By Bev and Phil Haas
Our family is looking for something to do that will draw us closer together. Home life has increasingly become hectic as the children get older and our schedules show no sign of letting up. What can we do?
Family schedules aren’t what they used to be. Kids trickle in each evening from sports practice, scouts, and music lessons. Parents work long hours. Family members often eat at different times. Computers, texting, and television keep us isolated even when we’re together.
Sound familiar? Instead of burying you even further with a laundry list of suggestions, we’re going to point you in one direction.
One of the most effective ways to draw your family closer is by regularly setting aside an evening (or part of a Saturday) where all other events and obligations take a back seat so your family can enjoy some undistracted time together. We call these times “Family Fun Nights.”
Before you take a rain check on this suggestion, keep in mind that no matter what we suggest, it’s going to require that you be intentional about scheduling time together. If you wait for extra time to open up, it won’t happen.
On the average, we schedule nearly 80 percent of our lives. We don’t hesitate to schedule meetings for work and school, so why not schedule some fun time for your family?
Take the Challenge
We suggest that you commit to having a Family Fun Night once a month. Many people suggest once a week, but we have learned that it’s better to start with once a month. Later, if you feel your monthly time isn’t enough, you can always ramp up and do more. We’ve seen families get fired up about having family nights once a week and the whole idea fizzles after only two or three weeks. It’s better to take baby steps.
Tips for a Successful Family Night
First, engage every member of your family. Ask for everyone’s input before you decide what your family will do for a fun night. Getting everyone’s input is easy, but getting everyone to agree on what sounds like fun may be next to impossible. Family members will need to lay aside their self-centered tendencies and understand the importance of teamwork and taking turns.
After choosing what your family will do on your fun night, decide when the fun night will take place. Remember, if you don’t schedule it, it won’t happen. Make sure your next family fun night is on everyone’s calendar. You may want to include timely reminders leading up to your time together.
Turn off the electronics. Drawing closer is not just about being in the same place at the same time. If you want to strengthen your family relationships, everyone needs to be in the moment and not on a cell phone. This tip is not just about electronics; it’s about keeping distractions from disrupting your time together. Just being together can never substitute for interacting together in a meaningful way.
Our Top Three Ideas
Board games and card games are the original interactive family fun, and instead of playing against a computer, your kids will be interacting with you. The classics are always good choices. Monopoly and Uno are favorites around our house, but don’t overlook new games and updated versions of old ones that are great fun as well. Board games and card games are a great way to bring the family together while teaching children life lessons, like how to be good winners and losers.
Try spending an evening cooking up one of your favorite meals together and finishing up with dessert and a movie or favorite television program. When our kids were younger we made our own pizza and we all got to add ingredients we liked on our part of the pizza. Be sure to check out Focus on the Family’s www.pluggedin.com for helpful reviews of movies and television programs.
Periodically, why not spend your family time helping others in need? Working together to serve others can be a great way to build family bonds and develop a sense of pride and fulfillment among family members—a proven way to pass on your faith to your kids, especially when you explain to them that we are following Jesus when we serve others.
Make Family Fun Nights part of your family’s routine and you’ll draw closer together while having fun. And if you engage in faith talk, you’ll also pass along your family values.
Send your questions about family life to Phil and Bev Haas in care of The Lookout, 8805 Governor’s Hill Drive, Suite 400, Cincinnati, OH 45249, firstname.lastname@example.org.We regret that personal replies are not always possible. Phil and Bev Haas are involved in education and family ministry in Cincinnati, Ohio. They are the parents of two children and they have one grandson.