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–Philip J Reed, on behalf of Westwood College

For the past two months, we’ve discussed an unfortunate reality of modern life:  a lack of time to spend with the family.  Obviously this is a problem that affects everybody to different degrees.  One family might lament the fact that it only gets a few nights per week to spend together as one cohesive unit, and another might be lucky to get even a few minutes together.

In today’s world, it’s not uncommon that both parents work, and it’s certainly not uncommon that teenage children work as well.  Everybody has their own commitments – be they professional or personal – and getting all of the schedules to align can be tricky at best.  But that doesn’t have to mean that “quality time” is off the table entirely; you just might have to be more creative about where you find it.

SUGGESTION #4:  Start a Family Game Night

Family game night, for many families, is already an institution.  It’s something they look forward to for many reasons:  it keeps them occupied, it brings them together, it encourages teamwork (or, depending upon the game, individual strategizing), and, in many cases, it’s educational.  Other families, however, may never have embraced the joys of game night.  Or, perhaps, their game night didn’t meet with much success.  We’re going to talk a little bit today about how to make game night successful, and we’d love to read any tips you might have as well in the comments section below!

This suggestion is actually two-fold, as the main benefit here is simply the scheduled togetherness.  Whether your family game night is weekly or monthly, make sure it at least adheres to a regular schedule.  While that might be difficult to arrange at first, it will get much easier very quickly as you and your family get used to having that time “blocked off.”  The scheduled togetherness should not be an inconvenience; it should be something everybody looks forward to!  Therefore make sure to choose a night that will not interfere too severely with other plans or commitments.

Once you’ve got the scheduling out of the way, start thinking about the games themselves.  It’s not unlikely that you already have at least a few games laying around, but you can use this opportunity to purchase a few new ones as well.  If you go the latter route, make sure you take opinions from everybody in your family, and try to find some common ground.  They may not agree on specific games, but does it seem like they prefer artistic games?  Word games?  Trivia games?  Finding something that everyone can enjoy might seem like a daunting task, but it’s not that difficult if you listen to what everybody has to say.

You should also rotate the games regularly so that nobody becomes bored.  In fact, allow a different family member to choose the game each time, so that nobody feels left out or that their opinion is going unheard.

Another important consideration is the appropriateness of the game to the ages represented by your family, and also to the size of your family.  While a complex game like Risk might be a great deal of fun, young children might be overwhelmed by the complicated rules and advanced math required.  On the other side of the spectrum, a game like Candy Land might be easy for young children to grasp and enjoy, but it may bore and fail to engage their older siblings.

Regarding family size, make sure your game supports the correct number of players so that nobody is left out, or forced to share a game piece with somebody else, as that can limit their engagement with and enjoyment of the game.  Also, if your family is small, be sure to find a game that’s appropriate for that as well.  Monopoly might not be much fun with only two players, but there’s always Battleship, Connect Four, or even Checkers or Chess.  You might technically have fewer options if you’re a small family, but that doesn’t mean you still don’t have a vast pool to draw from!

Of course, the games are just the perceived stars of the show.  In reality, the experience is all about your family, and the time they spend together, so make sure you are creating a positive atmosphere.  Be sure that neither the winners nor losers act sore.  Provide fun and healthy snacks, and upbeat and pleasant music.  The outcome of the game may be forgotten by the next morning, but the memory of family game night should last a lifetime!

About the author:  Philip J Reed works in association with Westwood College.  Westwood offers a wide variety of programs and degrees at 17 separate campuses, and also offers a comprehensive online collegeexperience, which may be of particular interest to busy parents.  For information and answers to any questions you might have, please visit the college website.