Do you ever just have "one of THOSE days?"
How about "one of THOSE months?"
I can not believe how stressful this month has been. My son was in a car crash (he's fine but it was rather scary since he was out of town when it happend), we had a BEAR visit our front door about dinner time looking for his next meal (let me tell you that was super freaky), my dryer finally went out after twenty years of service, we broke the electronic key to our car so it was un-driveable for two weeks (why does everything have to be electornic these days?), and there was a stabbing at the prison where Dear Hubby works so he's not been around much at all lately so I've been 'single parenting' lately.
Totally fun. (NOT!)
It sounds to me like we need a Family Night In this week. I need to know all my Munchkins are home and that they are safe and sound and nothing is going wrong for one night. (Knock on wood.)
To help plan for the evening, I've come up with 5 steps to have a Great Family Night.
1. Have a Themed family Dinner.
Coming up with a theme dinner is easier than it sounds and it really puts the family in the mood that tonight is something extra special. You can do something as easy as putting a sheet on the floor and having a picnic dinner. Or you can put out all the fine china on the table and eat by candlelight. Or you can even go with a theme from your family activity for the evening. If you're playing Monopoly, create a set of Monopoly dishes and enjoy a dinner from Indiana Ave or Charleston Place.
2. Clean Up Dinner Together
Have everyone pitch in to help clean up dinner and get the table cleared quickly. Even little kids can take their plates to the kitchen and bigger kids can help in larger ways. Doing it all together makes the clean up faster and no one enters the night with bad feelings because "they had to do all the work while everyone else just sat around." (No, never heard that one at my house...okay, complete sarcasm there. It's a daily occurence.)
3. Pick a Movie or Game
Now, really you should have already done this before you got to this step in the evening because of course, no one will be able to agree on a game or movie. If you already have something picked out, then the kids are more likely to go with it while only a little bit of rumbling in the background.
You can rotate who picks the game each night or let it be random by picking out of a hat. Just make sure it's something you can all do together.
4. Have Fun Snacks
I know you just ate, but who doesn't like a fun dessert while sitting around chatting, playing a game, or enjoying a good movie? It seems to loosen up the jaws and get conversation flowing.
If you are watching one of the Superhero movies that are in abudence these days, you can create something fun like Superhero Twinkies. If you are playing cards, you can make Guardsmen snack cakes. Or if you're just playing out in the sprinklers for the evening, you can enjoy Goldfish crackers and give them a fun theme name like "pool toys".
5. End the Evening While Still Having Fun
I don't know about you, but as a mom I can see when things start to go downhill and the kids are getting tired of the family time. When you can see this start to happen, find some way to end the evening on a high note. You can make it a race to a certain point in the game, you can have a "next hand wins" ending, or you can say anyone past a certain point wins. Just be sure to end the night when your family is still in a good mood.
These are just five steps to help you have a great family night that I've learned from experience with my kids. You can institute a no-electronics rule if you want. That depends upon your family and whether that will put the kids in a worse mood and hating every moment they spend or not.
The idea is to get your family to be together, laugh, and have fun. If that happens, its a win no matter what you do.