I am crammed into a dark space. My head is bent at an awkward angle and the air in this space smothers me as I inhale slowly. When the noise dies down outside, I lift the lid a tiny crack and push my lips into the open space while gulping in the cool air. Time seems to slow down but I know that I cannot give up or they’ll certainly find me and I can’t allow that to happen.
Eventually, their cries draw me out but I emerge the champion. What is it that I have accomplished? I am now the reigning champion of dark hide and seek.
This is no small feat. We have played dark hard and seek for family night often. We used to play regular hide and seek but found pretty quickly that there weren’t too many hiding places for full-sized adults and there were only so many times Josh and I could hide in the shower or closet. We were too easily found.
So, we invented dark hide and seek. We turned off the lights in the entire house and then proceeded to play. This made many hiding spots available in the shadows. The games lasted longer with everyone feeling their way through the rooms and having to allow their eyes to adjust. And hey, we were saving on electricity. Bonus.
Even in the dark, I was often found quickly. My kids learned early on that mom tends to hide in places where she can lie down. I would crawl into bed and pull the covers and pillows over me, or hide under beds where I could stretch out. I realized my plan to be comfortable while waiting to be found was becoming obvious when I overheard Judah saying to Kaia, “Always look for mom in the beds or under cushions.” Hmmm. My hiding skills might need improvement.
But one night, I felt inspired to win and I stuffed myself into Kaia’s dress up chest. I should be offended that no one even bothered to look in there. They didn’t think I could possibly fit in that confined a space and truthfully, there was a little cirque de soleil action going on. After about thirty minutes of looking which included Josh joining the search and turning on all the lights, my kids were starting to fear I had disappeared. I emerged victorious and we all had a good laugh at the mental picture of their poor mother bent like a pretzel with tiaras, army helmets, and princess dresses poking me.
We don’t always play hide and seek in the dark.
Sometimes, we do other things but we do try to have a family night each week.
Our kids can’t wait for Friday nights. The regularity of it becomes a bright spot in the week to relax and enjoy each other even if the days leading up to it have been tiring or taxing as is so often the case. We like to laugh a lot and family night is our time to really enjoy our kids with no distractions.
I’ll admit, there have been times where I wasn’t into it and was checking Facebook on my phone or tweeting during the night. My kids felt that I wasn’t all there and they took it personally. I am trying to make this an unplugged time where I am focused on relationship and not on accomplishment or multitasking.
Because the point of our family night is to connect and have fun, we usually stay home. We often find it’s too chaotic or expensive to go out,which produces unnecessary mommy stress, and when mom is not happy, it makes for a less than pleasant evening.
On nights when Josh and I are exhausted, we’ll put on a movie and have a special treat. Some family nights are elaborate and some are very simple, depending on our level of energy and what our schedule for the week has been like.
Here are some of the movies, games, and ideas we’ve used for our family nights.
These movies and games are mostly for our older kids. Nehemiah, our almost three-year old, usually participates in the first half of family night (the special treat) and then he goes to bed at his normal bedtime. The older two get to stay up with us past their normal bedtime and enjoy time with us.
We found the desire to watch movies with toddlers was something we avoided considering that Blues Clues, Dora, and Elmo topped the list and you can only hear “backpack, backpack,” so many times before you want to stick something sharp in your ear.
Our kids are now at the age where they can enjoy some of the movies that we loved as kids and continue to enjoy today. Some of them are pure entertainment but a lot of them have content that raise questions about integrity, trials, perseverance, faithfulness, prejudice, and honesty. These are great jumping off points to talk with your children about the themes that occur in movies like The Hiding Place or To Kill a Mockingbird and to dialogue with them about your value system and world view.
Here is a list of a few we’ve enjoyed.
- Swiss Family Robinson
- Old Yeller
- Where the Red Fern Grows
- Kit Kittredge
- The Secret Garden
- A Little Princess
- Anne of Green Gables
- Anne of Avonlea
- Samantha an American Girl Christmas
- Sound of Music
- Princess Bride
- Charlotte’s Web
- Meet the Robinsons
- Parent Trap
- The Fantastic Mr. Fox
- Second Hand Lions
- The Blind Side
- Akeelah and the Bee
- Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
- Chariots of Fire
- The Hiding Place
- Through Gates of Splendor
- Ruby Bridges
- Temple Grandin
- Something the Lord Made
- America the Story of Us
- Inn of the 6th Happiness
- Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story
- Anne Frank
- To Kill a Mockingbird
- Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
- The Journey of Natty Gan
- Toy Story
- The Neverending Story
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (the original)
- Despicable Me
- Monsters Inc.
Things to Do When You Have Enough Energy to Do More Than Netflix
- Dark Hide and Seek
- Baking together (look on Pinterest for fun treats to try)
- Batting cages, race track, or bowling alley (a very special once in a while family night)
- Fire Pit in our backyard & s’mores
- Camping in the backyard in the summer
- Water balloon fights ( summer)
- Cook a meal together (make it fancy or casual)
- Dinner as a picnic ( outside in the summer or a carpet picnic in the colder months)
- Lay in the yard and find stars
- Lego building parties (we all work on one large project or several small projects together)
- Board games
- Charades (write down ideas and draw from a pile)
- Listen to audio books ( Books should be free has a ton of free audio books for kids and our local library has a large selection)
- Pillow piles and movies (gather all the bedding and pillows and make a huge pile in the living room, dive in and watch a movie or cuddle and tell stories)
- Art party( paint, draw, color, do an easy Pinterest project)
- Write letters to our Compassion Kids (have the kids do art work, include stickers, take fun pictures, cook a meal from their country) Our Compassion kids are from Burkino Faso and Ethiopia and I’ve found some recipes to try as well as facts about each child’s country.
- Moose in the House
- Cranium Cadoo
- Monopoly City
- Settlers of Cattan
- Chinese Checkers
- Mexican Train Dominoes
Do you have a family night or a special time each week you spend time together doing something? Are there any special things you do with your kids to connect? What are your favorite games, movies, or books you share with your children? Do you have a special recipe or tradition that your kids love? What age appropriate games and movies do you love for your younger or older children? I’d love to hear your ideas.
Parents have different convictions about what entertainment is age appropriate and which themes they feel their children are mature enough for. Please use your own discretion when choosing what to allow your children to watch. Most of the suggestions are for slightly older children.