The short days of January invite us to "hunker down" and enjoy a cozy evening at home. The calendar seems less hectic after the holidays, and perhaps the children don't have as many after-school activities. This is a good time to schedule a special evening with the whole family. I have fond memories of those winter nights when we would gather around to hear my dad read aloud the latest chapter of one of the Little House on the Prairie books.
It might come with some groans of resistance when your children realize this means no electronics, but it's well worth the effort. In order to get in the spirit, you could pretend that the power is out—and that you have turned back the clock to the early pioneer days when there were no cell phones, television, or electronic games. Before you settle in for your "long winter's nap, " gather with your family members—maybe even by candlelight.
First, have a quick, simple dinner. You might all prepare it together, or just have everyone pitch in to serve and eat. It's fun to have a picnic on the floor in the living room—that makes clean up quick and easy, too. Then it's time for fun together!
Include all the children, and be sure the activities are enjoyable for all ages. Just an hour or two is more than enough time to have a memorable evening. Here are a few ideas:
Because it's tempting to stay inside and warm during the winter, we often miss the adventure of being outside together in the dark. Try one of these activities to familiarize your children with the delights of the night:
The evening will come to a natural conclusion as the game or activity is complete, hopefully leaving all eager to plan another time together in the future. Finally, if you wish, after the children are tucked into bed, you might turn on the computer or smart phone. However, I'm guessing you might stay unplugged until tomorrow.
"When kids play a board game..., they're watching the other players. They're learning social skills and strategies that can't be learned by computer games."
—David Elkind, Professor of Child Development, Tufts University
—by Jane M. Jacobs, M.A., Montessori Educational Consultant at Montessori Services. She is a trained primary Montessori directress and also a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She has taught children aged 2 to 7 years in Montessori schools, Headstart, and also in a preschool for children with developmental challenges. In her counseling practice, she helps individuals, couples, and families.
—Originally Published 2013