One of the things our family struggles with is busyness. I’m sure you can relate. It would be very easy to fill up every night of the week with some sort of obligation. In fact, a few years back, we seriously analyzed our “obligations” (church, school, family, friends, etc…) and decided to reserve one night a week as “Family-Fun-Night.” FFN happens every Thursday when we get home from work. We try our hardest to never violate FFN and for the most part we are successful at it. The “plan” (though not always executed) is every month each Thursday is different:
- “FFN out” – that means we four go out together,
- Mom and son alone and dad with daughter alone (or vice versa),
- “FFN at home” usually making homemade pizza and renting a movie
- And finally “Mom and Dad out alone” while the kids get a sitter. It may sound unfair but the kids love getting ‘sitted’ and all parents need at least ONE night out alone per month.
It seems like nowadays everyone values a set “date night” or “family night” and I am glad to see it. If you don’t have one, you should!
Well, when I was a kid, my parents were always trying to give us kids special “events” that didn’t cost very much because obviously we couldn’t afford it. My mom was particularly creative at crafting special experiences and treats. My mom was before her time when it came to family-fun-night-Thursdays. We didn’t call it FFN but it obviously was.
Every Thursday, my mom would make a yellow butter cake (with no frosting) and boil cinnamon sticks for cinnamon tea. Then at 8:00 we would sit down as a family and watch the Cosby Show, Growing Pains, Family Ties and/or whatever else was in that time slot while enjoying a warm freshly baked piece of cake and hot tea. I’m quite certain my mom would buy the cake mix when it was on sale so probably something like .50 cents a box and the cinnamon sticks were probably cents as well. Add a little sugar and margarine (which was less than a buck for four sticks) and our weekly family fun night cost less than two bucks! (I told you she was crafty!…)
Kids love tradition. That cinnamon, wafting through our apartment as it cooked, generated both excitement and security in my soul. A relaxing time was certain and it smelled and tasted familiar. I counted on it. I cherished it.
These days, we don’t need to keep our FFN at less than $2.00 but we still try to be smart and economical. We always try to use a coupon and the goal is to try to eat at a “nice” restaurant (not fast food) for less than $20. Surprisingly, it’s not that difficult to accomplish (It usually means one of us parents has to split with one of the kids). Of course, my son is only 8 years old right now. Keeping our cost below twenty bucks may be more difficult when he turns 16! If you know my boy at all, you know that statement is SO true. Family fun night is a two-generation tradition passed down through the poor, little, rich, white, Mexican. Thanks mom and dad for starting it. We are a better family because of it.