My oldest son Caleb is turning 12 in a few weeks. That means we’re two-thirds of the way to him finishing high school and moving on to what’s next. Our youngest daughter, Haley, is turning 7 a few weeks after that. Kara and Orin find themselves in the middle at the ages of 8 and 10. What in the world? Where has the time gone? Crystal and I often talk about how we want to bottle up today’s memories and not let the days slip by without some intentionality.
You’re busy, I’m busy, we’re all busy! I get it and it’s easy to use that as an excuse to why we’re not making great memories with our family. I know, because I’ve done it.
About a year ago, we instituted a simple tradition we call family night. It happens once per week and has become a foundational piece of our family’s weekly rhythm. Here are a few things we’ve done to make this a success.
1. Schedule it in advance
If it is consistent and on the calendar, then it becomes an immovable priority. Our kids love the anticipation of family night, the date on the calendar gives them something firm to look forward to. If for some reason it doesn’t happen, it’s always a bummer, but we try not to let it slide.
2. Take turns planning it
This is probably the most helpful thing we’ve done. Starting with the youngest, we take turns putting the agenda together. Everyone anticipates their week to choose what we do for dinner and a fun activity; sometimes it’s Thai food and a movie, other times it’s pizza and the skate park. This has helped cut down on the arguments of where to go to dinner and wasted time trying to plan what to do. It’s super fun to see their personalities come out in what they pick.
3. Make it fun
I take myself way too seriously, and my kids are the best medicine for me when I’m up-tight. I don’t often know that until I get over my selfishness, but they are. So, making family night fun is key. Let them put too many toppings on their fro-yo. Stay up later than all of you should. Add some spontaneous spunk into the night.
The time we have with our kids when they are young is priceless, a one-time gift that we need to cherish. For us, family night is a way to capture this gift and hopefully create a legacy of memories our kids take with them forever.