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The kids are a little older now and you've been thinking about starting a family game night tradition... It's a brilliant plan really. Family game nights are simple to set up, cost a fraction of what a night out at the movies would cost, and they're the perfect way to bond and connect as a family. As adults, many of us have fond memories of the family togetherness experienced while gathered around a board game, but how do we ensure that the tradition is as loved in our current age of smart phones, tablets, and video games? Here are some tips to help get you started and ensure your family game nights are successful.
Make it regular
Schedules fill up quickly and it's easy to let quality family time take a backseat. Whether weekly or monthly, decide on a regular evening and mark it on your calendar. Making it a routine will ensure that game night actually happens and will give the kids something to look forward to.
Make it special
Little touches go a long way. Get the kiddos excited for what's to come with a note beside their breakfast 'inviting' them to game night later in the day, then amp up the evening by adding some background music, yummy snacks, or sparkling drinks to the mix. If the game allows, try hosting game night picnic-style in the middle of the living room with layers of blankets and cozy cushions. Just remember, special doesn't have to be complicated or involved—simple can be just as lovely!
Get the kids involved
Young kids love to help, especially when it means they get to make some of the decisions. Ask them what type of snacks they'd like and let them help prepare them. Allow them to take turns selecting the games and where the evening will take place.
Little ones love being on mom or dad's team, and being part of a pair is always more fun than playing on your own! Playing on teams also opens up game nights to the very teeniest of participants and allows the whole family to partake in games intended for smaller groups.
Turn off the television, close the laptop, and leave your cell phone in another room. For the duration of game night, all attention should be on family engagement. The kids will appreciate your undivided attention and will learn focus in the process.
Be a role model
Game nights are filled with opportunities to model manners, good sportsmanship, and winning and losing graciously. Offer up lots of encouragement and accept less than stellar turns with grace, knowing that little eyes are watching and learning from your example.
Change things up
Switch off between classic games like Guess Who? and Chutes & Ladders and more active ones like Gator Goal and Elefun to keep game nights fresh and interesting. Mixing up the teams is another way to ensure the evening stays lighthearted and focused on fun.