Fun, inexpensive ways to have fun with your kids.
Family Fun Night: Easy, Inexpensive Ways To Have Fun With Your Kids
©2000 T. L. Gray
Family fun doesn’t have to be about games or parties. Some unique ways of spending quality time together as a family include a night of sitcom, chef for a day, reviewing those fantastic home videos, critiquing moral-of-the-story family shows, wacky science projects, stargazing, a night at the movies, and dinnertime discussion about the most horrible or funny thing that happened to you that day.
A night of sitcom provides laughter—the best medicine—and promotes general small talk among family members, a concept that is highly underrated. It eases stress in both adults and children. Plus, it jogs the memory, bringing to mind humorous instances from the past that all family members can share or relate to, such as the time your brother got stuck in a barstool, or a disastrous first date.
Chef for a day is a great way to teach children independence and responsibility, while at the same time instilling in them a sense of pride and achievement. They’ll be more likely to try new foods—and, perhaps, revive old favorites—if they’ve prepared or helped prepare the meal themselves. Starting out with simple recipes, such as their favorite cookies or macaroni and cheese helps provide initiative. Once they’ve discovered they really can “do it”, they may even look forward to the chance of making it a weekly event.
Home videos are another form of bonding in which all family members can relate. It can also work at bringing siblings closer together as they take a step back in time to the days when chocolate cake all over the face, dressing up as Ninja Turtles for Halloween, and building tents with Mom’s best blankets remind them what family is all about.
Critiquing Family shows, such as Touched By An Angel or the After School Specials, can expose children to various real life situations and their possible solutions. Exposure to elements that may not be present in your home stimulates critical thinking skills. It also provides children with a sense of general problems plaguing families of all types, creeds, and religions, and, most importantly, helps them to appreciate their own environments in some ways, while helping them develop problem solving techniques.
Wacky science projects are a fun way for the whole family to learn. Forget the old growing-mold-in-the-refrigerator trick. Devise new ways of experimenting. Each family member takes the same idea and applies their individual, inventive way of setting up and executing the experiment. The results will range from hilarious to outrageous to horrible flops. But what fun you’ll have comparing them.
Stargazing is another opportunity to learn while studying the wonders of the universe. Typically, your local weather forecaster will announce any planet or star or comet happenings before they are scheduled to appear, their times and dates, so planning for the event is easy. How often can you say you saw Haley’s Comet streak through the sky?
A night at the movies is great family entertainment. Load yourself up with Gummy Bears, popcorn, soft drinks, and buckle down in a theater seat for action, adventure, comedy, or science fiction. Ok, who hasn’t seen Star Wars yet?
Finally, and perhaps the most important, family bonding may be as easy as discussing your day over dinner. It doesn’t have to be a glum itinerary of boring events. Jazz it up. Tell the funniest thing that happened to you that day, or a horrible or embarrassing experience. Elaborate. Exaggerate. Punctuate your story with highs and lows, punch lines. Begin a saga and reveal only a small part of it each night, so that everyone can’t wait to crowd around the dinner table to hear what happens next.
The upside of Family Fun Nights? Parents learn what’s happening in their children’s daily lives. Kids retain a certain amount of control. They feel useful, appreciated, loved, and good parenting skills. How can you lose?
The down side? Well, unless Dad is Attila the Hun and Mom is Lizy Borden is disguise, there isn’t one. Of course they could be aliens, which will make Family Night all the more interesting.