A TV-Free Family Night

by Lian Dolan

While we can all appreciate a night of a favorite show with the kids and munching on a bowl of popcorn, there’s something special about family activities that don’t revolve around the television. These kinds of family nights are about connection, interaction and camaraderie-- all the ingredients for unexpected fun and long-lasting memories. So turn off the tube, Mom and Dad, and get creative! Here are some simple but special ways to put together a memorable Family Night at home:

Loosen Up Kids love to see their parents get a little silly, but sometimes as adults, we have a hard time loosening up after a day at work. Let your guard down and try acting a little goofy. Participatory activities like charades and karaoke give Mom and Dad a chance to set the example of giving themselves over to good, old-fashioned fun. Take the lead and be the first up to act out your movie or sing “Don’t Stop Believing.” Feeling more ambitious? Stage a talent show where everyone participates.

Trust your own voice Feel more comfortable with a “script” rather than winging it in charades? Then make an evening out of reading out loud to the kids. But don’t wait until bedtime, when everyone is sleepy and time can run short. Plan for an after-dinner timeslot and look for mysterious short stories or funny poems that make great read-alouds, but don’t need to carry over night after night. Add a few voices, some costumes for the kids and themed snacks and you’ve got memorable evening.

Make up your own rules Family Game Night is already a time-honored tradition, but sometimes the fun disappears when the games get too serious. Don’t be afraid to bend the rules of some of your favorite board games if the scorekeeping or complicated play causes tension. Make participating the point, not winning. Use the trivia questions, the required doodles or the fill-in-the-blank questions as a jumping off point for your own personal twist on the game. Let laughter rule.

Head down Memory Lane Haul those photos albums out from their storage spot and take your kids down memory lane. Sure, most children adore seeing photos of themselves as babies, but you might be surprised how interested they are in seeing photos of your wedding or your third grade class. Ah, the bad haircuts and the dated clothes are always good for a few laughs. Take your time, answer their questions and enjoy the ride.

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