While I was growing up, Monday night was always set aside as family night. We would gather each week after dinner for a short lesson or activity, prayer, songs and most importantly (at least for us children) a treat. I do not remember a whole lot of specifics from the lessons taught, but the feeling of being part of a family, having fun together and learning Christ’s teachings remained with me through the years.
My own family has carried on this tradition and I have seen the benefits it has had to help our family create unity, learn of our Savior and just have fun together. Following the tips in this article can help your family establish this tradition and help your family become stronger.
1. Pick your night
This may seem simple, but if you do not pick a specific night and stick to it, it is easier to just keep putting family night off. For our family, Monday night is usually the night. However, because my husband is a CPA and often works late nights January through April, we often move our family night to Sunday night during that time. The important thing is to make it untouchable and uninterrupted. Let your phone go to voice mail and turn off all other electronics.
This does not have to be long. Younger children often do not have a long attention span. Plan for 30 minutes to an hour. After a few weeks you can assess what will work best. Sometimes your children may become so involved in the activity that more time may pass. Be flexible when it comes to the duration.
3. Plan in advance
Make assignments the week before so everyone knows what is expected of them. Many families create a chart with the assignments so they are posted. Assignments can be for a short lesson, an activity or game, a prayer, song or treats. At the end of your family night rotate the assignments so everyone has a turn.
Having a lesson provides an excellent opportunity to teach your children religious, civic or character driven principles. Be creative in how you present these. You can create flannel board stories for different scripture stories. My oldest daughter says some of her fondest family night memories are from when we did scripture charades — each took a turn miming a scripture story or character and the others had to guess what they were.
Doing things together as a family that are fun and enjoyable also strengthens your family. I remember as a middle school student my parents took us to the movies for family night. It was back in the day when there were no megaplexes — just one theater showing a single film. We stood in a line that evening, wrapped around the theater. The movie was ET: the Extra-Terrestrial.
Your family could have other outings for family night such as bowling, bike riding etc. Our current home has a fire pit in the backyard and our children love to build a fire and make s’mores for family night.
Who doesn’t like treats? One of my fondest memories from family nights as a child was getting Baskin Robbins ice cream for our treats. Whoever had treats that night went around and asked each member of the family what flavor they wanted and wrote it down. My father would then drive to the ice cream shop and bring home our favorites.
Have each family member take turns with this assignment. Let your children help prepare the treats when it is their turn.
Tie the treats to the lesson or activity. For instance if you are having a movie night, the treats could be popcorn.
When you take the time to set aside a special time and day, plan an activity and treats you can have a successful family night. Every time may not go perfectly and sometimes you may meet resistance. But if you are persistent your family will learn to appreciate the efforts made and look forward to your special family night.