If you’re anything like my best friend’s family, you’re constantly on the go. With two working parents and three active kids, they seem to be running all the time! My friend and her husband are each responsible for dropping off a kid or two at school on their respective drives into work, then the late afternoons are a hustle and bustle of picking up the two younger ones at after school care, getting them all fed, shuttling them to their various evening activities, helping them with homework, urging them to hurry with their baths, reading stories, and tucking in. Then they do it all over again the next day!
Since I work from home, our days are not quite as busy. We’ve also made a few changes in the way we’ve handled our evenings to cut down on all of that rushing around. I have to say that in the past year or two since we’ve slowed down, we’re all enjoying more family time and unstructured “hanging out.” Are you wishing that you could scale back and enjoy your evenings more, while cutting back on feelings of being overwhelmed and stressed out? Consider some of these tips:
- Put It in Writing
I know that I function much better with a list. In my younger years, I was able to keep track of every appointment and plan in my head, but as the kids have gotten older and busier, that’s almost impossible. Get a good planner or a big wall calendar, and make everyone use it! Assign each person a different color pen and have them record everything, from weekly soccer games and music lessons, to field trips and sleepovers. This will not only drastically reduce that panicked, “what am I forgetting?” feeling, but also gives you a visual aid to help you determine if your schedule is too packed.
- Think About Cutbacks
None of us wants to tell our kids that they have to give up a treasured activity, but family is an obligation that you want your children to take as seriously as they take their karate classes, dance lessons, tutoring sessions, Cub Scout meetings and play rehearsal. If you’re out almost every weeknight, something has got to give. In our house, each child is allowed one evening activity per week. This means that the other three weeknights, we’re home relaxing and eating dinner together. Your comfort level may allow more or less outside commitment; take a look at your lifestyle and if you’re not happy, make changes!
- Make Time in Other Ways
You may simply have accepted the fact that weeknight evenings are busy for your family. That’s fine, if it works for you! Find other times to connect as a family, though. Maybe every Saturday morning, you could enjoy brunch together, then head to the grocery store as a family. Or you could let the kids stay up an extra hour or two on the weekends, and fill that time with family fun, such as movies and games. Perhaps Sunday afternoons can be spent whipping the house into shape and preparing for a picnic dinner on your patio or at a local park. Brainstorm together and find a solution that works for everyone.
All families function in a unique way, and what works for you might be very different from what works for me. I know that I could not keep up my aforementioned friend’s schedule for more than a week without going crazy, but she feels that her family would be bored if they didn’t have all of the activities. Different strokes for different folks! Just remember that nothing is set in stone, and that you have both the right and the responsibility to make changes if you deem it necessary for your family.
How have you streamlined your family’s schedule?