In my last post, I mentioned why I feel it is important to have regular Family Nights. Today I will share a few ways to make these “Moments” happen.
1. They have to eat, right?!… hehe.
We eat pretty regularly around the kitchen table when school is in session, so sometimes that qualifies as our “official” family night. We (Ma and Pa) often have to take that crazy role of parent and start the conversation rolling with questions like, “How was school? What was your favorite part of today? Did you notice anything new? What made you laugh today?” Questions that can spark a good thought. Many times, I find I have to stop them so someone else can have a turn. Occasionally during dinner, we will turn off all the lights and use candles. They LOVE it. Yes, I do have boys, and sometimes they take these moments of nice ambiance to try to scare their sister! Which really is no surprise. I have discovered it really doesn’t take much to get them in a family mood – I just have to create the atmosphere.
2. There is a time for everything… Schedule it!
Equally as important to having family night, is scheduling family night! You may be like me – your calendar is necessary to function and feel accomplished. Then again, you may be able to simply remember everything that needs to get done, and do it. Either way, I have learned that just because it is important, does not mean it will magically happen! My calendar is my lifeline to make sure things happen. Scheduling our family time, which means informing my dear husband when and where, is vital. We try to do the same night every week (laughing as I type this), but it is not set in stone. We often have a whole month when it is a different night every week.
*I also want to note that I live in a real world and see this as a real world. It does NOT always happen the way I want it! But if I didn’t have the goal, it would NEVER happen!
3. Simple moments work, too.
Like I mentioned in my previous post, kids don’t always need a trip to Disney to create the moment. So here is one of my examples of creating the moment at home: My kids ask ALL the TIME, “Can we put blankets down and watch a movie?” This is the result of one spontaneous night when we decided to just throw caution to the wind and pull all the cushions off the couch and throw them on the floor (I am wild aren’t I? :)). My daughter, Aubs, grabbed EVERY blanket and pillow in the house with such excitement. I cannot even tell you the name of the cartoon we watched, but we laughed, switched positions, hushed each other, cuddled, and had a blast. It really was fun, but nothing I thought of as profound! I mean, we didn’t even eat popcorn! For some reason, my kids loved it!! Is it because Mom & Dad actually laid on the ground? (I have to say, I am not sure we parental units moved around as smoothly the next day!) Is it because it was unscheduled? Was it Dad being silly? Mom snuggling with Dad? Was it because we set aside the time? I have no idea. All I know is, that is one thing our kids find awesome and we can easily do. And these days, I like to actually throw in some popcorn.
4. We make traditions.
This is one of my favorites. I love traditions!! We do not have very many from my family growing up so I may go overboard on this end! One example is our Mema Picnic Day. My Mother-in-law has the great month of May for her birthday. Many years we celebrated Mother’s Day and her birthday at the same time. So one year we decided to take her on a picnic the week before her birthday, so she could feel special for her birthday AND Mother’s Day. I videoed the kids inviting her to her birthday picnic, and sent her the YouTube link to view. Needless to say it is now a yearly event that my kids LOVE preparing for. They do all the cooking (sandwiches) and even send her a menu now ahead of time with some options for her to choose from. It was so simple to start this tradition. Not even super creative, but it works. I think this is something they will remember forever. Partly because I plan on doing it forever!! 🙂
5. We must make time.
I admit, I can get caught up in my “schedule” and forget that there is more to life than going, going, going. For example, yesterday I was a MAD woman cleaning the house. I purposefully stayed home all day to tackle the housework! No gym, no grocery shopping, only focused on housework. I had the dishwasher going, the washing machine going, the bathroom being bleached, and I was deep cleaning the kitchen when I heard this wee little voice from the bedroom. My youngest, J, age 3, was playing pirate, and had been coming in and out of his room telling me all kinds of tales. All of a sudden I hear him quietly say, “Mommy Princess,” (my name when he is playing Skywalker) “can you come play with me?” Sadly, I have to admit that I was a bit GRRRrrrr because the entire kitchen was upside down. Then it hit me, he will be in school next year and I will not have this one-on-one time. So I put down the bleach cloth, washed my hands, and became Princess Pirate. We played for 15 minutes, laid down side by side, and he fell asleep! I was then able to become cleaner again, and finished everything on my to-do list. We must make time! Even the little moments, 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes… can they make a difference?? You betcha! I love those hugs and kisses in those 5 minutes!!
6. Family night ideas.
So, some real life examples of what my family of 5 will consider a “Family Night.” I have to admit, we live in Orlando, Florida and I work part time for Disney! So our BIG family moments are a day at a park – usually for birthdays and such.
Some others are: walking around the path at a nearby park, bike riding, going to the $1.00 movie, going to play putt-putt golf, playing UNO, coloring (They LOVE seeing daddy color! I don’t know why, but they do!), eating on our back porch, preparing dinner together, putting puzzles together, playing in each kids room all together, working in the garden, planting a new plant, reading a story to them, making hot chocolate and cramming marshmallows in our mouth, watching a movie, Reading a book to them, crafts (especially around the holiday season)…
The list goes on, and as you can see it is not a super creative list. The main thing I have noticed in all of this is that my kids really don’t need hours on end with us or me. They just need to me to turn off the phone, TV, computer, or anything that will pull me away, and just BE with them.
Kids are a treasure, and these moments help me remember that. 🙂