Board Games are more than just Family Fun

Board games are pretty popular in our house.  We play a lot of board games on our Family Nights.  Sometimes it can get pretty intense.  Have I ever mentioned we are all a little bit competitive?  Well, actually some of us are VERY competitive.  And arguments deep discussions have ensued.

Truthfully though, we do argue over the rules, there is always a moment of pause when one looks for a specific point that will make or break his move, and continued discussion most often follows.

And it is awesome!  What better place is there for children to learn strategic planning, communication and negotiation skills.  I know folks who pay big money to master these skills.

This is our family Top 10 list of Board Games (not necessarily in order of favorite)

1.  Chess

2.  Blokus

3.  Quirkle

4.  Quarto

5.  Mexican Train

6.  Mancala

7.  Uno

8.  Catan (for the older kids)

9.  Swish

10.  Animals Upon Animals (for the younger ones)

and just a few more…

11.  Chinese Checkers

12.  Scrabble

13.  Monopoly (not really my favorite, but the kids like it)

What are some of your favorites?

 

Our Family’s Family Night Top 10

In discussing creating a family culture I have mentioned our family’s “Friday Family Night”.  Usually we stick to board games or a movie night, but sometimes we get a little creative.  Have you planned your next family night?

This is our Top 10:

1. Make pizza together.  If you like to get really messy you could make your own pizza dough.  I really like this recipe.  We often buy pre-made pizza dough from Whole Foods along with all of the toppings of choice.

2. A picnic and bike ride in the park

3. Make fancy desserts together.  I’m not really sure if this dessert qualifies as “fancy,” but it definitely was time consuming and not a cake for any ordinary day.

Rainbow Layer Cake

4. Board games  Our favorites are Qwirkle, Blokus and Animal Upon Animal.

5. Movie Night.

6.  Dinner at a favorite restaurant.  Or maybe try something new like an ethnic restaurant.

7.  Make something together.  We made birdfeeders once.  It was a mess, but loads of fun.

8.  Work on a puzzle.

9. Get take out and picnic at a local playground.

10. Hold a family meeting, maybe to plan something exciting like a summer vacation.

Family Night, a means for developing your family culture

Each family has its own Family Culture.  As a parent it is up to us to help develop this culture, because whether it is intentional or not, our choices and actions associated with our family will create the culture that ultimately molds our lives.

In our family, the Commander and I are very intentional (although we do have our unintentional moments) to create a family culture which will nourish and strengthen our children in ways we believe important.  One way we do this is through Family Night.

For us, Family Night is decided on a rotation.  Each week one of the five kids will be the one in charge.  We aim for Fridays because it is an evening that most often works for us.  Whoever’s turn it is for the week has the opportunity to decide on the dinner and an activity.  For the most part the options are limitless.  Meals are usually predictable kid favorites and afterward we  do something together which always varies.

Ironically though, family nights are not always as smooth and happy as they seem.  Honestly, there was a time I even wondered, “why bother?”.  Often there is someone who hates the dinner choice, doesn’t like the movie or stomps off because he didn’t win the game.

About this same time I was attending a parenting seminar.  It was a video course where teens were interviewed regarding their family experiences.  Overall, of the teens who regularly spent time of some sort with their families, they expressed that even though not each event went smoothly, or was their favorite, the time spent together was absolutely worth it and because of the consistency of this time together they felt much closer and more loved by their parents.

With this in mind I now see that even though not every family night is a complete success, it is still worthwhile.  Some Fridays we may laugh and play games until midnight, and other Fridays we may have tears and someone that chooses to go to bed early.  But this is normal.  It is life.  Not everything is going to go your way and you have to choose how to deal with it.  Who better to learn this lesson with than your own family?

 

It’s A Family Tradition

Just in case you have not noticed…  Thanksgiving is next week!  Are you ready?

Thanksgiving is one of my very favorite holidays.  Christmas is awesome as well for some of the very same reasons, but Thanksgiving is special.  Thanksgiving is an opportunity to spend time with your family, celebrate your friends and loved ones, and most importantly be thankful for everything you have – without presents.

We are a very consumer driven, materialistic society.  I often find myself overwhelmed by this need for stuff at this time of year.  I am especially overwhelmed by the tendency to over schedule in an attempt to “celebrate”.  This is very ironic to me considering most people, if asked, will say their most important priority is spending time with family, friends and loved ones, which shouldn’t require much scheduling (unless you live far away) and definitely does not require gifts.

But then I think back to my own childhood.  In the midst of the holiday rush I have some very distinct memories of Thanksgiving holidays.  I have very fond memories of activities my family did together year after year.   On Thanksgiving morning we always watched the Macy’s Day Parade.  It is kind of funny though, because as a child the parade was not necessarily my favorite event, it was just the best thing on television prior to football.  But now as an adult the parade brings to me joyful memories of sitting in my grandfather’s huge Lazy-Boy recliner watching the parade as the adults prepared food in the kitchen.

And then I have some memorable moments, that fortunately only happened once, like the year my grandfather had excuse himself from Thanksgiving Dinner in order to bail my cousin out of jail for driving too fast through the little, one stoplight, South Georgia town where he lived.  And while this sounds awful, it wasn’t nearly as bad in my mind as the time I accidentally bit into a big fat slimy oyster hidden inside of the cornbread dressing.

And now that I have my own family we have created some traditions of our own.  We like to use our time together the weekend after Thanksgiving to drive up the mountain to search for and cut down our Christmas tree.  We also make little cookies the kids call Pilgrim Hats, which are something we HAVE to make.  I put them off one year and didn’t get it done before Thanksgiving.  Guess what we were making the first weekend in December…

So in all, I suppose every little detail really is important.  You really never know exactly what your next family tradition will be and what it is that your children will value as they grow older.  But it sure would help if we could figure it out so that we could skip some of the other stuff that needlessly fills up our calendars.

 

 

6:00 a.m.

Do you sometimes have crazy mornings?  You know, the ones where you rush to get dressed, overlook that nobody’s hair is brushed because you really don’t have time to fix it,  ask your 4 year old to help make lunches because it just won’t get done otherwise, and you are ok with allowing the kids to grab a granola bar to eat in the car on the way to school.  And then of course this always leads to extra sibling” affection” as one kicks the other because “she is in my seat” or “he pushed me.”  Yeah, those mornings….

Well, I have found the solution!

Sorry, but you will just have to get your act together.   Have you ever heard the phrase, “You must be the change you wish to see in the World”?  I have decided this applies everywhere, especially at home.

So in our house tomorrow morning I will be the one to make the changes.  First, I plan to get out of bed at 6:00 a.m., before the sun wakes me up.  Secondly, we will all eat breakfast – on a plate and at the table.

Tonight I am going to try for the first time a crock pot breakfast meal.  I’ll have to let you know the consensus on this tomorrow.

Wish me luck, mostly just in getting out of bed on time.  I am sure the kids and the crock pot will be just fine…

 

 

Intentional Parenting

I have been very busy lately.  Five kids, a new school year, house guests, a birthday, five committees and two upcoming fundraisers has made the past two weeks a bit of a blur.

In the midst of this blur we have obviously managed to accomplish our everyday goals.  Nobody has been late to school, chores have been completed, agendas have been prepared and dinner has been served.

Although I must admit it was ever so helpful to have my in-laws in town to pick up any loose ends – or children on the days I was scheduled to be in more than one place at a time!

With all of these commitments I sometimes find myself on autopilot.  This makes me question how intentional of a parent I really am.  Am I parenting with purpose, or by default?  Are all of our systems in place so that they are accomplished in the midst of the blur?  Are my children being molded with goals in mind or are they on a path of happenstance?

The Commander and I joke that running a family is really the same as running a business.  Really though this isn’t a joke.

A business makes a plan, sets goals and works toward those goals.  Why not do this with your family?

This week I am going to update our Family Plan.  But most importantly, the Family Plan is going to be written, not just ideas thrown out and discussed.  I want to create an actual document that can be revisited, revised and grow along with our own family’s needs and desires.

I know this sounds daunting.  But, just start.  Include your children.  Make this your mealtime topic for the next few nights.  The beauty of this project is that a Family Plan, just like a business plan, will always be changing.  You can always revise or make an addendum – it is YOUR family’s plan.

If you need some assistance, begin with questions like this:

  • What values are important to our family?
  • What are our family goals?
  • Where or how do we see our family in 5 or 10 years?
  • What are our traditions?
  • What rituals do we have?
  • What activities are important to our family?
  • What rules do/should we have?