Why Family Night Is Important For Kids, And How To Start Having OneFeb 15, 2023
If you don’t have a consistent family night, I have great news for you. By starting one, you can enjoy loads of benefits, and watch your family grow closer together like never before. Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of family night, and to get some ideas on how to start having one.
The Benefits Of Family Night
There are many benefits to having a family night that affect nearly every area of your life. We’ll take a look at some of those benefits below.
Improves Family Connection 💜
First, having a family night helps improve your family’s connection to one another. This shouldn’t come as a surprise since we all know that spending quality time with someone (emphasis on “quality”) helps strengthen our relationship with them. With this in mind, it follows that spending quality time together as a family will do the same thing.
But family nights are something particularly special. There are a few unique elements involved that set it apart from the normal quality time that takes place between friends or even spouses.
The first element is that kids are involved. Kids change everything. If you’ve been around them at all, you can relate. Anything with kids thrown into the mix immediately becomes more memorable (and potentially more chaotic), which when you’re trying to make memories as a family, is a good thing. The fact that these are your kids also changes the dynamic. You’re doing everything you can as a parent to encourage, guide, and support them at every step of the way. That means the stakes are high.
Another element is that the whole family is involved in a group setting. This adds a whole new layer to any activity you’re participating in. Friends are fun, but unless they’re as close as family, they’re no substitute for the unique experience interacting with family always brings.
Builds Social Skills And Communication 💬
A huge benefit of family time is the training and skills it provides to your children. Whatever the activity, a family time helps your children learn to express their thoughts and feelings more clearly, and learn to interact in a safe social setting. It’s like a rehearsal for learning to talk with people in the workplace, or in public.
Depending on the activity, clear communication is necessary. Whether you’re playing a game, having a sharing time, or taking a walk, your kids will need to strengthen the way they receive and pass on information. The great thing is, the family provides the perfect, low risk environment in which to learn these kinds of skills.
Personal And Mental Development 🧠
The above benefit is very practical, but let’s take a look at something less tangible, but arguably even more important: the personal and mental development of your children.
Children are incredibly impressionable, and while their environment isn’t everything, it plays a huge role in their development, and the direction their life takes. They watch how you and your spouse interact, and shape their values and worldview based on those observations. Studies suggest that 50% of a child’s worldview is established by age 6, and 90% by age 12. That means your influence and the environment you establish in the home have a massive impact on your children, and can give them a huge push in the right direction.
The mental, physical, and emotional health benefits of growing up in a stable, loving, united home are incalculable. The statistics are clear that children from stable, loving homes are more likely to develop much healthier social and emotional patterns, and be more stable themselves.
Children who have the gift of love and support do better academically, socially, are more willing to try new things, are more likely to try to resolve conflict instead of run from it, have greater resilience when hard things happen, and are better equipped to raise their own children someday. And those are all gifts you can help provide for them.
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How to structure a family night ✅
When preparing for something like a family night, it helps to have a few elements in place before you begin having one. The steps below can set you up for success as you begin your journey to having a family time everyone can look forward to.
Pick A Time Once A Week Or Once A Month And Stick To It 📅
While in this blog I focus on having family time at night, the reality is, you can have a scheduled family time at any point in the week. I know some friends who have a Saturday morning family game time, and that’s been their tradition for years. The key thing is to pick a time that works in your schedule, and then do your absolute best to stick with that time. If something serious comes up, it’s okay to deviate from the schedule, but to have the best results in your family time, it needs to be a priority.
When choosing the time each week or month when you’ll have your family time, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Everyone’s schedule. This is an obvious one, but if one of your kids consistently has baseball games on Friday nights, then picking that as a family night isn’t going to work.
- How long will it be? Decide ahead of time how long you want each family time to be. It can be short, or all night from dinner to bedtime. It’s up to you, but having the expectation set ahead of time will make it easier for your kids to adjust to each family time.
- What kinds of activities are you going to do? Will they be calm, or more active? Will they be indoor or outdoor? Of course you can do a mix of all of the above, which your kids would probably enjoy immensely. The key is to have some ideas listed out ahead of time so you don’t have to stress about what you’re going to do the night of.
- Will you stay up late? If so, picking a night on a weekend is probably a better idea than a weekday so everyone can still get the sleep they need.
When you answer these questions, you should be in a good position to pick a family time you can stick to. And if you realize the time you picked doesn’t work, don’t worry about it. Go ahead and switch to a different time for a while and see if that works any better.
Have An Activity That All Will Participate In 🙌
This one seems like it will be tricky, but it really just takes some experimentation and planning. With so many diverse interests in a family, it’s easy to think that there’s nothing everyone will have in common. But it’s amazing how often a family discovers an activity that they all love. Sometimes it’s hiking or camping. Sometimes it’s reading a book together. Often there are certain games that everyone enjoys. It depends a lot on your family, but you won’t know what all of you can get excited about until you try a variety of things, and see what comes out a winner.
On top of experimenting to find things that everyone will enjoy, keep things fresh. Mix it up so that everyone can personally enjoy at least one family activity out of every few because it’s directed right towards their special area of interest. For example, if one of your children likes to paint, give it a go as a family. You’ll know that at least that specific child will have a great time, and the rest of you will probably find yourselves enjoying the activity too. If your children know that an activity is coming they know they’ll enjoy, it will help them have a better attitude for an activity they might not resonate with as much.
Once you find that favorite thing or things, try to schedule it out so you make sure to do it consistently. If your family loves camping, try to at least make a few trips a year. By consistently doing something everyone enjoys, you’ll always have something to look forward to as a family, and the anticipation is often just as valuable for family bonding as the activity itself.
By experimenting, keeping things varied, and consistently doing those key things everyone enjoys, you can guarantee that your kids won’t find family time boring. In fact, you can ensure it will be something they look forward to each and every time.
Make Sure Everyone Has A “Yes” Mentality 💥
Buy-in from your kids and even your spouse will be critical to the success of your family times. If members of the family show up grouchy or disinterested, many of the benefits the family could get out of the time will be canceled out.
Having buy-in starts with you. How you present the time, and the expectations you set up front will be key to helping your family embrace this special time.
Something that can help with this is explaining why this time is so important. Explain that family times are proven to help build connection over the long-term, and that they often become the highlight of the week. It just takes some time, and a willingness to give it a chance. Saying something to this effect can help your family shift their mindset, and experience the full benefits of these special times together.
3 Simple Family Night Ideas 💡
If you’re stumped on ideas, here are a few to get the creative juices flowing. Try these out, and then brainstorm more ideas for activities to help you engage with your family. We also have more ideas for family activities in our blog on the topic, which you can access here.
Idea 1: Family Game Night 🏓
The first idea is to have a family game night as your family time. This is a great one for several reasons.
First, the goal of games is fairly simple. Though the rules may be complicated and take time to learn, the purpose of games is constant: you want to reach some objective, and have fun doing it. The game might call for you to work together as a team, or compete against each other, but regardless, you have something you’re trying to accomplish, and you want to have fun doing it.
This makes games accessible to all ages and interests. There’s bound to be a game that resonates with each member of your family, so you know that at least one person will be happy if you play a certain game.
Lastly, games promote fun, learning, strategy, communication, patience, and good character, all of which can help families bond more.
Idea 2: Make A Meal Together And Eat It Around The Table 🍽
Idea two is to make a meal together as a family, and share it around the table.
Cooking together is a great way to bond and spend time together. While doing something that needs to be done anyway, you can build relationships, and cook wholesome food at the same time. A meal with that level of personal investment is always more meaningful than eating takeout, and it’s healthier and usually way cheaper too.
Cooking a meal together also often lends itself even more to a sit down meal instead of everyone scattering all over the house. Having meals together as a family has been shown to strengthen family connection, and it’s not hard to see why. Eating together fosters more open communication than if everyone were spread out, and we’ve all seen how food is a natural focal point for socializing. It’s in our nature as humans to talk with others over a meal, and family is no exception.
3: During Your Family Night, Have A Personal Sharing Time 💬
The last idea is to have a time of sharing during your family time. This is a great one because it intentionally opens the lines of communication between the members of your family.
An idea would be to ask each person what a favorite moment was that they had with each member of the family, and share it with everyone. This does a few things.
First, it helps give an intentional direction to the family interaction. That can be a hard thing about trying to get to know your family better. It’s hard to know what to say or what to talk about. This takes away that obstacle by giving a clear topic on which to converse.
Second, this allows you to get to know your family better. The memories they share, how they communicate, how they interact with different members of the family. Each of these are special things to know about your family.
Finally, it helps your family learn to communicate openly with each other, and bring up positive memories that they can associate with each member. This is much better to think about than to have their last argument be the first thing that comes to mind. By focusing on the positive memories, and communicating those to each other, you grow a deeper family connection than you would otherwise.
There are many other topics you can choose to talk about during your family sharing time, so experiment with them, and have fun getting to know your family better in the process.
Take Action! 🔔
Action 1: Share this blog with your spouse, or someone else you think will benefit from it 💭
Action 2: Download our Family activities PDF 📌
Action 3: Pick a family time that works for everyone, and have one this week!
Action 4: Take our Simple Family Program
You’ll never regret spending more time investing in and loving your family. With the help of a scheduled, recurring family time, you can know for certain that you’re taking a step in the direction of deeper family connection.
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