Family Movie Night: More than a fun tradition

As you probably noticed if you keep up with my goal posts each month, one of my summer tending list items is the tradition of Family Movie Nights once a week during the summer…. 

We started this last summer and are continuing it this summer. My husband and I used to LOVE going to the movies and now we are really only able to go once or twice a year due to the fact that taking our whole family out to the movies is a crazy expensive endeavor (unless we hit up the budget theatre… which we might start doing more… but even that adds up fast!) So… with our focus on being frugal we usually choose a movie we own that one of the kids hasn’t seen yet, or we hit up Netflix, or we rock the library’s impressive collection of Disney movies.

When I started this tradition, I thought it would just be a fun way to set aside time to watch something all together and eat too much popcorn and pass on some of my favorite movies to my kids. What the nights have become are an amazing opportunity to start discussions that continue for many days or weeks after. This has been particularly true when we watch a Pixar movie. Not only do they have stunning animation and incredible storytelling, the kind of stories they tell help us address very difficult issues with our soon to be kindergartener at an earlier time and in a more accessible way than we might have otherwise.

*Potential spoiler alert for Pixar movies ahead… but all of them are at least old enough to be rented at the library so… yeah… I’d like to take this blog post to especially thank Pixar for the following movie favorites:

Toy Story: I had to start here not only because it was the first Disney/Pixar movie to come out, but because it was such a sweet part of my childhood and is now my son’s current favorite. I love this story because it covers so much- friendship, treating our toys Kindly, jealousy, making things right. My son is super empathetic and already deeply invested in friends and letting others know how much he cares about them so it’s kind of the best to hear him sing “You’ve got a friend in me” on repeat. And, seriously, it HAS had at least a minor impact on how many times he just steps on toys or mindlessly destroys them… He loves Toy Story 2 as well and he is bursting with excitement wanting to see the 4th one as soon as it hits the saver cinemas (because #budgetlife)… but I haven’t worked up the nerve to show him Toy Story 3 yet… mostly because I remember how much anxiety/crying I had while watching it as an adult!
Inside Out: This movie is such a wonderful tool to talk about emotions and emotional regulation. To be honest, I think this one requires a revisit when the kids are a bit older. My son told me at the end of the movie that it was good but there should have been music… As mentioned above though, he’s pretty invested in people and shows qualities of being extra empathic so he’s already pretty in tune with emotions of others, but this movie helped us reinforce vocabulary about self-regulation and how we can let all the emotions have a turn but we don’t want anger to be the one in command all the time and that good choices and bad choices can come out of every emotion… I think the most helpful part of this movie was seeing that the mom and dad had emotions too! And that they are still working on this.
Up and Coco: Both of these have similar themes of following your heart, having adventure, and dealing with loss and death. This is something that has helped us have discussions with our son about the pair of his grandparents that passed away before he was born. It is also an excellent chance to talk about how mommy and daddy cry and feel things too because these movies get my hubby and I every time. (OK, ME every time… my husband at least the first time…)

The most recent watch for us?
Wall-E-: OK, I couldn’t wait to talk to my kids after about being active and taking care of the earth. Plus, robots. in love. Round one of watching this we did not quite make it through… my son was VERY upset when “Wall-E’s friend wouldn’t talk to him anymore!!!” so… we tried again after my tenderhearted one had some time to process and we reminded him that most kids movies have happy endings if you just make it to the end… which is maybe a lesson in and of itself. He liked it at the end and is now deeply concerned every time he sees trash on the street that we are going to end up with buildings of trash like in the movie… I guess at the very least he’s learned not to litter!

I have a TON of nerdy classics I can’t wait to show when the kids get a little older, but we are pretty committed to letting them be little and not exposing them to too much violence too fast… something the nerdy favorites definitely seem to have in common that we aren’t quite ready for… but I’m looking forward to more talks about the stories we watch and why- whether that be on film, on stage, or in books. I’m thankful for storytelling done in a way that fosters these kids of conversations!

be right back… have to go cry again… was especially proud when my kids recognized the main theme from this movie as my ringtone for their dad.

What are your favorite movies that you’ve shared with your children or a special kid in your life? Or what are you looking forward to sharing when they are old enough?

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