family night often ends with conversations and bedtime stories, something we can talk about when we can't talk about anything else. Watching family relationships grow keeps us coming back each week.
If you have other tips to share or alternate activities for a terrific family night, write to firstname.lastname@example.org or tell us about them on Facebook. We just might share them here or in our social media!