Getting out for an evening of entertainment is pretty hard with little ones.  My daughter is six and my son is three and the last time we tried to go out as a family didn’t go over so well.  My little one was too scared in the movie theatre to sit and enjoy the show.

So, we’ve learned to enjoy each other’s company and share some entertainment at home.  This works so much better for us.  We can have some fun but still get them in bed at a reasonable hour.

Here are a few tips on how to have a Night In with your family:

1)       Give your event a name.  When I tell my kids we’re having a ‘Pajama Jam’ night they know it’s time for something special.

2)      Define the activities.  Our Pajama Jam means we all get snuggly in fresh pj’s, get a special snack and pick a movie together.  You might choose board games if your family members are a little older or maybe even bring out the guitar and drum set if you’re musically inclined.

3)      Food!  At our house, we almost never have snacks after dinner.  Having a bedtime snack is a huge deal for our kids.  They love that they’re allowed to eat in the family room during our Pajama Jams and are happy with just about anything we offer them.  Popcorn is a favorite because they love to watch it popping and to shake on the salt.  Whatever you choose, make it special for your family.

4)      Assign tasks.  It might seem counter intuitive to fun but when each person can contribute they feel that much more attached to the outcome of the evening.  We make a big deal over assigning the job of turning off the lights to my three year old.  When it’s time for him to complete this task he does it with much pride and knows we can watch the movie as soon as he does it.

5)      Lay out the itinerary.  Our kids are so used to their regular routine that disrupting that often means hyper activity or even meltdowns.  To combat this, we tell them exactly what the Pajama Jam activities are.  And this includes when the night will be over and that bedtime behaviour is still expected to be well managed.

6)      Guests.  It’s lovely to have guests attend a family night in.  If your kids are of prime ‘sleep over’ age then you’ll know how having a friend over can add to the festivities.  Make sure you have provisions for your guest.  Explain and involve them in traditions or customs for your night in.

There you have it.  Having a night at home doesn’t have to be boring routine.  You can make any activity special with a little planning and finesse.  Even if all you do is turn on a movie, there are still ways to do it as a family and to have everyone involved.  Our family ‘Pajama Jams’ will always be one of the best memories I have of our kids being little – even if we have to watch Toy Story II over fifty times!

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