While the school routine for all 3 kids has settled in nicely, our evenings (after dinner) are really getting stale. Every evening, we choose either to watch a movie or play video games. Some of us participate, some don't. Even though it seems fine most evening, each of us wish we spent more time actually doing something together. I am lucky to have teenagers that still want this!
This has happened before. When evenings start getting boring, I call a family meeting and we work together on a plan. We call it the "family time plan".
The idea is simple and it starts because we all like to spend time together and do fun stuff, but if we don't actually plan for it, we don't do it!
My family thrives on routine and a light schedule. By light I mean that it can easily be adapted or changed. It's flexible, nothing is written in stone, but it's there as a guideline. I have used the family time plan on and off for many years.
Here is how our family organizes this plan.
We hold a family meeting. Even when they were little, we did this. We go around the table and everyone gets a turn talking about what they would like to do together. We all talk about it. I always get the job of writing down everyone's ideas. Anything goes, as long as it's something we can do together.
Here is our current list:
- Sketch Tuesday + TV series
- Board game/Card game
- Video game (must be multi-player games)
- Read Aloud
- Lego Quest + Music
- Fun Active Night
- Free Night (no movies, no video games)
I take everyone's ideas and match it with an evening. I first write out any regular extra-curricular activities. For us, it's Army Cadets only. Wednesday evenings will be a special Dad & Celeste night. This time, we came up with eight ideas. I am using Monday to rotate two choices. One week will be video game, the second week fun active night, then the following Monday video game again, etc... I use a blank monthly calendar page to keep track.
You can see the photo above better by clicking on it. It's the plan I wrote out during our family meeting. I have to write it out on the calendar.
There is one more step for a few activities. If you look on my plan, I have written in parentheses "hat draw" in several spots. This "hat draw" means that, for example, with movie night we all choose a certain amount of movies ahead of time, write them on little pieces of paper and keep them in a jar. On movie night, we pick one out. This limits the amount of time discussing what movie to watch. You know how difficult it can be to get the five of us to agree on a movie, a board game, or card game? The hat draw helps a lot.
Every family is unique, so if you like this idea, make sure to talk with your children and your partner! You will very likely come up with some great ideas that fit your family perfectly.
Here are links and more info about our chosen activities:
Sketch Tuesday : Great art activity by Harmony Art Mom. We have participated in the past and submitted drawings. We might do the same or just pick our own themes. This activity is paired with watching TV series. It's just a habit for us. When we first started doing this a few years ago, I had put on a Bewitched episode while we were sketching and my kids looked forward to it every Tuesday evening. They all spent more time drawing while watching the TV than when it was off (I tested this!). This time, we will rotate between different TV series. Some current favourites: Doctor Who, Sherlock Holmes, Smurfs, Terranova, Glee, Once Upon a Time... Whichever we can find online, on Netflix or at the library!
Movie Nights and Board Games/Card Games : We use the hat draw for both of these evenings. Everyone is asked to watch/play. We all have favourite movies and board games but this is about spending time together. My husband sometimes is the first one to complain about having to watch a movie (like My Fair Lady or Mamma Mia) that he doesn't really like, but we remind him that when his pick comes out of the jar (something like Transformers) we will sit and watch with him!
Read Aloud: We are starting with Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales. I like to pair reading aloud with a quiet activity like drawing, painting, or playdoh.
Lego Quest: This is a great activity for Lego fans! The quests are done but the creator is leaving the blog up with all the old quests. We will use the hat for this, choosing a few quests and also adding open choice. Along with the Lego Quest, we will have music playing. I'd like to have different styles of music every week playing, but not sure how well that will go over..we will see!
Fun Active Night: This will involve a hat draw too. We will have several choices to start: treasure hunt, hide & seek (or seek & hide!), grandma's footsteps, charades, dancing... Simple games that involve moving around that all my kids still love to play!
Free Night: Pretty self-explanatory, no movies or video games. Option to do something together or not.
Let me know if you do something similar or if you will try this idea with your family, I'd love to read about it!