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Macaroni Tips: Try a TV-Free Family Night


June 26, 2014

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We all love popping popcorn and settling in to watch a favorite family show. But there’s something special about parent-child activities that don’t revolve around the television. For your next family night, try turning off the tube for an evening of fun, camaraderie and lasting memories. Need some ideas on how to kick back with your crew? Here are some things to do:

FAMILY MEAL
Make dinner your entertainment and get everyone in on the culinary action. Whether you pick your family’s favorite meal or something you’ve never tried before, cooking together as a family unit brings everyone together, lets kids get to know their food and how it all comes together, and keeps everyone occupied away from the couch. Plus, bonus: If you gunk up their hands with a messy job, they’ll be much less likely to reach for their phone or video games! Need ideas? This Ragú® Oven Baked Chicken Parmesan is as easy as it is delicious. Similarly, Hellmann’s® Parmesan Crusted Chicken is an all-time favorite.

PUT ON A SHOW
Play a few rounds of charades, break out the karaoke machine, or stage a talent show where everyone puts on a five-minute act. Don’t worry about the quality of your performance: kids love to see their parents get a little silly, and they’ll get to let loose with their creativity. For added fun, record their performances on your phone or camera for future blush sessions, or to map their improvement along the way.

TELL A STORY
Make an evening out of reading aloud. Instead of waiting until bedtime, plan for an after-dinner reading of a short story or a few funny poems. (Get suggestions from the children’s librarian at your local library or your child’s school librarian.) Make the evening more memorable by dressing in costume and serving themed snacks. Or, if your child shows an interest for writing, craft your own story with them – offering up different suggestions to create your very own choose-your-adventure story.

DE-STRESS FAMILY GAME NIGHT 
Too much competition can spoil Family Game Night. Don’t be afraid to bend the rules of your favorite board games to ease tension. You can also search online for “cooperative board games” that make participating the point, not winning. Those trust-building exercises you may have done at camp and corporate retreats are a good base for riffing off of, especially if you’ve got children who seem to thrive on pestering each other.

STUDY FAMILY HISTORY
Haul out your old photo albums and scrapbooks—not the ones you’ve made of your children, but the ones from your own past. You may be surprised how interested your kids are in your wedding album or your third-grade class photo … and the dated haircuts and clothes are always good for a few laughs. Take your time, answer their questions, and give them a guided tour of your family’s past. They’ll be beaming with pride knowing their roots, and you’ll feel satisfied as well.

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