Monday night was family night and all week I felt directed to touch on a particular topic, so after dinner was cleaned up and dishes were put away I gathered the troops in the dining room and introduced the theme for the evening with a little song and dance number to this classic ditty:


Family Night occurs weekly at our home. This weekly activity is set aside for a certain night and cleared from all other commitments and activities. It is dedicated to the care and keeping of our family. This is the time we counsel as a family and discuss upcoming events, coordinate schedules, touch on chores and finances, get input for the week’s menu, have an open forum to discuss any struggles or issues anyone needs to discuss, as well as discuss any changes happening in the family.

For example this week we began implementing a new chore/allowance system. We are giving this new system a trial run to see how we like it and see if it is an effective long term system for our family.

Allowance/chore payments is something I have vacillated back and forth on over the years. There is a part of me that feels strongly that chores are simply an element of being part of a family and payment to live in a home. The struggle with this train of thought came as the kids got older and we felt it important to teach our children the importance of money management, of saving, and tithing. They had to have an “income” to learn these money skills and put them to practice. Our solution in the end and the answer we have hung our hat on these last few years is to give the kids a set allowance  weekly that they split into 3 piles: save, spend, tithe, while still expecting a set of chores to be done daily, unconnected to the allowance. There are two income brackets in our home based on age, with the older kids receiving one allowance amount and the younger boys receiving another.

But recent discussions with the older kids made me realize that we have outgrown the old system and need to allow for more independence, accountability, and opportunity for reaping the rewards of effort and hard work, because our current system is a bit socialist in its foundation allowing equal pay for all while some are clearly putting forth a much greater effort. As any failing communist nation can tell you, this system does not lead to ambitious, hard working, self-motivated citizens. Why put forth more effort while your lazy comrade is reaping all the same benefits with none of the sweat.

I also see a desire in my older kids to have opportunities to earn money now that their needs and wants exceed their set allowance. For the kids too young to get a job outside the home this system gives them opportunities to increase their cash flow if they are willing to work for it.

And I won’t lie…it also results in eager and willing workers who are motivated to tackle chores that have fallen to the wayside or that I would love to pawn off on someone else when my days get busy…for a small price.

So here is the system we are going to try out for a while:

  1.  Each child still has set daily chores that they are responsible for every morning. They are the chores they have been doing all along and will continue to do for the simple privilege of living in this house and for being a member of this family.
  2. Allowances will no longer be given.
  3. Instead there will be a set of envelopes put out each week with household chores that need to be done with the payment for that job inside the envelope. The jobs vary in difficulty with simple chores like “replace the TP in the bathrooms” and “windex the bathroom mirrors” to bigger jobs like “cleaning out a closet” or “organizing a bookshelf.” The payment for each job is reflective of the difficulty of the task and range from .25 to $1.00. With $5.00 being paid for an entire room cleaning (ceiling to floor cleaning and picking up).
  4. And each job’s payment is dependent on that job passing Mom’s inspection.

It has been a week and so far the initiative is impressive and my home is cleaner than it has been in a long time. The kids are thrilled and race for the board when new chores are added, and I feel like some of the stresses that have been hanging over my head have lightened. We will see if this new system has “staying power” but so far I’m finding it to be a success.

Then when we are done with the family management portion of Family Night the fun part of the evening begins.

Sometimes we do something seasonal for family night, like go to see Christmas lights or carve pumpkins. Sometimes we do something solely recreational. But most often the evening consists of a lesson, activity, and special treat with family members taking turns being in charge of these different parts of family night.

This past Monday I coordinated my lesson with Rusty who was in charge of our fun family activity. The evening began with my lesson on RESPECT. I chose this topic after noticing a struggle with it in one particular child, but also felt it was a good reminder for ALL of us.


So after my dynamic introduction of the topic, and my killer Aretha Franklin impersonation, (Thank goodness my children were all to stunned by the show to think to pull out their devices and record my performance) we began the lesson with this question:


 The best definition I found was this printout which broke down the basics of respect in an easy to understand way:


This became the foundation of our lesson. We went through each point, discussed what it meant, and talked about how we could strengthen that point in ourselves and in our family. It led to a powerful and much needed discussion that forced all of us to hold up a mirror and reflect on how we can each be more respectful in our own lives.

Our lesson led into the next part of our evening…the activity. The activity that Rusty had prepared allowed us to apply what we had learned about respect, as it was a team challenge that required us to work together, take turns, and listen when someone else spoke. You see we had to work well together or we wouldn’t escape in time. We had 60 minutes.


After a incredible experience at an Escape Room in Kansas City last October we knew we wanted to do it again as a family. Unfortunately the budget doesn’t allow for a family of seven to do this very often so when I saw this Escape Room board game for sale before Christmas I knew it would be a perfect gift for Toby. Last night we played it for the first time and it was killer!

(It really was…Yes, we died.)


The game follows a very similar outline to the Escape Room experiences that are so popular. In the game box were four different escape room challenges of varying difficulty. We chose the escape challenge called “The Virus.” All the envelopes for this challenge were laid out on the table, along with the lock box that had to be unlocked before the count down clock on the box reached 00:00.


The game began with one teammate read the outside of the envelope that told the story behind the challenge and gave the instructions needed to start the challenge. In this case we were scientists in a laboratory working on a secretive and much sought after virus. The flask breaks. We are stuck in the room with the spreading virus and have 60 minutes to figure out the code that unlocks the lock box containing the antidote.


The game began when we pressed the red button,starting the one hour escape timer.


Then we opened the first of three envelopes. Each envelope contained clues, mind benders, and puzzles needed to figure out the first set of four numbers that gave us access to the next envelope of clues.

For added support there were clue cards that were opened when the timer reached set times that helped keep us moving forward in the game.

The board game had the exact same adrenaline filled excitement and team building power as the Escape Room challenge we enjoyed in Kansas City. The games were challenging and well thought out and the entire experience was a lot of fun!


In the end we missed the deadline by minutes, meaning that in the end…


Yes, it seems a bit morbid but it was one of the best family fun nights we have had in a long time,

And I think we all gained a little more R*E*S*P*E*C*T for each other’s problem solving escape room skills!

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