As a busy working mom to a precocious two-year-old, taking some time to relax and enjoy some pure unadulterated family time is extremely important, and really valuable to the workings of a healthy nuclear family unit. Sometimes, though, when you think of “family time” it’s often about going somewhere…to the zoo, or a children’s museum, or to a fun gym class. The problem with these things is that not only do they cost money, but they also can cause more stress, especially with young children and all you have to tote around to placate their every whim. Of course our little family of three enjoys these activities, but sometimes I’m searching for a break that involves slowing down to smell the roses. Then it hit me: Family Movie Night In.
The great aspect about Family Movie Night In is that you can be on your own time frame, have as many potty and snack breaks that are needed, and well, if your kid wants to ask over and over about, “What he doin’ Mommy,” you will not be bothering the movie crowd if you were to actually venture to the movie theater with your children. Every question can be answered without bothering others. And at the ripe age of just turning two, my daughter thoroughly enjoys “Movie Time!” and will gladly sit for a whole 90 minute children’s movie, with the requisite breaks of course. Starting your own Family Movie Night In is very easy. Here are some tips to get you started to begin your own family tradition that can grow as your family and children grow.
1. Pick one night a week and stick to it. For us, it’s Friday night. Both my husband and I work and on Friday we are zonked. We turn off the computers, put the smart phones down, and we just have one night devoted entirely to family. And knowing that work isn’t looming the next day helps us to really focus on us and relax.
2. Have a special bedtime routine for this night. After dinner, instead of allowing our daughter to play a bit before the usual bath, book, bed routine, we whisk her away to a bath, all the while talking about movie night. Once she’s all ready in her PJ’s, we come back downstairs and watch the movie, which often runs after her usual bed time. Some nights she fights to stay away, but others she’s overcome with excitement and is more awake than I am by the end of the movie. And at two, she totally understands this to be something special and out of the ordinary, and gets very excited for, “Movie Time,” as she calls it.
3. Creating a comfy movie watching spot adds to the enjoyment of the night . For our family, while I’m giving my daughter a bath, my husband makes a comfortable floor space by moving the coffee table, and making a cozy spot with all the pillows and blankets he can find. We turn out most of the lights and truly get a movie theater feel. You could even set up a tent in your living room and lay inside with your heads peeking out to glimpse the film.
4. As your children get older, Tracie Nall, mom to eight-year-old Katarina, suggests turning this into a themed movie night. “Peter Pan”, she said, would be easy to do as everyone has their PJ’s on already. Really, though, any kid’s movie can be turned into a dress up night too. All you need is a little imagination. Nall even suggests making felt elfin ears to wear while watching that fun new holiday classic “Elf”.
5. One of the best parts of going out to the movies is to indulge with snacks. This is an easy indulgence that can be duplicated at home. Lacey Valenti, new mom to an almost 2 month old Ace, suggests a great way to accomplish this is to make popcorn together, and not the microwave type, but out of an actual popper with real butter. This can truly make it feel like you are at the movies. To add to that, you can even find old school popcorn holders that can be reused for every movie night you have. Plus, many stores now carry those giant boxes of candy you usually see at movie theaters. Purchase a few of those, at a cheaper price, and you are set.
6. Have the kids take turns picking out the movie. They will be more into it if they have a say. For the younger kids, you can show them three DVD cases and have them pick out the one that intrigues them the most. And for parents, it brings back the innocence of childhood to watch a film through the eyes of a child. Who knows, you could even get your child to watch one of your own favorites from when you were younger.
7. A way to turn this into a date night in for you and that special someone in your life is to turn it into a movie night for you. The mood is already set, and all you have to do is pick out a movie for the two of you to watch. After the kids are in bed, you can snuggle under the covers, and have a romantic evening yourself, that is if you can stay away. Parenting is hard work after all.