“Mom, can we play Monopoly?”
This is one of the most dreaded questions ever, because I know that “playing” Monopoly is likely to end with money and property cards on the floor, accusations of cheating, and at least one child in tears. However, family game nights are getting better with a little pre-planning, some growing maturity on the part of the kids, and reduced expectations from me.
I’m determined to make this work because my kids are at the golden age where they can read and write, they have an attention span of at least a half hour, and they don’t have much social life to get in the way of our evenings together.
Here are a few of my suggestions for making family game night go more smoothly. I’d love to hear yours as well!
1. Make a list of games that all of the family members can play (appropriate age level, length of game play, interest level). Some of our favorites are Sorry, Uno, and Clue. Sometimes we enjoy easier games that don’t require a lot of strategy, while other times we like more cerebral games (Pandemic is a new favorite and you have to work together to win this game rather than compete against each other).
2. Take turns getting to choose the game of the night. Because you’re choosing from the “approved games” list, no one is allowed to whine “I don’t feel like playing that one today!” (myself included).
3. Set a time limit for how long your gameplay will last, even if the game hasn’t ended yet. If everyone agrees at the stop time that they want to continue, go for it, but if anyone wants to quit then, game night is over. No one is allowed to quit early either.
4. Make sure you hold family game night on an evening where no one is exhausted or overwhelmed with homework or household chores. Sunday evenings work best for us.
5. Build excitement for game night by planning ahead with a special meal or other pre-game ritual to get the kids enthused.