Tips for Creating Family Fun Nights
As I child I was never into "forced fun." My mom and dad might make my sister and I tag along with them to the local nature park. Or go see some local art exhibit. Or some activity at the local community center. All these things were well intentioned. But they weren't always fun.
But besides those things, we did lots of fun family activities, too. When we were older, we could play spoons. Uno was a popular family card game for many years running. And family movie night with trips to Blockbuster definitely made my sister and I look forward to Friday nights.
Now that I have my own family, I'm always trying to find fun things for us to do. Since my kids are little (4.5 and 20 months), finding something they can both do is challenging. But it's not impossible. My husband and I've learned a couple tips and tricks to make family fun, well, fun.
Reduce expectations. Sometimes I go into these activities thinking they will be Instagram-worthy family perfection. And they're not. My toddler runs away, and I spend too much time chasing him. Or my daughter throws a tantrum before we even get started. So, reduce expectations! We go in thinking, we'll have fun no matter what, and if we need to be done, we will be done.
Time limited. Attention spans are not long with this crowd. I know that something like a family hide-and-seek will only last so long. Or a carefully thought out craft activity will take a fraction of the time it took to set it up. So I go into everything thinking, if this even takes 10 minutes, that's cool. When the kids have fun, that's worth it.
Let them choose. Within reason. Since my kids are little, I can't get them too much choice. That often leads to tantrums and crying. So my husband and I offer three choices: we can do the family obstacle course, bake something together, or we can play a couple games. Then I let Kate choose. She believes she's in control of the activity, so she likes that. And my husband and I can say "yes" to her choice because we made her stay within the boundaries.
My youngest is a bit too young to know his sister is the driver of many of these activities. But if you have older children, you could draw straws to see who gets to pick the activity. Or at the beginning of the month, each family member can write down an activity he or she wants to do on a slip of paper and everyone puts the slips into a jar. Then you call can take turns picking from the jar and doing that activity. When everyone is involved in the planning, hopefully everyone is more interested in participating!
What tips do you have for making family fun nights? What are your kids favorite things to do?