Growing up, Friday night was Family Night.
Family night was the night of the week that we looked forward to. My mother was the one in charge of planning for it and setting it up, but my father was a big part of the participation as well.
Mom's family night had several things in place that we could always count on.
Bible study/story time
The most memorable part of growing up with Family Night for was the missionary story my father spent weeks reading to us about a family with little blond haired girls that went to minister to an indigenous group of people. Every week I looked forward to hearing the next chapter.
We also went through many devotional series that my father bought for the different stages in our lives (childhood, pre-teens, teens). The devotionals always presented scenarios that made us decide- in our living room with our parents and our Bible- what our split second choice would would be if we ever found ourselves in those situations. Those lessons really stuck with us throughout our growing years and I credit the time my parents put into both daily in our devotions and during our family nights for impacting the decisions that my sister and I made as young adults.
I think he still has them........
My parents were very frugal when I was a child (one income family, dad was in the ministry, etc.), but on family night, my mother would splurge and buy a special dessert for us to enjoy. If I remember correctly, that was when I had my first taste of a Klondike Bar :)
My father would video tape a movie during the week (do you remember what a VCR was?!) or he would rent one on his way home from work that day. Then we would sit in the living room with our special dessert and watch our movie. Some nights, rather than a movie, we would play a game together- Uno (which has been known in our family to go for ever!), Parcheesi (my personal favorite as a kid), Guestures, etc.
Eventually as Faye, my sister, and I grew into high school and college, Family Night died out because of youth group activities, college classes and functions, and, of course, I met this really cute guy who wanted to take me out ;)
Now that the baton has been passed on, we have begun implementing Family Night in our home. Right now, Addie has more participation than Ian does. We allow her to stay up a little longer on Friday for it while Ian's bed time is pretty much set in stone.
Because Addie is such a creature of habit, we read her evening devotional as our Bible study before we begin. If we read a special devotional, she is smart and sassy enough to try to talk us into reading her "Bible" after Family Night was over just to get us to prolong bedtime.
We love our Netflix account, Redbox, and Blockbuster for getting our Family Night movie. We have seen two of the Alvin and the Chipmunks movies, Wreck It Ralph (not a keeper for us), the Madagascar movies (we love 1 and 3), the Little House shows, a few of the American Girl movies, and others that I cannot think of just now.
We have also done special activities, like the family tree we worked on this past Friday. Aunt Kristi gave Addie a book for girls called Just for Me! My Family and our first activity was to make a family tree. My friend Terry, not knowing about this activity that I was planning to work on with Addie sent me a link on how to make a child friendly family tree. We took this activity by steps, making the tree and making and cutting out the apples (Thank you, Cathy R for the Cricuit cartridge!) prior to Family Night. Then, with Daddy there to participate, we put it all together. (We are still gathering some photos of great-grandparents so they can be scanned and reprinted. Don't want to cut any originals since they are not digital.)
Some Family Nights take more planning than others. Some take no effort. Some take a little fore thought. Some weeks I come up with our movie and dessert that morning. Some weeks (like the week of our family tree) I have to plan a week ahead. The planning is unimportant in the grand scheme of things. What matters is the bond we develop as a family.
As kids, we loved Family Night because it was a night when we did not have to share our parents with anyone in the congregation, phones were "taken off the hook," and it was literally "us four and no more." Today, with Facebook, Twitter, text messaging, phone calls, etc., it is important to shut everyone else out of our world for just a couple of hours to show our children just how important they are to us.
Friday night may not work for you and your situation. What night would work? If you try it, I'd love to hear about it. Feel free to share what you did. If you blog about your Family Night, leave your link in the comments. We'd love to get some ideas!