Why You Need a Weekly Family Movie Night

You know that feeling you get when you’re picking up the kids from school after a long day of work? You know, that blissful feeling of having dinner already planned while the kids excitedly get in the car filled with pure joy? That feeling of utter excitement because you know exactly how the rest of the evening will play out and you can’t wait for it to happen?! No?! That doesn’t happen to you? Well, then you need a family movie night in your routine, my girl, because this pretty much happens to me every Friday night. I get that feeling of sheer happiness because my kids are actually excited about going home which means less bickering; I don’t have to cook dinner as pizza is always part of this Friday tradition; and Mommy is stress-free because the agenda is set for the evening!

Family Movie Night has become our weekly Friday night routine. It’s a makeshift slumber party for my kids that has turned into a wonderful family tradition. The whole family is involved and together. My kids look forward to it all week long. Pizza is always part of the deal, because why not!? And, there’s popcorn, candy, sleeping bags, and just a carefree, fun-filled, relaxing time with everyone. Yes, you read that correctly: fun-free and relaxing in the SAME sentence!

The Dinner Menu

So, as with any typical slumber party, pizza is on the menu for dinner. Honestly, this might be just as exciting as the movie itself for the kids. They get SO excited at the thought of ordering pizza! I mean, you’d think Santa Claus himself rang the doorbell to bring Christmas to the house every Friday night! I’m not going to lie, this is one of my favorite parts of the night as well. Mommy doesn’t have to plan, prep, or cook ANYTHING! It just relieves so much stress and pressure. It’s amazing how different all of our moods are on these evenings compared to the work and school days. When Mommy doesn’t have to cook, everyone seems to be stress-free making this night that much better.

Prepping the Space

Now, we certainly can’t have family movie night in a messy family room. After eating pizza, the kids know that in order to have the movie night, everyone needs to grab their belongings and clean up any rogue toys, school things, clothes, etc. My kids love to just strip everything off walking into the house and across the living room as soon as we get home. There are random shoes, socks, shirts, sweaters, {sigh!}…masks and lanyards, etc. Right after dinner, but before the main event, is a great time for the kids to clean up and get into pajamas while Mommy and Daddy clean the kitchen. I want the living room clutter-free because it’s about to get real messy.

The Equipment

Getting the living room cleaned and clear of clutter allows for the kids to each bring out their sleeping bags and sometimes large Anywhere Chairs. Everyone has special blankets, pillows, and loveys that are needed for a successful and cozy night. Sometimes the kids lie on their sleeping bags while watching the movie, and sometimes they snuggle on the couch with Mommy and Daddy. Either way, most of the time, they fall asleep either during or shortly after the movie turning the room into one giant slumber party. No matter what they prefer, we want them comfy and happy and sometimes that looks different each weekend.

Selecting the Movie

Every Friday night I have several movie trailers queued for the kids to view and vote on. We usually watch 2-3 movie trailers and take a family vote to select the featured film. This can sometimes turn into a debate but voting on movie trailers also pretty much solidifies the following week’s movie – whichever movie lost by a close vote, the kids will accept as next week’s choice. And, even on the rare occasion a kid truly has no interest in watching the winning movie and does get upset, once those opening credits begin, they’re already invested. Just the idea of family movie night is quite the event – missing out on it would never cross their minds.

The Movie Snacks

Of course, any movie night isn’t complete without popcorn! The amount of popcorn we have gone through since starting this tradition is mind-blowing. 5 kids, 2 adults, and 52 Fridays in a year add up to some major bulk ordering from Sam’s. However, we don’t just eat popcorn with our movie. I like to pepper a little something extra on the popcorn. Most of the time, I sprinkle M&M’s in each kids’ popcorn. Sometimes I also add in other surprises like gummy worms, chocolate chips, or leftover candy from an event like Halloween, birthday party, etc. (*Tip: wait until the popcorn is completely cooled off before adding any chocolate. I learned this one the hard way on my beige couches ☹ ). The type or amount of extras I add can also be indicative of a special reward too. Maybe somebody earned good grades that week or one of the kids was student of the week at school. Whatever the accolade may be, the reward is rendered in the popcorn.  Sometimes they know the surprise is coming and sometimes they don’t. It’s definitely a feel-good Mommy moment to present them with popcorn and yummy hidden treasures. Smiles are from ear to ear and life is just so grand in that instant.

It doesn’t matter what happened that week, Family Movie Night has become a constant in our kids’ lives. We never take it away as punishment because these kids need this care-free night as much as we do, regardless of what kind of week they’ve had. It’s become a tradition, not a simple reward. Now, some may earn fewer M&M’s than others or some may lose the privilege of voting (this is a big consequence for my older kids), but the tradition will always go on. One day in the future, I know my Friday nights will look very different as I’ll have 5 teenagers in the house at once probably wanting to go off with friends. So, until then, I will take the greasy pizza fingerprints left on the table, the disheveled sleeping bags and blankets strewn about the family room, and the popcorn kernels scattered on the floor. I so enjoy this night with the family and, what’s more, I enjoy seeing my kids relish in something so pure and simple.

Jennifer Gonzales
Wife to my high school sweetheart, Ross, and mother to 5 children: Trip, Conner, McKenzie, Piper, and Sutton, I am a born and raised Southern Louisiana Lady. I am a graduate of Mt. Carmel Academy, received my Bachelor’s in English with a concentration in Secondary Ed. from LSU followed by my Master’s of Education from UNO, and for the past 15 years, I have been outwitting high school boys as an English teacher at Holy Cross School. When I’m not grading papers, driving to baseball practices, or making grocery runs, I can be found cheering on my LSU Tigers, cutting up with my girlfriends, and attempting DIY projects around the home. I’m all about sippin’ some wine during the sunset while the kiddos play in the yard and the hubby works the grill. I’m living my best mommy life these days and am always happy to share the journey with others!


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