Do you crave time as a family aside from the day to day activities and responsibilities? Time to have a picnic or play games together, or time to just be together to enjoy each others’ company?
This is what family date night is all about–creating downtime to have fun and just be together as a family.
Yep, you knew I was going to say that, right? Yes. schedule it.
But scheduling is not spontaneous! Well, when was the last time you had a fun as a family just being together? Has it been a while? If so, then schedule time together.
When we schedule something, we make a plan for it to happen. I tell our kids, “If it’s not on the calendar it doesn’t exist.” We put things on our calendar to make sure they happen. Otherwise, they can be forgotten.
Family is a priority, Put family date night or date afternoon on the calendar. Make it happen.
Decide as a family what to do.
At the meal before our family date (lunch before an afternoon date or dinner before an evening date night) we discuss what we want to do during our family time.
Our kids usually want to watch a movie or play games. We go around the table and each person says what he or she wants to do. If it is a movie, which movie he wants to watch. If it is a game, which game she wants to play. If we need a consensus, we take a vote.
Watch a movie.
Oh boy! This was so much easier when our kids were all younger. Now we have the age range from eight to nineteen. It can be challenging to find a movie we can all agree on. Luckily, movies don’t need a more restricted rating to be good, so we have a lot to choose from. It can take some brainstorming to come up with new ideas until we all come to an agreement on what to watch.
Play a game.
We have a closet full of board games, decks of cards, and dice. We find something we all want to play or can all play. Some games aren’t feasible for kids who are just learning to read or who are a bit young to really understand the concept of a particular game. In this case, our youngest will pair up with my husband, myself, or an older sibling.
We often pair up to make playing more fun. Sometimes we do so just to play the same game together. Some games call for 4 players. If we can’t get away with playing with more players, we break up into four teams.
Another thing we have done is to set up different game stations. We’ll choose a few different games that can be played with two people and set up game stations around the room. We will rotate what games we play and with whom we play them.
We have also had game tournaments. We’ll pick a game and play in two groups. The winners of each group then play each other for first place.
We prefer to stay close to home for our outside family dates. We usually do these in the afternoon or early evening when the sun is still out.
We like to go on walks together in our neighborhood or local foothills.
We will play croquet or bocce in our backyard or at the local park.
Yes, I really did write have fun. I know it may sound odd, but we all know how things can get in a family! “It’s my turn!” “He doesn’t know how to play.” “Don’t look at my cards.” “Don’t show me your cards.” “Stop walking in front of me.” And so on and so on and so on.
My husband and I try to set the tone of joy and excitement, looking at family date times as something to look forward to, not something we have to do.
Build relationships together.
For us, the main goal for family dates is to work on building relationships with each other. In the day to day activities of life as kids grow, meaningful and fun time together can diminish in frequency. Scheduling time to spend together as a family helps us to make sure we keep our family relationships a priority.
What about you? What does your family like to do together? How can you make time together more intentional?
For a related article, go to “Planning a Kid Date Night.”