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We have a family night in most nights unless our eldest sleeps out or has friends to stay. This doesn't mean we do something everynight though as like most people during the week we just don't have the time to do anything great. Life and dancing get in the way - come home make dinners for next day run children dancing or something make tea wash clothes etc etc. Although we try to have tea together most nights.
So a family night to us is to do something nice that isn't just sitting in front of the television, although sometimes we do watch a family film and eat chocolate but then the girls become more interested in the chocolate than the film!
So a nice family night to us (other than watch a film) is a party tea in the room where there is no television, wine for the adults and soft drinks for the girls with chocolates for afters. It would be quite boring for some, we have the food then we just go with whatever takes our mood, sometimes the girls play nicely together and we chat and watch them play. We always have the music on in the background; for us this is a nice chilled out evening with no pressure.
Sometimes we plan more and say we will have a games night (this usually turns stressful but is getting better) which is difficult because of the age gap with 2 girls one aged just 13 the and other just 5. Recently we had a fun night playing 'Pop N Hop' which is a cheap version of frustration - we all got quite competitive about sending someone home etc. We are in the process of teaching the youngest our favourite card game too so once she fully masters it that will a card night fully sorted rather than just the odd game.
The girls favourite family night is coming up to mummy and daddy's bedroom (don't ask me why) so every now and again we try to make this a bit special by having some candles on (out of reach of course) and we connect the play station (yes there is a wii in the eldests bedroom but it wouldn't be the same, if we all went in her room!) I might read a bit, the youngest might play but we will all have a go on the playstation and depending what game we put on it can get a bit rowdy. As it starts to get late my husband might play his guitar to calm things down. If we don't get the playstation out the keyboard might come out and the bongo drums for a bit of music. To us its about being together and sometimes turning the television off.
A family night is about being together and having fun; adults need to forget any problems and just chill and go with the enjoyment of being together
I'm surprised sometimes when people tell me they would like to spend more time with their children, but they just don't have the money. Time and money are two different things, and there are plenty of fun things you can do that are not expensive.
I believe it is important to set aside some time, just for family, so we have a weekly family fun night. Of course my children are quite young, so we do alot of these things other nights too, but I wanted to set up a routine of spending one night together as a family that I sincerely hope will last as they grow older, although I know it will end up mostly video games and dvd's eventually. I think just spending time doing simple things make it's easier to discuss important issues as they grow older. it in that easy relaxed time, that thoughts and feelings can flow forth freely. I also feel that having fun together deepens family bonds and connections. Of course it doesn't have to be every week, you can have a family fun night once a month, or however it suits your own family best.
Here are some of our ideas for family fun, I hope I'll be reading yours soon.
Board games : Most families already have a few, but you can pick them up at boot sales very cheap. I know this doesn't strike many adults as the best fun, but the children love it. We recently spent almost 2 weeks in a caravan and my son said one of the best parts of the holiday was playing board games every night ( the tv didn't work). Board games allow alot of time for conversation too as they are not as fast paced as video games usually. Even the youngest can join in with simple games from elc.
We have a good collection of games, but sometimes make our own too. We have our own Hotwheels Snakes and Ladders game made from a tv table and using the diecast cars as markers. Looking for an old monopoly set to make a transport monopoly, ranging from dog and travois through steam engines to the F1 cars and the space shuttle. Besides being fun, these games are educational too.
Puzzles - We have tons of them, from the most basic wooden ones to jigsaws. We even have one that doubles as a fishing game. It has magnets on fishing rods and metal studs on fish shaped puzzle parts. We often spend a whole evening happily working on one puzzle after another.
Wii night - This is really what the wii was made for, interactive family games. Some of our favourites for family play are of course Mariokart ( everyone loves that one), Carnival, wii Fit and Carnival Golf.
DVD night is very simple and of course self explanatory.
Crafts night - we have made all sorts of things from home made candles using all the old broken crayons saved up all year and old candle wax, to Christmas decorations, Halloween decorations, a pinata, cardboard rocket ships, paintings, felt puppets, clay ducks, even a spooky house with built in ramps and tracks for hotwheels. I keep a drawer of all sorts of old things that can be recycled for crafts, cloth, buttons, egg cartons, broken crayons, etc. Add a bit of elc paint, some glue and imagination and you can always find something to make.
Stories by candle light - perfect around Halloween.
Puppet shows - All you need are a couple of hand puppets, or make your own from bags or socks and act out favourite stories. A couch pulled out will create a decent stage, or you can make a brilliant one with an old wash machine box.
Shadow theatre - The boys love this one at the moment. You just use a sheet for a screen and a bright light and then have toys or puppets act out a story. You can also practice what shapes you can make with your hands.
Summer nights -
Playing hide and seek, tag or football out front. We are currently trying cricket as well.
Crazy golf at home - if you have some golf sticks and a ball you can make your own crazy golf course using anything. Ours usually include the roads from a happyland set, a plastic alligator from an old golf game, buckets, ramps and anything we can find. The children have as much fun setting up as they do playing.
Water fights - nothing is more fun than soaking Mom and Dad.
A contained campfire to tell stories around and feed sticks to the fire.
I know this is meant to be for nights in, but had to include one cheap night out for summertime - You tell stories around a fire, then go out to a park, forest or countryside with flashlights and have a nighttime hike, looking for wildlife - and possibly ghosts or monsters. My husband convinced my son he was going looking for a big bad wolf and went ahead and howled and held to glow sticks in the bushes to be the wolf's eyes. He was rather disappointed it was just Dad, but we still had plenty of spooky fun.
Finally the food - Of course sometimes we treat the kids to something like KFC or Dominos but making your own can be much more fun. BBQ is nice in the summer, or even a late night picnic in a tent. But we also make cookies with cookie cutters and decorate, ice cream cones that look like animals ( see the Askey's boxes), home made ice cream and cakes or buns. Another favourite is pizza dough shaped with cookie cutters, a light spread of sauce and top with cheese. Cheese toasties, again with cookie cutters, bread dough shaped like animals or vehicles with ham and cheese or sausages inside make fun treats too. Or of course you can have the simple favourites like sausage and chips.