We have recently introduced family fun night. Up till a few weeks ago, we were bath-every-night slaves to the bedtime routine set down when the children were very little. Recently, because of holidays and whatnot, things have been getting a little more lax, with no demonstrable negative effect on bedtime. We are pretty lucky. Our two are excellent at going to bed and staying there, and I am not sure that it is much to do with our parenting. It’s much more likely to be down to inheriting 50% of their DNA from a woman who loves her bed.
What with work and everything else I felt that I was seeing very little of the children and what time I had with them was filled with compulsory things like baths and tooth-brushing. So we introduced family fun night. It happens twice weekly, generally Wednesdays and Fridays. We have dinner and then instead of running the bath we spend half an hour doing something as a family. It is very fair, with the choice of activity rotating around all of us, and as long as the activity is safe and achievable within the timescale, we have a go.
So far we have had Playmobil (2 year old), cards (Dad), making a large sea scene (5 year old), building a den and reading bedtime stories in it (me), Lego and Duplo (2 year old), Easter-egg dyeing (me), decorated the Easter Tree (5 year old), flying mini-strings of bunting like kites (2 year old), drawing a huge picture (5 year old) and various other things. It has been great and we have really enjoyed the protected time together. It also means that at parents, we have to relinquish control and give the children a say in what we do. It has relieved the monotony of 7-night-a-week baths and above all it has been loads of fun.
It is lovely to think of possible activities and store them up for later use. It is my turn next and we are going to make paper dolls (we love the Julia Donaldson Paper Dolls book) and we are all looking forward to it. I cannot recommend it enough, even if you can only manage it occasionally as a special treat.