Family Night In! Survival Tips for Planning a Stress-Free Family Games Night


Planning a Family Night In? It’s the perfect way to relax and enjoy a bit of together time as a family. It’s important to remember that it’s a night off for you too!

Tips to make it go smoother and fun for everyone – including Mom!

#1: Keep dinner simple – Order in pizza to cut down on the clean up or if pizza is too expensive, prepare a “snack” tray instead. Get a set of muffin tins or any compartmentalized tray and serve cheese cubes, fruit cubes, vegetable sticks, a few dips, meat roll-ups, raisins, nuts, crackers, pita pieces, hummus, and various finger foods.

#2: Maintain a missing pieces bucket – Have a catch-all bucket for wayward game pieces, puzzle pieces, dice, and cards that get stuck under the sofa, behind tables and dropped into the carpet. That way, when a certain game is pulled out, the bucket can be checked for “lost” pieces before play begins.

#3: Use plastic bags for pieces – When game boxes get wrecked from overuse, use clear locking plastic bags to contain cards and all pieces. Remember to hole-punch the bag if you have young children present so it is not a suffocation hazard. Bags are also handy for travelling because they keep dirt out and are less bulky.

#4: Roll dice in containers – Save clear plastic pill or dip containers to use as dice containers. Clean thoroughly, put the dice in them and then snap the lid shut. It’s perfect for little hands that tend to drop dice or shake all over the place. The clear sides allow everyone to see the dice roll.

#5: Paint backs of puzzles – Put a dab of paint or nail polish on the back of every puzzle piece and clean up will be easy.

#6: Make a card shield – Prop up a tall hard cover book in front of small children so little ones can spread out their cards on the table in front of them instead of struggling to hold and view cards. You could also buy a child’s card holder.

#7: Play cooperative games – The ages of 6 to 8 years are the hardest times for children to accept losing. After eight years of age, it becomes easier for children to deal with the disappointment of not winning. Establish a rule that the winner cleans up the game pieces to make losing a bit more palatable.

#8: Partner up – Assign a non-reading child to an adult partner to help him read his game pieces and or write his answers, and they will play as a team.

With summer coming, consider games that go beyond the kitchen table. Head to the park and play Tag, Red Rover, Duck-Duck-Goose, Fox and Rabbit, and various skipping games or buy a big bucket of sidewalk chalk and use your driveway as a huge game board for playing games like X’s and O’s, Hopscotch, and Snakes and Ladders.

Remember that it’s not about the type of game, but the sheer joy of spending time together that really matters to your children on family game night.

Judy Arnall is a professional international award-winning Parenting Speaker, and Trainer, Mom of five children, and author of the best-selling book, “Discipline Without Distress: 135 tools for raising caring, responsible children without time-out, spanking, punishment or bribery” and the new DVD, “Plugged-In Parenting: Connecting with the Digital Generation for Health, Safety and Love”


About Author

Judy Arnall, BA, DTM, CCFE, currently teaches "Parenting Your Teen" at The University of Calgary, Continuing Education, and has taught for Chinook Learning, Families Matter, and Alberta Health Services for the past 13 years. Judy is the author of the International bestseller, Discipline Without Distress: 135 Tools for raising caring, responsible children without time-out, spanking, punishment or bribery and the newly released DVD, Plugged-In Parenting: Connecting with the Digital Generation for Health, Safety and Love and the new parenting “un-advice” book, The Last Word on Parenting Advice. She specializes in “Parenting the Digital Generation”

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