Family Night

"Sometimes you have to go back to boot camp."  My friends words were spoken with a laugh, but the truth of them rang in my ears. 

She was speaking about her children.  About their tendency to drift from the family's boundaries and push the envelope.  About the need to come back to basics and remind children what we do, what we don't do, and why.  We love each other.  We speak kindly to each other.  We use our manners.  We don't eat things that come from our nose.  The real basics. 

That's boot camp.  And we just had one of those seasons in our house.

I felt it coming on for a while.  With a move to a new city this summer, there was just so much that was new and different that it was easy to lose sight of those basics.  Except my kids are old enough not to need the nose talk.  It was basics of a different sort, and it was probably more for the parents than the kids.

Because if you're not diligent, not careful to guard the state of your flock, you can look up and realize that all the things you put in place when your kids were young to help them grow spiritually and emotionally have slipped into the busyness of the details of life.

And the protective boundaries you had set to guard your family from the parasites that eat away at the health of your relationships have given way to too much technology, too much noise, and just too much.

So, it was time to go back to boot camp.  And for us, that meant reinstating family night.  A sacred weekly tradition we had held for many years, but had slowly let fade to monthly and then occasionally and then we can't remember when.

But, it's back, and it's back so good.  It's not fancy.  It's not complicated.  It's not overly spiritual.  It's just time together that is absolutely set in stone and doesn't get moved by anything on mom's schedule, dad's schedule, or the school's schedule.  Everyone in the house has been informed that this is going to happen, and anything that needs to be planned for in advance or changed or moved or deleted in order for it to happen, that better happen, too.

There may have been some expectation on the parents' end that this proclamation would be met with some resistance, but it wasn't.  We are three months in to family night boot camp and haven't missed a single week.  Every one of our teenagers have made the shift, and now Fridays may be my favorite day, but Tuesday is my favorite night.

Tuesday night is tacos around the table.  It's a new board game.  It's a walk to our favorite custard shop.  It's jammies and s'mores on the back patio.  It's watching a food network show while we eat frozen pizza.  It's a round of charades or hide and seek in the dark.  It's a bike ride. 

It's just time. 

Whatever it takes to have time to look each other in the eye and laugh and remember why we are each other's best friends.

Three months in, and this is by far the best boot camp this family has ever had.  Especially since we haven't had a single nose discussion.