The Relief Society is noted for its emphasis on sisterly bonding. They organize Enrichment activities; service projects; visiting teaching; and often impromptu neighborhood networks of moms, grandmothers, or single sisters to help them build relationships. So what about the men? Their bonding stereotypically takes place more on the basketball court or golf green than it does over a quilting frame or visiting teaching couch, but, nonetheless, men do need to form friendly relationships, too.
To follow is an activity plan designed to help you do just that.
This activity will have the men rotating between three different stations (see the following sections), set up in different rooms.
Each station should last about twenty-five minutes so that the entire night, including a brief welcome, will be done in an about an hour and a half.
Dinner by Dad Station
For this station, find someone who can lead the men through preparation of a simple meal that Dad can make in less than twenty or thirty minutes. Send Dad home with a packet of some of these easy recipes, and be sure to include how long each takes to complete.
An alteration on this station could be a bit more in-depth lesson on cooking a specific gourmet meal for a date night with Mom. Invite a chef or good cook in your ward to do a Food Network-style presentation on how to prepare a delicious meal for two, and let the class practice food preparation techniques. Send them home with the recipes and any helpful instructions.
Childcare: Beginner through Advanced Station
This station might best be divided up into two groups: One group would focus on teenagers, and the second group would focus on younger children.
If you don’t have someone like a psychologist or childcare expert in your ward, there are many books on the market from which someone could prepare a class. One great one is The Potentially Sane Mother’s Guide to Raising Young Children by Tamara A. Fackrell. This book provides a lot of real-life advice and includes many topics around which a lesson could be focused, such as providing choices and consequences, teaching the gospel to young children, and getting along with siblings.
Have the dads role play various situations and let them ask questions to get input from how the other dads deal with problems.
If you have several new, first-time dads in your ward, you could also include a lesson on basic skills such as diapering, bathing, holding, feeding/burping, taking a temperature, car seat installation, immunizations, and soothing a baby.
Parenting teenagers can sometimes be a topic only the bravest are willing to face. Again, this station is a great opportunity to role-play situations in which parents of teens often find themselves. For example, you could try out some of these scenarios: “I want to date and I’m not sixteen,” “But I need a car,” “I just don’t measure up—all my friends are bigger/smarter/prettier than I am,” “You never listen to me,” etc.
Let the dads brainstorm helps and solutions together and discuss problems they have come up against or ones they’re dreading might arise. Cleaning Tips and Tools of the Trade Station
If you introduce money-saving or time-saving tips (of almost any variety) to a guy, chances are you’ll at least get his attention.
Show the men how to save a few pennies by using low-cost, homemade cleaners instead of the more expensive (and sometimes unhealthy) cleaners on store shelves.
Let them know that you don’t necessarily need a different cleaner for the kitchen counters, bathtub, stovetop, and toilet. A good all-purpose cleaner can do the trick, or you can also use items you probably already have in your pantry such as baking soda and vinegar.
Another sure hit with dads would be giving them tips for getting chores done quicker. Show dads how to put together their own “cleaning tool belt.” Just take a regular, inexpensive tool belt (or something similar that can be worn around the waist) and demonstrate how it can be filled with a dust rag, an all-purpose cleaner, a sponge with an abrasive side, a drying towel, etc.
Tell the dads that with their tool belt in tow they can go from room to room with all of the necessary supplies, without having to go back and forth to find the right cleaner. Also, let them know about the tried-and-true trick of spraying down surfaces with cleaning solution, then going to another room to clean up, then returning to the first room where the cleaning solution has had time to work through some of the grime without your help. All dads (and moms, too, of course) like to be able to save some of their elbow grease if it’s not needed!