Family Nights That You'll Actually Enjoy

Listen, when it comes to family time I am a firm believer in the quality over quantity philosophy. We all have a limited amount of time in our day and in our week. Time can actually be our greatest defeat while still being our greatest asset. I had a weekend family retreat last week and I can attest that there never seems to be enough time. But regardless of all the time we DON'T have, the time we DO HAVE we can intentionally invest in our family.

Today I am so excited to introduce to you a momma that knows the value and importance of intentionally invest time and energy into family time. I know she will inspire you as much as she inspires me to do small things with great love. Check out our Q&A along with some steps to making family night a night everyone will enjoy. Here's my conversation with Crystal:

Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family. 
A: Hi I’m Crystal. I’m a deep south Southern girl from Mississippi, who married the love of my life from New Jersey, by way of Japan, and for the past 6 years have lived in Oklahoma in the same town my parents grew up. We have 2 amazing kids who light up our world. They are 7 and 2. We are a homeschool family and love it. We love to have fun with each other. 

Q: What is the most difficult part of motherhood for you right now? 
A: That’s a 2 part answer because I have 2 kids! First, with my oldest, is seeing the little man that he is becoming and trying very hard not to stifle his God-given strengths and abilities, while trying to guide him in a way that his strengths don’t become his weaknesses. It is a hard balance. With my youngest it is POTTY TRAINING!!!! My oldest trained in 3 days and was a breeze, but my daughter is doing it at her own pace and that pace is slow! It’s hard some days, in the midst of these motherhood trenches, not to feel like a failure or to compare myself to others who seem to have it all together all the time. That’s when I have to take a step back and look at the bigger picture, and to not be overwhelmed at the moment I am in right this second. 

Q: What part of motherhood gives you the most joy right now? 
A: That is a loaded question! I personally find so much joy and fulfillment from the honor and privilege of the calling of motherhood. I find joy in the big things like helping them see and discover something about themselves or the Bible or the world. Watching their eyes light up with innocent amazement brightens my world. I also find joy in the smaller things like hugs and kisses and hearing my son shout “I HAVE THE BEST MOM IN THE ENTIRE WORLD” to our neighborhood. Or having my daughter tell me that I’m her best friend. In my opinion motherhood is JOY. Don’t get me wrong, it’s work, HARD WORK, but oh so fulfilling. 

Q: How does motherhood look different than what you expected it to be? 
A: To be honest, I don’t think I realized how tired I would be all the time, but in the same breath not really care how tired I am. 

Q: What do you think are some major keys to developing a positive family dynamic? 
A: 1. Realizing that you as the wife/mother are the thermostat of your home. That you set the atmosphere of your home and family. It doesn’t just happen. YOU make it happen. I always say, make the mundane things in life magical. Be intentional. 
2. Remember to be in the moment and not wishing away the season that you are in. I know the days can be long and tiring but the years fly by so quickly. If we spend our time wishing our kids or family into the next stage or season we miss out on the blessing and opportunities of the current moment, and we can never get them back. 
3. Give your family the best of you. When we have guests come in our home we bring out the good dishes. We set the table. We tidy up. We give them our best, and most of the time, when it comes to our family, we are just in survival mode. Doesn’t that seem wrong? To give your best effort to someone else? I feel its so important to give our best to our family. They deserve it. Why not bring out your good dishes for family dinner and light some candles and invite your family to the table rather than just some rushed meal that you hurry through so you can get out the door to some activity you really don’t want to do in the first place. If you put in the effort in a simple thing like family dinner, I promise you will see the benefit. 
4. Make your own family traditions. They don’t have to be anything outlandish, just simple things that make your family special. One of ours is rainy days. When its raining outside my kids get excited. They immediately run and grab all the blankets in the house. They know that a rainy day means we are going to transform our living room into a fort, and we do. Whatever our plans were for that day we now do in the fort. We homeschool, so yes, we do school in the fort. We play in the fort. The last rainy day we had my son even slept in the fort. When he woke up the next day he told me that it was the best night of his life. Isn’t it amazing that something so simple, that costs me nothing but my time, created a “best night of my life” moment for my son? 

Q: What are some things you have done to be intentional with family time? 
A: I will preface this with saying that it takes effort to be intentional. Mundane to magical moments are not so magical that they just happen on their own, but they are doable. They don’t have to cost a lot of money or be some big crazy thing. They just need you and your investment of love and time. 

Some of my favorite things we do revolve around dinner time. My husband and I have set a rule that we will sit down as a family and eat dinner together at least 4 to 5 nights a week. We make dinner time a special occasion every night. We set the table with real dishes. We use cloth napkins and we talk. I have a jar of conversation starters. Each night one of us will reach into that jar and read the question and then we discuss it. We have laughed over these, and at times we have cried, but always we leave the table feeling loved and heard. Some of the questions are more serious and some are more light hearted. If I have ever forgotten the jar my kids will quickly remind me. They love it. If anyone ever comes over for dinner they participate too. 


We also have “family night” 1 to 2 times a week. When the weather permits, we move dinner outside. Yes, I will use a real table cloth and bring out my real dishes and set a table outside. Why would I do that? I want to give my family my best. Setting the mood is the first part. My husband loves music so he usually has a playlist going. Something about moving the dinner outside like this makes eating hamburgers and corn on the cob seem so magical! 


We will usually play a game or 2. Instead of just playing an ordinary game, we have the Williams Family Yard Olympics. We will have commentary throughout the night. We also keep score. Two of our favorite games are cornhole and glow in the dark bowling (which uses 6 water bottles with glow sticks inside and a hamster ball full of glowsticks for the ball). 

If we are having an evening outside we will almost always end it with s'mores. I keep a s'mores kit ready at all times. You never know when you will need to make a s'more. I also frequent the dollar spot at target for things like glow sticks, bubbles, and sidewalk chalk. I try to always have those things on hand. They are basic things that you can do so much with. 


We also like to watch movies. We will move all the furniture in the living room and make a big comfy pallet and all lay down together and watch a movie and eat popcorn. We also might switch it up a bit and do “drive in movies” in the living room. This just involves me giving the kids boxes to decorate. Putting paper plates on the corners for wheels and having them drive up to the movie. They sit in their box and watch the movie. They can also visit the concession stand which is just a table I set up with snacks. These are just a few small ideas that involve a little effort but have a massive impact. 

Q: What are some goals you and your husband have for your family? 
A: We want to raise people who are passionately in love with Jesus. People who value family. People who value others. People who are who God created them to be. We want our family to be close now and in the future. We also want our kids to feel they can talk to us about anything, which is why we have those dinner time conversations. Its setting the stage to let them know we want to hear their thoughts and opinions. 


Q: What encouragement do you have for all the mommas out there? 
A: That you’ve got this momma! He gave YOU those precious kids because He knew that you were just who they needed. Remember that. Your kids need YOU, not someone you are trying to be. Don’t compare yourself to others. It’s okay to be inspired by someone, but NEVER compare yourself to them. Comparison is the stealer of our joy. If you are feeling overwhelmed, and we all have those moments, pause. Take a deep breath and adjust your focus. If you are looking at all the things that are wrong or all the things you are not getting done, you will be overwhelmed. Try to find something to be thankful for. Doing this will shift your attitude and give you purpose and strength to change yet another diaper or referee a sibling squabble. I challenge you to make the mundane magical.


---- A Look at the Details ----
Wow. I don't know about you, but I feel inspired by everything Crystal had to say, especially concerning the thought of giving your family your best. She is so right! Too often our family gets our leftovers because we have given all of ourselves to everyone else. But they deserve our best. And I LOVE the idea of making the mundane magical. Challenge accepted!

Crystal was kind enough to show us what family night at the William's looks like. Here is a look at some of the beautiful details along with an easy Amazon shopping list complete with links so you can grab everything you need for your own Family Night. You can order right from your phone and have it at your door by Monday morning! This is doable and the options are endless! Have fun with it and let it take on your family's personality. And when you do plan a family night, please, oh, please, SHARE WITH US!




---- An Amazon Shopping List ----






















2 comments

  1. I put a conversation jar on my dinner table last night:) I have been inspired by this article.
    Thank you

    Hopefully dinner photos coming soon:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yay!! So glad! Can’t wait to see how it turned out! :)

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