Your family is worth fighting for
I am consistently fighting for time with my family. This battle has been going on for decades. I battle the TV, school and homework, friends, sports, and a lack of interest in “family time.” I get tired of the battle sometimes, but I refuse to give up! My family is worth fighting… FOR.
In the midst of the “Really, Mom?” and the “But I don’t want to hang out with you, I just want to _____” comments, I stand my ground. Family time is important. Strangely, my children count on me standing my ground. They have a desire to connect, but also the desire to become more and more independent. Planning a family night can be more challenging as your children grow, but it is also more important to spend time together as they get older.
Your family is worth fighting for
Setting the tone for family contentedness is super important. It helps children de-stress, bond, build trust, and grow socially and emotionally. All good stuff. So why don’t most parents make family night a priority? Sadly, it is because a. they are too busy themselves, or b. they let the children talk them out of it.
Planning a family night is not difficult. Convincing your older children that it will be fun ahead of time can be the hardest part. But it doesn’t have to be a battle. Here are some easy tips to help you plan a great family night:
Prison visits can be amazing. Wait! I know, I know. Having to visit your man in prison is, well… it sucks. I am not saying it is amazing to have to go to a prison to see your husband. I AM saying, that since you don’t have a choice about where you see your husband, you can make those visits amazing. Yes, even though it is in a prison visiting room.
- Set the date. A weekend night works best for us. Depending on sports, this could end up being Sunday evening. Find the day of the week that works best for you, check the calendar to make sure your kids don’t have other commitments if they are in sports, and then lock the date down. We have Family Night twice a month because our daughter is in high school and has a lot of activities.
- Invite your family. Let them know not to make plans on this day. Keep your attitude upbeat, but make it non-negotiable, attendance required. No excuses. No friends (unless they are engaged), just family. Be prepared for older teens to be unenthusiastic if they were planning something else. But you must show excitement about the evening no matter what their initial responses are.
- Choose an activity that involves everyone in your family. A board game, dance contest, charades, movie night, crafts, scavenger hunt…… there are so, so, so many things you can do together to have fun.
- Choose snacks. This might be even more important than the activity! It is for me. If I don’t have a good snack, it is not nearly has much fun. Think about what you will be doing and how long it will take. I love to make up a few trays of finger food and set it out on a card table so it feels like a party for just us. We grab our plates and fill them with the salty, sweet, and savory snacks throughout the evening. I always include some veggies so we have at least one healthy option 😊 If you are doing a movie night, buy the popcorn containers from the dollar store and pop up a bunch of popcorn to enjoy in individual containers. Kids love to have their own container of anything! Picnics and frisbee, hotdogs and stories by a fire, PB&J and a bike ride. It doesn’t’ have to be fancy or expensive.
- Organize any supplies you will need at least 2 days ahead of the Family Night. Be sure you have everything you need to enjoy the evening together so it is not stressful.
- Remind everyone what time the fun will begin. Start on time!
- Begin by having everyone—even YOU—put their phone into a basket. No phone calls, texts, snaps, pics, or internet surfing. Only old-fashioned talking to each other allowed for the these few hours together. If you want pictures to send to your husband, take them at the beginning and end of the Family Activity.
- Even if your kids act like they are being punished by having to spend time with you, do not lose your enthusiasm for your time together. They will cherish this time later as long as you show them how much you cherish it now.
- Repeat as often as possible. Once a week is ideal if you can do it—twice a month is a minimum. As your kids grow accustomed to the new family night tradition, let them take turns deciding what your family will do next.
Keep setting time aside for your family to build memories together. The more you do it, the quicker your family will build a new habit of spending time together.
I am rooting for you!