If there's one thing I've learned, it's that sometimes the simplest changes we choose to make can be some of the most rewarding. Many moons ago when I still outweighed my boys by a considerable amount, there used to be that natural evening rhythm of snuggling up with a lapful of freshly washed, footsy-sleepered boys and reading them a story or three before tucking them into bed.
As the boys went and got bigger, and we all got involved in more evening activities, that ritual fell by the wayside. As I feel the clock ticking ever louder towards the day when one or both of the boys will no longer be living with us full-time, I realized I really missed how we used to all gather together at the end of the day.
I wracked my brain trying to figure out a way we could all reconnect at the end of the day in a way that felt easy, fun and not forced - something we would ALL look forward to. Then one day I thoght about how much we all enjoy playing games together around the campfire on our family camping trips, and how seldom we seem to play games when we're NOT camping.
Thus, our new routine of spending 30-45 minutes playing games together was born! We decided we'd commit to doing this Monday through Thursday, as on Friday and Saturday evenings the boys tend to spend time with their friends and Joe & I with ours (or each other) and Joe plays hockey on Sunday nights throughout much of the year.
We have a standing "appointment" at 9:30 p.m. for each of these four evenings, and each night a different person gets to pick the game. We also agreed that ALL screens would go off for the night prior to our commencing game time, which has been good for all four of us (and given that late-night screen time is supposed to disrupt your sleep, we're probably all sleeping better because of it).
It's ended up being so relaxing and fun, and great "bonding" time with some good (and usually very entertaining) conversation. We all look forward to this time together, and it just feels like the perfect way to wind down the day.
So, what are we playing? I'll admit we're a little short on good 4 player board games right now. Our favourites are tile rummy, Uno, President and Whoonu, with the boys often requesting trivia games (we have a Harry Potter trivia game and Star Wars Trivial Pursuit). We do have a Scrabble set, but no one else in the the house wants to play with me because I'm pretty much going to win :) I'm going to keep my eyes open this yard sale season to see if I can find some other good games, and we really need to learn more card games, too!
I can't believe how much this simple idea has enriched our family life - and it didn't cost us a thing except the willingness to make this time commitment to one another.
Do you have a favourite family ritual you do with your older kids? Or do you have a good 4-player game to recommend?
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