Family Nights: How to Make Them Unforgettable

I have noticed that children and parents seem to be drifting apart.  Weeks go by with little conversation or interaction.  My father-in-law, Jim Clark, taught me the greatest secret to raising kids:  the “family night.”

We attempted to have a weekly “family night” for the 32 years we had children at home.

Many parents now simply sit on their phone or zone out on Netflix for hours each night with no time allocated for family fun and interaction. 

Here are my “top 10” ideas for a sustainable, fun “family night” that your kids will remember for the rest of their lives:

1.  Rotate:  Each Child Has a Turn

• Usually, the oldest child prevails in the choice of the main activity each week.  We adopted a “rotation” system where each child would get their turn to say the main activity the family would do that week.

2. Media:  Movie with Popcorn (Media Activities)

• Of course, this is the favorite and old standby.  This area is tricky, however, because it can take over the family interaction and put you back in the groove of media “zombies.”

3. Physical Interaction:   

• Kids love to wrestle on the floor and be tickled!  As Dad, I was “Mr. Kingbop” who handily pinned all comers.  I was also the “Tickle doctor” who had them all breathless with laughter for 20-30 minutes at a time.

4. Suspense: 

• Games of suspense never fail.  We played “Wolf” where I would hide and the “Hunters” would hunt me.  As I saw their little legs pass my hiding place, I would shift to another place they had already searched.  Rarely found and highly entertaining!

Family fun makes a family run.  Don’t miss those priceless years when kids are full of energy and wonder. 
— Larry Stockstill

5. Competitions: 

• Kids love to compete…about anything!  Our favorite was when they laid on their backs and competed over who could “bicycle” their legs the fastest to fast music.  Hilarious.

6. Board and Card Games: 

• We found several family board or card games that delightfully entertained.  “Pit,” of course, was our all time favorite.

7. Talent: 

• “Charades” and talent shows were great fun because each child had their turn on “stage.”  Role-playing and displaying talent strengthens confidence and builds unity. 

8. Sports: 

• There seemed to be no end to the “Nerf” games being produced and we had them all.  One family favorite was playing basketball with a pair of socks rolled up and a coat hanger “rim” attached to the top of a door.  Hours of fun.

9. Paper: 

• Paper airplanes competing for the longest distance in flight worked well.  We also loved thumping 3-sided paper “footballs” down the table…especially the 3 point kicks though a goal post formed by your index fingers.

10.  Food: 

• Pizza, hot dogs, and hamburgers are the family night “staple.”  Lay aside some of your normal dietary rules that night and bake a pan of chocolate chip cookies.  Go to Krispy Kreme together when the red light is flashing!

Family fun makes a family run. 

Don’t miss those priceless years when kids are full of energy and wonder. 

The greatest blessing?  When I see my kids doing these same 10 things with their own kids!