family game night, the power of traditions

The greatest gift my best friend Brian ever gave me was starting the tradition of family game night. He would come over on the weekend for dinner and instead of just wanting to talk to me, he would pull out a board game or two and get my three (now teenagers) involved. The laughter, learning and sometimes frustration is priceless. How could something so simple and obvious become such an important bridge to knowing and enjoying my children?

I pride myself on being a dedicated mom (some accuse me of being a helicopter mom) and focusing on the needs and happiness of my children, literally every second of the day. But, REALLY interacting with them usually included me telling them to get up, brush their teeth or do their homework, chores or write thank you notes. Most of the time, I was telling them what to do (good old fashioned parenting). I didn’t realize that I was missing was a chance to see their personalities, negotiating skills, sense of right and wrong and most of all, simply connecting (being present) without the distraction of phones, iPads or electronic gaming.

My son started a dry erase board list from 1 to 10 of the games he wanted to play in anticipation of my best friend Brian’s arrival. We started years ago with hide and seek, freeze tag, and concentration. Recently we moved on to Monopoly, Ticket to Ride, Battleship and more board games.

Of course, we enjoy special occasion traditions like baking together for holidays, organizing our family reunions and celebrating birthdays. Brian made me realize that daily and weekly traditions are just as important (if not more). The first few game nights, I am embarassed to say that I busily sat out of playing games to clean the kitchen or catch up on email. UGH! I heard the screams of laughter and friendly joking coming from the other room. My kids always asked me to play. I finally joined the family game night tradition and was hooked. They are some of the best times we have ever had, including when one of us storms off because we don’t win or just don’t feel like playing. Brian taught me a family lesson that I deeply needed to learn. Our family game night tradition has given us joy, connection and precious time together. Don’t wait for a formal occasion to have some fun!

From all of us, we wish you the richest, happiest daily and weekly family traditions. Please share yours in the comments, we would love to hear your favorite family games and how you honor your time together.