In the face of streaming TV, online and video games and the lure of smartphones, the tradition of family fun nights and game nights seem to have fizzled out.
The death of family fun nights has also been compounded by people suffering burnout from the demands of school and work life.
“We are all distracted and busy these days. Parents are tired and feeling flat after a long week of work, kids are lost in their digital world of social media and online games, and somewhere in this chaos of life, we have lost the precious connections with our families,” commented Jonathan Hurvitz, CEO of Teljoy.
Surprisingly, lockdown and load shedding, for all the inconvenience they caused, ended up creating an atmosphere where this fun, quality family time could be revived.
However, many have been left racking their brains for activities to do on family fun nights that are fun, entertaining and help to nurture that all-important bond.
Here are 5 cool things to do as a family – whether your lights are on or off!
Build a fort
Pull out those old sheets and blankets, push the couches and dining room chairs together, and set up a fort in your lounge.
You can also create some ambience with a lamp (or solar light), gather your favourite snacks, and tell each other stories. Alternatively, face the fort opening towards your TV or set up a laptop and have a Fort Movie Night.
Does it have to be a fort? Not always. If your kids are into princesses, call it a castle. If they like superheroes, it can be Batman’s Cave. Then get into character and play out the fantasy!
Remember to get the kids involved in building the fort, and not just the games inside of it. It’s great to get their imaginations going right from the start of the activity, and they will be far more engaged if they are a part of the planning and building.
In the event that your lights are on, video games can also be a great way to bond with your kids for family fun nights.
So, if that’s more your speed, you can get a PlayStation 5 or Xbox console and games from Teljoy and battle it out under the blankets, either, parents versus kids, or two against two.
Global movie nights
If you have family or friends overseas, it can be challenging to spend quality time together.
So why not book a time together over the weekend (make sure to sync everyone’s time zones) and choose a favourite movie or series to watch together?
Make it more fun by setting up a Global Movie Night WhatsApp or Slack group, so you can share moments of excitement, unravel your conspiracy theories around the plot, and pause at the same time to whip up a snack, grab a glass of wine or cup of coffee in an interval.
Family book club
If you were ever part of a book club, you’ll probably remember more of the social side than the actual books you were reading and discussing.
Why not incorporate that into your family fun nights by scheduling a monthly family book club evening, where each family member gets to choose a book for that month?
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Then meet up in the lounge, or if you’re spread around the world, jump on a Zoom or Teams call, settle down with a blanket, and have a fun chat about the books each person has read.
You can also swap out books (digital books make this easier), and read your instalment for the following month’s club meeting.
Revival of board games
Board games are great for when load shedding hits!
Traditional board games like Scrabble, Monopoly, Battleship, Snakes and Ladders, Pictionary, Ludo, Twister, and Uno can provide hours of fun and a little healthy competition on family fun nights!
“Board games are seeing a general revival,” said Hurvitz, before adding “as many people look to detox from their digital devices, and give their kids a break from staring at screens all afternoon and over weekends.”
This one may seem really simple, but getting a couple of snacky foods and drinks, spreading out a blanket, putting some vibey music on, and having a picnic can be some of the best family time spent together.
It’s different from going out to a restaurant for lunch or sitting at the dining room table for a meal. The informal “vibe” of a picnic instantly lifts the mood and helps conversation flow more easily.
Family fashion show
Roll out the red carpet (or whatever colour you have), and let the family strut their stuff.
Family fashion shows are loads of fun and give everyone a chance to dress to the nines and practice their catwalk sashay.
You can even invite granny and grandpa, or an aunt or uncle, over to be the judges.
Remember to create different categories and make sure to have the prizes ready.
Family detective evening
This one will require some creative thought and work from the parents – but is a surprise family games night that the kids will love.
Invite additional members of the family around for an evening of detecting. Create a mysterious storyline (or find one online), with clues that lead to different parts of the house, garden, or complex. Get your neighbours involved to dish out the next mysterious clue, if you live in a safe estate.
Whoever follows all the clues and unravels the mystery at the end is the winner.
You can even make this a quarterly or annual challenge, and engrave a trophy that the winner gets to sport until the next detective evening for family fun nights.
*Compiled by Kaunda Selisho