One of the easiest ways to connect and experience joyful moments as a family is to have family date nights! You may be thinking to yourself: Our family spends a lot of time together already or, Our schedules are so busy, this is just another thing to add to the list! But, it is important to make sure that family time is intentional, meaningful, and has purpose. Here are some helpful tips to make the most of your time spent as a family.
To start, try picking out one day a week or a weekend day as a family date night. It doesn’t have to be at night, either. There are lots of fun daytime activities that can be done at home or in the community. By choosing and scheduling a specific day of the week or weekend, you can provide your family with a consistent and predictable schedule that everyone can look forward to. If your children are younger, they may need to be reminded of how many days until it’s family date night. Having a calendar or other visual reminder can keep them excited for the big day! When they ask about it, you can redirect them to the calendar, and count how many sleeps are left until family date night. Remember, starting a family night routine when your kids are a bit younger makes it easier to continue the routine as they get older. It’s important to find purposeful moments to connect with your children as they grow, and family date night makes it easy to maintain those points of connection.
Although family time is fun and exciting, it is important that there are some clear rules that all members follow. Before starting an activity, begin with some basic rules: use kind words, gentle hands, no phones/emails, etc. Have each family member provide a rule or allow any suggestions for new rules, and then make sure everyone agrees. Review the rules at the beginning of each family date night so everyone is reminded of what the expectations are (to get you started, download our free House Rules at kidsconnectpsychology.com).
Family date night should match where your kids are at. Make sure the activity is at their skill level, keep it short and sweet, and include things like fun treats or snacks that might not be available regularly. You want to make sure that this time is special - so save those special treats for family date nights!
Benefits of family date night
At first, it may be hard to find an empty spot on the calendar, but we promise that family date night is totally worth it in so many ways:
Academics. Research has shown that family time helps to boost academic performance in the classroom. Family time gives you an opportunity to check in with your kids. When you show interest in your children’s school experiences by providing them with positive validation and feedback, children are more motivated to perform better in school and are more likely to continue to share their academic experiences with you.
Relationships. More family time promotes healthy and secure attachments. When your children have a good relationship with you, they tend to have a better relationship with their siblings, friends, and future partner.
Communication. A big part of family date night is spent talking with one another. Sharing highs and lows from the week, things that were fun, and things that were challenging. This helps to promote positive relationships but also supports skills like problem-solving, regulation skills, empathy, and more.
Skill-building. Family time can provide opportunities for you to actively work on increasing your parenting skills. This a great time to connect purposefully and work on skill-building with your children, like active listening, problem-solving, co-regulation, social skills, and self-confidence.
Fond memories. Family time creates opportunities for lots of great memories to be made that your children will remember for years to come. Family time provides opportunities for you to be playful and silly, everyone gets to eat fun and different snacks, or try activities they might not normally do. These memories might fuel your kids’ own family date night traditions when they are parents with their own children!
YYC date night ideas
Struggling to find ideas for your family date night? We’ve got you covered! From community outings to indoor crafts and games, there’s something for everyone.
Here are a few of our favorite ideas:
For a full list of family date night ideas, visit kidsconnectpsychology.com for our free Family Night download.
Ashlee and Lisa are child psychologists who created KidsConnect Psychology as a place for children and families to access tools, supports, and therapy. Visit kidsconnectpsychology.com for digital downloads, parenting tool kits, information about parent counselling, school consultations, daycare consultations, and more! Follow on Facebook and Instagram.
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