How to Make Time for Games
Big toy companies have the right idea when they promote Family Game Night. Playing games together with our kids provides myriad benefits.
Why Have a Game Night?
We all know that games can help your kids learn and practice skills in a fun, low-pressure environment. Math, reading, writing, even history and science can all get a boost from playing tabletop games together.
And it’s not just about the kids! Use game time to exercise your own brain in a different way than you do at work.
Of course, there are also social benefits. Active participation in a game together requires social interaction in a way that is less intimidating than face-to-face conversations, but more engaging than watching TV or even playing a cooperative video game. A friend of ours calls games “social lubricant” – they’re a way to get people talking in uncomfortable situations. And a teenager’s response of “fine” to “How was school?” certainly qualifies.
Lastly, playing games is just plain fun. You remember how to have fun with your kids, right?
Game Time Planning
OK, I’ve convinced you. Having a family game night is great. Schedule it once a week; maybe even with a fun dinner like pizza or a themed night. Our friends at One Board Family have some great suggestions on how to make it special.
But We’re Too Busy for Game Night!
Oh, right. That whole “real life” thing. Every family will go through seasons where there’s barely time to eat dinner, much less sit and play a leisurely game together.
Unfortunately, is happening more and more often as our kids get older. They each have different interests, and we want to encourage them to try new things, even when that means nights where 5 people go 4 different directions. How can we still make family game time happen?
Not Just After Dinner Anymore
First, let’s get out of the rut of thinking that game time has to be after dinner. Maybe that’s been the best time to get the family together in the past, but it just isn’t working anymore.
So, maybe on the weekend. Even though weekends are busy, we can usually carve out an hour or so for the family to be together, whether that’s at lunch, after dinner, or even in the morning.
Speaking of morning, how about before school? Eat a quick breakfast and pick something that plays in 15 minutes (like these suggestions from One Board Family or our top ten filler games). A light game could be the perfect way to set the tone for what would otherwise be a dreary day.
For those times you really want to devote more time to gaming together, try scheduling as if it was a special event. Block out time on the calendar and say “no” to other obligations. Pick a theme and have a special night that everyone can look forward to – with snacks, decorations, and the promise of staying up late.
Don’t Forget, Games are Good for You
It’s easy to get caught up in the bustle of everyday life. But games help us connect with our kids and appreciate their distinct personalities – even more important when we’re tempted to feel like chauffeurs instead of parents!
Next time your kids are getting the 5-o-clock wiggles, get dinner in the oven (or turn the heat down on the stove) and pull out a quick game to play while dinner cooks! A fast moving dexterity games like Jenga, or a body-movement game like Funky Chicken will leave enough time to set the table after you’re done. We’ve got even more ideas in our podcast on games that get you moving.
Whatever you do, don’t stop playing games with your kids. You’ll remember how to enjoy spending time with them, and make memories for years to come.