With the proliferation of gadgets, streaming videos and other modern distractions, family fun night might seem like an antiquated relic of a bygone era. In a time where getting everyone to eat a meal together can be a tall order, the thought of an entire night dedicated to family bonding might seem like an impossibility. But despite the difficulties you might have with getting everyone on board in the beginning, many kids need a family fun night—and here are seven reasons why.
#1: It gets their eyes off the screen
While some families watch movies during their time together, there are plenty of other activities like starwatching, making crafts, baking and playing board games that you can do with your kids. While television and video games aren’t inherently evil, a break from the average five hours of television a day Americans watch is a nice way to expand your kids’ horizons and show them that there’s a world beyond the latest Skylanders game.
#2: You can teach them something
If you took piano lessons or learned how to play the drums when you were a kid, teach your children. Form a band with them and play songs. Or, if you’re not musically inclined, show them how to camp or make crafts. If your children are entrepreneurial, figure out how to help them start a business. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination. Just don’t focus too much on learning at the expense of fun—always keep your kids’ interests in mind, instead of your own.
#3: It shows them you care
Kids aren’t stupid. They might seem like they’re totally wrapped up in the latest episode of Dora the Explorer or texting their friends. But on some level they realize you’re busy and do a lot to make sure they have a good life. Which means that taking an entire night out of your schedule and spending it with them is worth a lot. You can tell them you love them, but taking time that you could spend elsewhere proves that to them. And that, more than any fun to be had, is truly invaluable to a child.
#4: They can be creative
Allow your kids to plan fun night—it gives them both a responsibility and the opportunity to use their imaginations. They’ll work hard to come up with something entertaining and unique for the family to do. Better yet, all that thinking will show them that they can be creative—even if the teachers at school or their peers say otherwise.
#5: It gives them something to rely on
As adults, we tend to forget that being a kid is pretty darn difficult in its own right. We often look at their endless expanses of free time and lack of financial obligations and think well, what do they have to worry about? Oh, nothing at all—except social pressures, homework, their bodies constantly changing and a host of other challenges unique to childhood. With so much change going on around them, it’s wonderful for a kid to know that Friday night (or whatever night you choose) is a time to sit down, decompress and have fun, regardless of what’s happening in the rest of their lives.
#6: It builds a good habit
To expand on the fifth point, the consistency of a weekly fun night also instills a strong sense of habit. Good habits are the foundation of success, moreso than discipline or willpower. Demonstrating this to your children from a young age can have profound effects for the rest of their lives. And to think you won’t even have to lecture them—they’ll subconsciously begin to understand the concept, through the good feelings and benefits that they start to experience as a result of this one positive habit.
#7: They can be kids (and you can, too)
Family fun night allows everyone to be silly and unwind without fear of judgment or embarrassment. That means kids who are growing up too fast can still maintain ties to a fleeting childhood. And adults who have forgotten what childhood is like can reconnect with the past (and maybe better understand their children in the process). Ultimately, beyond all the other benefits, family fun night is about having fun. Don’t over complicate things and cloud it with too many ulterior motives. The other stuff is nice, but often all you and your children need after a stressful week is a reminder of why the struggle is worth it—family.
This post originally appeared at The Grio and is sponsored by McDonalds.