Judie and Bill Byrd say Sunday night get-togethers with their children and grandkids are the best part of the week. Although the Fort Worth, Texas, couple, both in their 60s, are busy business owners and their children have demanding careers, they all are committed to family night.
We all need to get off the fast track and enjoy the simple pleasures of being a family, Judie says.
Every weekend, the Byrds, their three children and their spouses, and five grandchildren do just that.
I fix an easy dinner and plan something fun to do afterwardsa game, simple craft or treasure hunt in the backyardto keep the grandkids occupied while the adults sit around the table and talk, she says. Then we sing songs around the piano and spend a few minutes viewing a world map on the wall in the dining room, learning where countries are. We also keep a Bible memory verse going. Maybe this sounds like something from an old black-and-white movie, but its not. Its a weekly reminder to us all of whats really important in life.
For busy families, planning a night of family fun might seem like just another event to add to an already too long to-do list. But such a tradition can provide a regular, intentional way to make memories, laugh together, and create opportunities for family members to know each other better.
And heres more good news: You can share fun activities without spending large amounts of time, money or energy. Try these ideas with your family:
Start an ongoing tournament. Get out your favorite board game and have an ongoing tournament, tallying each persons score for the game each time you play. At the end of the month, award a small prize to the person with the highest score.
Check your community calendar. Many cities and towns sponsor fairs, festivals, concerts, classic car shows, farmers markets, health expos, dog shows and other events throughout the year. Most are free or minimal in cost. Check your towns website or your local newspaper for an activity that appeals to your family.
Look at your backyard with new eyes. If you live in a house, could you plant a garden or build a tree house together? If you are in an apartment, maybe you can hang bird feeders on the shrubs outside your patio or put flower boxes along your balcony.
Stump the crowd. Ask family members to collect riddles and brainteasers for family nights. Award small prizes to the first ones to answer correctly and to those who can stump the crowd with their puzzles.
Watch the stars. Lie on a blanket in the backyard with an astronomy chart and a flashlight. Learn to identify constellations.
Go on a safari. After sundown, take turns hiding stuffed animals around the house. Have other family members form teams, then turn off all the lights and use flashlights to find the animals. After a few minutes, see which team has found the most.
Invent a new ice cream flavor. Begin with a plain flavor and add nuts, chocolate chips, crumbled candy bars, crushed cookies, peanut butter, chocolate-coated candies or other goodies. Brainstorm about what youll call the flavor.