Family time is important for bonding and maintaining relationships. Summer is easy to fill with tons of outdoor activities and fun vacations and day trips, but what do you do during the cold winter months? One great idea is to incorporate a game night into your regular weekly schedule. Kids will look forward all week to the specified night. When it finally rolls around, everyone will get in on the excitement. If you’re looking forward to adding this tradition to your winter schedule, here are some tips for making family game night successful.
1. Avoid arguments. It can be very difficult to agree on which game to play, what constitutes “cheating,” who gets to go first, what snack you’ll eat, and any number of seemingly small choices, especially with young kids involved. If you’re worried about arguments ruining the fun, make sure to plan some ground rules ahead of time. Think about problem areas and set rules that will work for your family. For instance, perhaps each member of the family is assigned a week of the the month to pick the game or everyone picks a game and then votes on which to play. Perhaps there’s a standing “youngest goes first” rule, or each time you play you roll a dice to see who goes first. If kids have a hard time with sportsmanship, institute a “no complaining” rule, a “no accusations” rule (for cheating) and a “fair game handshake” for the end of the game. Present the “rules” in a laid back way, but don’t waver once they’re set.
2. Build your arsenal. Make sure to invest in several group games that are appropriate for the ages in your family. You’ll want options so no one tires of the same games. You’ll also want different types of games, from board games to action games, from card games to dice games. Don’t underestimate the old standby’s of checkers, dominoes, and even tiddlywinks! Consider looking into educational games as well, which teach children on the sly, without them even realizing!
3. Offer refreshments. Food is always a great incentive to gather and visit, so why not add snacks to your game night, too? You can plan them together, or pick one family member each week to be in charge. You can use it as an opportunity to encourage healthy snacking choices, or it might be the perfect time to try out some snacks you normally don’t indulge in!
4. Don’t force it. If there are weeks when kids don’t want to join in the fun, don’t force them to the table. Let them know you’ll miss them during the game, but that it’s their choice to participate or not. But don’t let that cancel the activity altogether! Carry on as normal, no matter who’s missing – even if it’s just parents playing! Forcing kids to join in on the fun with foster resentment and bad attitudes which can affect everyone’s mood. Family time should be fun for all involved, and it won’t be if you push it. Chances are, when kids realize that the fun will go on without them and that they’re missing out, they won’t be absent very often!
5. Keep it consistent. You may have to adjust game night at times to accommodate schedules, but on the whole you should make it a scheduled event that everyone plans for at a certain time. Not only do kids respond better to routine, but it’s more likely to become a fun tradition that you stick to if it’s not always changing willy-nilly for anything that happens to pop up. So make sure to clear a night of activities (for instance, don’t plan it for a night that there’s usually piano practice or a day when there are often soccer games) and resist the urge to throw extra to-do items into the schedule for that open slot (if you happen to have a lot of extra errands one week, or a friend wants to meet for dinner for example). Not only will this solidly plant game night into your family schedule, but it will make family members feel even more important if they can’t be easily replaced by book club, jogging with a neighbor or a chance coffee break with a friend.
Kimberly Mueller is the “me” over at bugaboo, mini, mr & me, a blog that highlights her creative endeavors. She especially likes to share kid crafts, sewing attempts, recipes, upcycled projects, photography and free printable gift tags/cards. When she’s not enjoying being married to her best friend, chasing after the natives (AKA her three kids) and attempting to keep the house in one piece, you can find her with a glue gun in one hand and spray paint in the other. Aside from DIY pursuits, she also enjoys writing, reading, music, singing (mostly in the shower) and the color yellow. Kimberly recently published a craft book entitled Modern Mod Podge. You can also find her on Facebook, Pinterest,Bloglovin’ and Instagram. Email her at: bugabooblog(at)yahoo.com
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