As my five kids have gotten older, I've noticed the world and its activities encroaching more and more on our family time. While we were traveling in Europe, we changed cities every two weeks and had no outside obligations, so our family spent lots of time together. It was great. Our friendships strengthened and we grew closer.
As we prepared to return home, my wife and I decided that we would establish the first and third Saturdays of each month as "Dadurday". A day when the kids and I would block everything else out and just spend time together: no chores, no outside obligations. So far we've watched a movie, played board games, read stories, watched the World Cup, collected coal to try to start a fire, had sword fights, and gone on walking adventures. The kids seem excited about the whole thing and are constantly suggesting activities for the next Dadurday.
The outside has tried to occupy these days, as we suspected it would. I suppose it's a corollary to Parkinson's Law that non-family activities expand to fill all available time. Fortunately, Dadurday was on the calendar first. When other activities try to crowd in, we politely decline and say that we have a previous obligation. Just knowing that these unstructured, playful days with my kids are waiting for me every couple weeks makes me smile.
Of course, my kids have friends and other interests. Most of the time they can be scheduled away from Dadurday, but sometimes there's a conflict. As a family, we decided that each kid gets 3 exemptions per year that let them skip Dadurday if they want to do something else that day. So far three kids have spent four exemptions total, all to attend birthday parties.
Between Dadurday and our family night on Mondays, I suppose that some people would think it's too much time together, but it's a great balance for us.