Yesterday we sat down to play a family game. It has been a long time since all 8 of the kids that are with us full time, my husband and I have been able to do that. It was Veterans Day, a day off from school and work and raining outside; A terrible mix for anyone that has a large family. Our plans for a family hike up a mountain, possibly a playground or two and ice cream at the farm were shut down pretty early on.
I wanted a no TV day. No video games either. It feels like the brain of my youngest is slowly getting sucked into video games, and whenever I turn my back he is trying to download something or play something. I do think it’s amazing that at 6, without even being able to read yet, he is capable of hacking into my phone and downloading games from the play store; but that’s another post all together.
So we played “Beat the Parents” It’s a trivia style game that has questions for the kids, and questions for the parents, you have to get your teams two board pieces across the board to win. I like this game because it has current questions; example “What did Michelle Obama plant in the yard of the White House?” answer given to us was “A tomato” to which we all laughed hysterically…. the correct answer was “an organic garden” to which they rebutted, “Yes but was a tomato in that garden?”
We even sat across from each other the kids at huddled on a futon and my husband and I on the love seat directly across from them, giving each other a kiss and a wink, “we got this. I don’t feel intimidated at all” I said.
And I really meant it; those eight little faces staring across the room, ranging in ages from 20 down to six did not even make me blink, I said we got this and I knew we did.
Turns out our kids are a lot smarter than US. They whooped our asses and then back again. It was not even the 20 year old that got them through it, it was a collective. A collaboration. Of course there were arguments between their team members, a few tears, and a few you’re stupids. All which they worked out among their selves. There was the know it all, that got most answers – even knowing that jodhpurs were a type of pants….when he’s never been horseback riding. and a few that barely said anything the whole time. The point of it all is that it was quality time, it was fun, and it was a great way for us to see that our kids are pretty damn smart.
I am not a huge fan of the term “bonding” people might think that makes me weird, (and it’s usually true) but hear me out.
Bonding is a term, a label it sounds forced. I am not into forcing. Bondage ties you, but sometimes it’s against your will. I want us as a family to have free will fun. So for the sake of it all I will skip the term bonding. Yes we are a family, yes we played a game and yes we had fun.
Now we are planning to re-institute our “Family Game Night” on Wednesdays. It was a constant back in the days – before life became swamped with activities, and practices, martial arts and sports, after-school and homework clubs, kids needing to be here and there and everywhere all at once. It was every Wednesday night, and I am bringing it back.
I love routines. I love my kids knowing that every Wednesday we are going to play a family game. To be able to say to their selves, “we play a family game every Wednesday.” When I am super busy trying to clean or cook and the kids are telling me that it’s game night, that I need to play to stop what I’m doing and take a break with them, that feels good. They are excited, they have a routine and tradition to look forward too and that is so important for children to have.
We all feel secure and safe when we know what is to be expected. And in this busy day and age we rarely take a break to just sit and connect, to laugh and have fun. That’s what a Family Game night is all about. It does not even have to be extravagant. If you have no board games, or more likely no pieces left in any of the ones you do have, you can play games anyway.
Some of our families favorites:
All you need is an imagination for Charades; just pretend to be someone or something! Set up a category before each round. Such as People. Movies, Animals etc., And you can have kids play in pairs if you have a lot of them! Person who guesses correctly, goes next! Easy, free and fun all you need is an imagination.
Win, Lose or Draw
This one is similar to charades but you have to draw something and teams guess what it is. Expect to hear a LOT of “I can’t draws” coming from your crew when you suggest it but this is a good game to help you learn to draw, and just encourage them to try it, and remind them they also get to guess, so it’s not all about drawing. We like to use a big piece of white paper and just keep using it until it’s all covered on both sides. If you give each kid their own color marker this also can help make it fun, and if you have an easel than it will be even more fun.
Tic Tac Toe & Hangman
The old standbys – I love Hangman! It’s great to help kids with their literacy skills and they can use the process of elimination to guess if they are not old enough to read/write yet.
Some other games I recommend:
Apples to Apples
This one is really good for families and large groups. You may need two sets depending on how large your family is.
I really recommend just sticking to good old fashioned regular UNO. None of the fancy UNO pop or electric games. Ans I would also get a couple decks, if you have a lot of kids. UNO can be another never ending game, but if you can set limits before playing either round-wise or time-wise and if you stick to the limit it should work out for you.
Mancala & Checkers in small groups.
If you want to have a few different games going at the same time then I suggest Mancala, my kids love it and it is educational as well, it gets their minds going. Checkers of course is an old stand by and I suggest setting up the rules before playing!! Checkers starts a ton of fights in our house even though it is such a basic game.
Some games I DO NOT recommend:
Monopoly – seriously we are not having a family game all-nighter people. Monopoly makes people argue and it never ends. We will not be playing this anytime at my house, unless it’s a weekend and their are only kids 12 and up at home – so never.
Scrabble – I love scrabble but for a large family it can be not so fun. If you know what I mean. If you don’t imagine little hands all over the board, and the tiles moving around, people “touching” other people’s tiles on the board, and people “looking at” each others letters which are supposed to be hidden but in a room of 10 it’s hard to do that that equals lots of fights and arguments and this is supposed to be fun, not war. So I say yes to scrabble in small groups but a big NO in large groups.
Note that ; All games have rules, and it would be important to remind everyone to discuss the rules before playing a game. I usually get lots of, “we know how to play, ok let’s start mom” when I’m going over the rules but I think it’s an important part of the process especially with so many different opinions in one room.
So to recap; Family Game Night is an awesome tradition that you can try to incorporate into your weekly or even monthly routine, if it only works once a month for you – give it a try!
Games can encourage literacy skills, social skills and are quality time is bound to happen in the process.
One amazing thing about having a large family is that their is always an older kid that can help/team up with the little ones that do not full understand a game yet, and they can still feel like part of the team!
I love this about having a large family, everyone should be encouraged to play and even if you play parents vs. children and you get SLAYED like we did, it is still an awesome feeling because you got slayed by your kids, which means that they are pretty damn smart!