|An FHE favorite.|
Every Monday night is Family Home Evening (or FHE) at our house, and every Monday night, after the kids are in bed and I am filled with the warm glow of having done something good for our family, I think that I should write a blog post about it. But then I'm also filled with exhaustion, and so I haven't done it yet. And honestly, it's kind of a Mormon thing, and so I'm just a little nervous that you're going to think we're strange. But that's not really you, though, is it?
Our church encourages its members to set aside one night every week to spend with our families. It can be any night of the week, but for convenience, no church meetings or activities are scheduled on Monday nights, which I think is pretty cool. And so at our house, Monday night is family night.
It basically boils down to three basic components, a lesson, an activity and a treat:
- The Lesson: The kids don't have too much of an attention span yet, so we try to keep this part under 10-15 minutes. This is basically a chance to talk to the kids and try to teach them in a vaguely formal setting. We've taught lessons on helping at home, sharing, being kind, listening, how we want our home to be, working together, gratitude, family history, traditions and taking care of our bodies, to name a few. And because our faith is such a big part of our family life, we also teach lessons about faith, prayer, ways we can be like Jesus, the Holy Ghost, General Conference, the beautiful world that we live, and on and on. I'm sure you can see that the two lists aren't mutually exclusive at all. Sometimes the lessons are carefully planned and prepared, sometimes we fly by the seat of our pants (where did that expression come from?!?). Sometimes there are object lessons, like the time we built a lego tower to illustrate that we are all an important part of our family (what happens if you take one block/person away?), and sometimes the lesson is more practical, like working in the yard together and talking about why we do that. Sometimes the kids listen like little angels, and sometimes there are wrestling matches.
- The Activity: If you were to ask Espen, this is the most important part of Family Home Evening. The only real rule here is that we do something, and we all do it together (Espen would add that it has to be something fun). Sometimes our activity is tied to the lesson, like when Espen had to find us while blindfolded when we did our lesson on listening, or when we talked about taking care of our bodies and played soccer. Sometimes we just do something fun together, like go to the library or to the park. Sometimes Mama makes everyone clean up the mudroom. Espen's favorite is when we play a board game or the Wii together. The important thing is just spending time together without other distrations.
- The Treat: This one is fairly self-explanatory - after our lesson and activity, we eat a tasty treat together. Sometimes we might go out for ice cream, sometimes we might bake cookies, and sometimes I might forget to plan something and then we eat marshmallows out of the baking cupboard.
I suppose you might be asking yourself how our kids feel about this. The answer is that for the most part, they absolutely love it, especially Espen. He asks us regularly throughout the week when it's going to be Family Home Evening, and is good at keeping us on track. He loves the activity part, and offers strong opinions on what it should be. Gwen is still young enough that she isn't quite ready to take equal part in everything yet, so we often let her wander back and forth as she chooses. She always shows up for the treat, though!
|Family Home Evening in the canyon.|
This last Monday night we decided to take Family Home Evening on the road and head up into the canyons. For a special treat we stopped by Arby's on the way and got takeout which we ate at the picnic table you can see in the photo above. As we ate, we talked about the things we could see that we liked, and felt grateful for the beautiful world we live in. Then we explored the park, played Pooh-sticks on the bridge over the river and watched the sun set against the mountains. We talked about big, important things and we talked about silly, little things. In the car on the way home, we sang a children's song with the line "I'm glad that I live in this beautiful world Heavenly Father created for me". Our treat was hot chocolate when we got home. It was so simple, but such a great way to spend time together, which I feel like families really, really need these days.
Making the time and wrangling the kids and getting everyone fed and watered in time for family night every week is no small undertaking. We sometimes get grumpy and frustrated as we struggle to get where we need to be. But every Monday night, with my little family gathered together around me, I feel grateful that we're trying our best to put each other first.