If you’re running a family, you know there is an endless list of things that get scheduled on your calendar. Between work, school, sports practices, games, homework, dance, church, doctors appointments, and a multitude of other things, it can feel like you’re pulled in a bunch of different directions, sometimes needing to be two places at once. While all of that time is spent running around for the family, you may not actually be getting a lot of quality time with your family. That is why, just like you schedule meetings, practices, and appointments, it is important to look at your calendar and decide what days are going to be just for the family. No commitments, nowhere to be except with each other.
One of the things we like to do together is to schedule on our calendar a family game night. Scheduling a night to have games not only helps make spending time together a priority, it also helps make it more likely that it will happen. By writing it down and planning around it, it will become something that everyone looks forward to and anticipates.
This night provides a valuable opportunity for the whole family to connect with one another - parents to children, and sibling to siblings. With phones aside, board games help disconnect us from the digital world and reconnect us to the physical. One of the best parts about a board game is that you can help kids work towards a fun common goal. If everyone is trying to win, you can engage in fun, friendly competition; learning how to win and loose graciously. Maybe you’re playing a cooperative game and all need to work together to solve the puzzle or complete objectives. This is a great way to problem solve with your kids and encourage them to use valuable critical thinking skills all in a controlled environment.
Another benefit is that it allows your older kids the chance to teach their younger siblings or perhaps even the whole family if it is a game they have played and is new to every one else. One of the best ways to learn is by teaching. Not only must you understand the subject matter, but you need to be able to relay it in a way that someone who is unfamiliar can understand and learn what you are teaching them and visually assess if they are grasping what you are explaining. It may seem like they are just teaching a game, but what they are really doing is practicing their speaking skills, and will gain confidence in their ability to deliver information to an audience. This is a wonderful skill to encourage your kids to practice and board games provide a safe, easy setting for them to try it out.
But the most important aspect to a family game night is the example you are setting for your children that time spent with the family is important. Your kids want to spend more time with you (yes, even your teens) and these are the memories that will matter most to them and can shape the adults they become. When looking back on our own childhood, what we most often remember are the times where we spent time together having fun. Whether it’s a meal shared, the annual Thanksgiving family football game, or a classic game of cards, the sense of connection and comfort that comes from being together as a family is something we crave. It is important that we teach the value of family time early and often as this will help our kids value it when they have families of their own.