Say “How are you?” to any parent these days and there’s a very good chance that their answer will include the word “busy”. Between work, school, chores, extracurricular activities and friends, modern family life certainly is busy! Families may, in fact, start to feel like ships passing in the night… or in the hall outside the bathroom. But it’s important for families to spend time together – to check in, reconnect and enjoy each other’s company. How to fit it into a busy schedule? Try picking a particular night of the week (like Friday!) and planning some fun together. And because eating together is one of the best ways for families to stay connected, begin the evening with a tasty meal that everyone will enjoy.
We’ve put together some great ideas for themed family nights, both at home and out on the town in Calgary.
Fun & Games
Board & card games are not only a lot of fun and a great way to get all generations of the family interacting, they’re often educational too! The kids may be having too much fun to notice, but they’ll likely be using some combination of math, literacy and reasoning skills. Pick a line-up of your favourite games – or just one if it’ll take hours to complete – and plan on having dessert or a few snacks later on in the evening. Thinking brains are hungry brains!
If the kids love digital games (and good luck finding one who doesn’t), surprise them… not only by saying “yes” to screen time but also by playing with them. Digital games can be a bonding experience too if Mom & Dad join in on the fun and the kids will get a confidence boost they when they leave you in their [digital] dust!
A night at the theatre is a special night indeed, whether you choose live theatre or a movie on the big screen.
Calgary is home to a number of live theatre companies that cater to children, including Storybook Theatre, Loose Moose Theatre for Kids, and Stage West for Kids. We can also enjoy travelling shows from groups like Broadway Across Canada, among others.
Hollywood blockbuster more your style? Find showtimes for Cineplex, Landmark Cinemas, and Canyon Meadows Cinemas (a great budget option, they show second-run movies for just $5 per person and kids under 3 get in free if they sit on your lap).
Too tired to go out or just really counting your pennies? Plan to watch your family’s favourite movie on DVD or Netflix, at home. Include popcorn and a mocktail to make it special (Mom & Dad can have a real cocktail since no one is driving!).
Arts-ing & Crafting
Kids know how much fun arts & crafts can be and – judging by the proliferation of adult paint nights, drop-in studios and colouring books – adults are beginning to remember, too! Plan a fun arts & crafts night where everyone in the family gets to make their own unique creation.
For crafting on a budget, plan a project (or choose a medium) to complete at home and pick up your supplies at the local dollar store or at a craft store like Michaels (if you’re headed there, don’t forget to print a coupon or have one texted to your phone!). Set up a nice big workspace where you can all create without bumping elbows – a disposable tablecloth is a great idea if you’re using glue or paint.
For a bit more of a splurge and an evening out, find a studio that offers a project, or drop-in night on Fridays you want to go. In Calgary, check out 4Cats Arts Studio (6 locations), Amaze Arts, Artopia Studios, Colour Me Mine, and Colour on Fire Art Studio.
Wherever you make them, we hope you’ll be so happy with your creations that you’ll be inspired to set up a mini family art gallery in your home!
Tell Me a Story
There’s no better way to promote literacy in your children than to enjoy books with them. Plan a literary night together, whether you cosy up at home with a favourite chapter book (or stack of picture ones) or head out together to your local library or a favourite bookstore. If you pick a bookstore with a coffee shop attached, you could treat everyone to dessert.
Let’s Get Moving
Even the most reluctant bedtimer will sleep soundly after an evening of physical activity, indoors or out. And chances are Mom and Dad could use a little extra exercise too!
Are kids climbing the walls? Take them to climb some walls designed just for that purpose! Check schedules at Calgary Climbing Centre, The Crux Climbing & Bouldering, YMCA Calgary, Westside Recreation Centre and University of Calgary Outdoor Centre.
Get some fresh air! When the weather is fine, head outside to visit a local park or playground. Come winter, take a spin on your local outdoor rink, go snowshoeing in a nearby park or take in the many cold-weather activities at Winsport!