Thursday, March 12, 2015

Family Night

A Family Night Game, created by my son. It was a fairly
complex nation-building type of game, and we enjoyed it, 
(though we did end the evening by giving him feedback and 
ideas for improving the game). I think we will be 
playing it again.
 One unfortunate side effect of homeschooling is that since you (the parent) spend a lot of time immersed in hands-on activities with your kids, you sometimes forget to make time for ... well, "non-productive" time with your kids.

I'm not sure that's exactly what I'm trying to say...

We have three kids, fairly close in age. For many years I was the primary parent at home, and then for several years, my husband and I kind of juggled a half and half schedule. One of us was always with the kids (clearly, not always AT home), and both of us were working and/or pursuing a law degree (him), for instance. Whatever the schedule, we kept in mind that our decision to keep our kids at home remain central to the way we spent our time as a family.

As the kids got older, the schedule gradually grew more complex and involved to manage. We aren't the go-go-go family that I often see in others, though sometimes it feels like it. We spend a lot of time coordinating schedules, especially now that each of the kids has their own agendas and activities. I have to admit to occasionally longing for those blissful days with three little ones who were more or less content to travel in a pack to whatever it was we were doing for the day.

More than once in this journey, however, my husband and I have stopped and said, "Wait a minute. When is the last time we just all hung out together?"

We've often had rituals we've called "family time" as the kids were growing up. My oldest and I were talking just this week about the time we used to spend with Grandma Jo when my oldest was little. Every Friday we would take the kids to Grandma Jo's apartment along with a pepperoni pizza. She had confessed to my husband once that she missed going out for pizza. That was a family time ritual that we carried on for several years, but it passed all too quickly.

We've kept "date nights" with the kids, both individually and together over the years. I have to say of all the time I spend with my children, my favorite moments often come from this time we have set aside just to hang out together, play together, and visit.

Currently, for the last 3-4 years perhaps, we have had a standing weekday date with the family, at the moment it is Wednesday evenings. This time was originally dubbed "no [electronic] media" night, though over time it has evolved and we've been known to incorporate movies, television, and video games into the evening. Last week we went to a play at the university. The two weeks before, we gathered at the kitchen table and worked on collages, a kind of inspirational art night.

One evening we spent playing GeoGuesser on our brand new, big screen television. Often we will play board or card games. We spent a few months last year playing Dungeons and Dragons. The range of activities is fairly wide and our commitment to keeping an evening free on the calendar has remained fairly strong.

It is true that every moment is an opportunity, and sometimes the best opportunities appear when you stop trying to make sure your time is productive and full. Good for individuals to remember, and good for families, too.

Take some time to just hang out this week. No pressure. No schedule. Just time together.

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