As a family, we have had several different traditions over the years. One of the ones we all love the most is our family time every night. It has become more of a challenge these days since we have so many kids coming and going with practices and other activities that take them away in the evening. However, here are some ways that we make nightly family time a priority in our family.
If you’re wondering about some of our favorite resources for nightly family time, keep reading. A list of my kids’ most favorite resources comes after these tips!
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Determine what you would like to accomplish
In our family, we read a Bible chapter and have a bit of time for discussion, and then we do some “fun”reading.
Determine how much time you need
How much time do you need to make this happen. This should also be relative to the age of your children. You know the attention span of your children. What can they handle?
Set an ideal time
Our ideal time is 8:30. Yes, my littles stay up later in order to make this happen, but at times we have kids still returning home as late as 8:15. Luckily, we can adjust our days just a bit since we homeschool. This allows us to keep even our younger kids up until at least 9 without sacrificing their sleep. But, set an ideal time that works for your family to have family reading time.
Be willing to be flexible
Let’s face it, life happens. This means that at times, we can’t stick with our 8:30 time. When this happens to you, which it most likely will, you’ve got two choices. Throw in the towel or become flexible. If you want to make family time time a priority in the evenings, I would propose that you are just going to have to be flexible at times.
For instance, sometimes we only get a Bible chapter read when we really get tight on time. But, keeping at least some part of your nightly family time intact keeps it a tradition – at least in some sense. Once you start finding all the reasons to give in to not having nightly family time happen, it becomes even easier to keep making the excuses. Before you know it, your nightly family time becomes a distant memory.
Do something that is of interest to your kids
This is largely determined by the age and interests of your kids. Our younger kids may not always find the Bible reading interesting, although it is important to us, but the next thing we read is almost always something they love. We rotate what we do, often by night. At times our older kids are listening to a picture book on character since the night is focused on the younger ones, but at other times we are reading things that the older ones love.
Be tolerant of your kids who listen and pay attention differently than you would think. This is something I discovered while homeschooling my second child. He needed to listen by hanging upside down on the couch. But if I made him sit still, he was NOT listening. Not only was he able to listen while he was being more active, he was also LEARNING, much to my surprise. Of course there’s no point to family reading time if no on can hear, but in my family of eight kids I’ve only got two kids who need to be more active while listening.
Have distraction available
This is another trick to keeping young kids engaged and listening. Give them pipe cleaners to fiddle with, an exercise ball to sit or bounce on. Sometimes coloring while listening is helpful, and this is also a great way to determine what your young ones are really learning about. I have kids who love to illustrate what we’re talking about and am always fascinated by what they create.
Having several resources to choose from and letting your kids decide is a great way to keep them interested and engaged. Generally, we take a vote for what we read in addition to the Bible chapter, and we make sure that everyone gets to choose at least once a week, even if their choice is always in the minority.
Protect your nightly family time at all costs. You will be tired at the end of the day, and at times you will just want to send everyone to bed – at least if you are like me. However, even on those days, do at least a small part of your nightly family night routine. I have yet to regret a time that I just pushed through. It always ends up being worth it.
As a homeschooling mom of 8, I have so many different resources these days, but my favorite resources are the ones that both I and my kids love. Even better are the resources that teach my kids something without them realizing they are doing any learning at all.
I love United States history, and I love that my kids have learned to love it, too. I think this is largely because there are so many books out there that make history fun. We are on our third time through all of these books. They are SO fun, and even my six year old is a walking history book because of what he has learned in these books. No matter what you think of Rush Limbaugh, these books are amazing at teaching American history. Just click on them for details.
These are a few of the books that are geared toward our young ones, and they do a great job of teaching the character traits that kids (and even adults!) can struggle with. There are so many by this author and even other books related to these. No matter what character trait you want to focus on, you can most likely find a great book about it. Just click on them for details.
This is also a well-loved book in our family. It’s written by three siblings, and it often takes a comical approach to the lessons it teaches. We are actually on our second copy of this one.
My kids love reading one of these virtues and then having everyone guess which category it came from. It could be perseverance, giving, love, and things like that, but having to guess keeps everyone paying close attention since they want to get it right! This makes this book a win in my book!
These are amazing accountings of various historical figures, but they are made for young kids. Of course through reading these books, kids are learning about history and character while just enjoying what they are reading. There are SO MANY to choose from, but they are all fantastic. Even my six and four year olds pay great attention to these.
This is geared towards little kids, but even my older kids have fun. These are really creative and usually you can create these adventures with things you already have on hand. We have had this book since my older kids were younger, and they still talk about making the ark out of a laundry basket.
Having nightly family time is among my top three family traditions. It is something we have done from the time my oldest kids were born, and I know that it is one of the things my kids will remember most about the time they spent living in our home.
If you are looking to make family time a priority every night, keep these things in mind. And, find some resources that your kids love!
We also try to do a family game night once every couple of weeks. You can find some of our family games in this post, The Ultimate list of Games Every Family Must Have.