I set out to tackle this problem, because I really believe in the importance of establishing the habit of family night.
This is what I came up with:
Now our family home evenings go about like this:
- Sing a hymn that goes along with the lesson. Cam plays the piano, we both sing.
- We switch off who says the opening prayer.
- We go over finances. I have a little printout in my wallet that has our budget outline in it. Every time I pay a bill or make a purchase, I record the amount in the budget. That way, every Monday it takes me about 5 minutes to calculate how much we have left in each budget. We talk about upcoming expenses, things we'd like to use the miscellaneous budget for, and potential date ideas.
- We check in with each other on how we're doing spiritually. How are our family prayers? Personal prayers? What are we studying in the scriptures personally? As a family? Are we happy with how family scripture study is going? etc. We also set a goal together that we want to work on the next week.
- We talk about our relationship. We start off with 3 compliments and an itch. The nice thing is that after you've given 3 sincere compliments to the other person, it's pretty hard to come up with an "itch". BUT, if there is ever something we really need to talk about, this is an easy way to get it out in the open. And then we do 3-minute massages. (Honestly, these normally wait until right before bedtime, but sometimes we sit on opposite ends of the couch and do foot rubs.) I strongly believe that physical touch is an essential part of feeling like you're "on the same page." It's really hard to be annoyed with each other if you're touching, and good feelings between spouses invites the spirit into our home. We also go over current stressors. If I don't know what is stressing Cam out, I can't help relieve that stress and vice versa. Also, a sure-fire way to increase the love you feel for your spouse or your spouse feels for you is to get rid of whatever it is that is setting off red flags in his or her mind.
- The last part of the paper is a week-at-a-glance calendar. There's VERY little space here, for a reason. This is where we make sure we're both planning on the same things for the upcoming week. It has virtually eliminated any freak outs caused by "You didn't TELL me you were working overtime tonight." And, "No. My work party is tonight. We have to be there at 6. You'll have to cancel with so-and-so." We outline major events in the upcoming week.
- We have a lesson. (Cam and I switch off who gives it).
- We have an activity. (This is anything from organizing the nursery to going on a walk to going to concert to playing a card game etc.)
- We have a treat. (And a closing prayer)
For a while this paper was posted on our fridge for the week, but since we've tried it for almost 2 months now, we've decided to save some paper because it has worked beautifully. I plopped mine in a frame and we use a dry-erase marker to fill it out every week. It sits on our end table next to the couch where we will see it all the time. Here's what it looks like all filled out: (This was last week's)
Every time someone has asked about it, they inevitably ask how long it takes to get through. 15 minutes tops. 10 minute lesson, and then a treat means family night is still about a half hour long, but we are so on the same page and prepared for the week, the difference is incredible.
And we feel like we're on the same team.
I think that's worth every second.