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The power of play — why you should make time for family game night

Technological distractions, busy schedules and the general hustle and bustle of life can make spending quality time together difficult for families. Some weeks in our house feel like a blur of soccer practices, homework, meal prep and afterschool activities. Inevitably, these stretches of time can leave our families feeling disconnected and more like roommates than relatives.

One of the best and most fun ways we have found to reconnect is through a family game night. My husband and I come from families who enjoy playing games. My family’s games of choice were double-six dominoes and Yathzee. For his family, it was the card game Hand and Foot.

In our nine years of parenthood, we have collected a variety of games, but I’d like to share a few that we find ourselves reaching for most often:

  • Tried-and-true favorites include Chutes and Ladders, Trouble and Candyland. Our youngest son, who is 5, is particularly fond of these because the simplicity makes them accessible for younger players.
  • Games that appeal to our eldest, who is almost 9, include Exploding Kittens and Uno. Both of these are a bit too fast-paced for our youngest to play alone, but he enjoys playing alongside one of the adults. This dynamic works well to include everyone while still allowing us to play more challenging games.
  • Mousetrap remains a favorite for both of our boys because of the fun mechanics of the game board. Everyone loves a good round of mousetrap — except, maybe, the adults who need the patience and energy to set the game all up each time.
  • We recently discovered two new games that are not as traditional but a lot of fun. The first is Zingo!, which combines the gameplay of bingo with components of early literacy and hand-eye coordination that make it fun to play with both boys. The second is Catan Junior, a kid version of the adult game Settlers of Catan. This game is complex enough to keep our eldest son interested, while the play is slow enough for our youngest to join us (with some friendly parental advice along the way).

Whatever game we choose, a night of family play never fails to get us laughing, talking and engaging with one another. We readily welcome opportunities to teach sportsmanship, integrity, empathy and teamwork. Overall, these nights (or weekend afternoons) are some of my favorite times to share with my family.

Written by Kelsie Dove

Kelsie Dove is an English teacher at Gulfport High School and a founding
contributor for Gulf Coast Mom. She can be reached at

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