Does it sometimes seem as if the family weekend is gone before it even started? All too often, families today so often end up doing chores or shuttling kids to and from activities like soccer or karate on the weekends that they don’t have any time for any downtime together
But with a few small changes in your routines, you can take control of your family weekend activities and carve out time to relax and have fun as a family. Here are some easy ways you can get more family time into your weekends.
- Set Up Great Weekday Routines
One great way to streamline your family weekend time is by making sure your weekday routines are down pat. Once things begin to pile up around the house, you’ll be more likely to spend your time organizing and cleaning at the end of the busy work and school week and more time enjoying the weekend.
Some great ways to keep weekend family time clear include making morning routines smoother and faster and setting up great bedtime rituals.
To combat clutter in your house, Sarah Welch, co-founder of the organization website Buttoned Up, Inc. and a mother of a toddler and preschooler, suggests establishing some daily or weekly routines for staying on top of the mess such as spending a few minutes tackling the pile of mail or putting away toys each night after the kids go to bed. "Cleaning up clutter is a fact of life," says Welch. "So it makes sense that putting a few routines in place during the week to help you deal with the worst culprits of clutter in your house will go a long way to reducing your headache on the weekends."
Think about the ten things you can do every day that can make a difference on how much extra time you have on the weekend, says Welch. For example, keep a sponge under the sink in the bathroom or kitchen and wipe down the surfaces every day. To streamline cooking, think of the ingredients you use most commonly, such as diced onions, and keep containers of prepped ingredients in the fridge.
- Have Kids Help Out with Chores
When kids help out around the house, it can not only free up more weekend time for fun, but it can benefit their development, too. Whether your child is a kindergartener or on the cusp of middle school, there are chores that are right for their age and ability.
When you get kids into the habit early of helping out around the house, it can make it easier in the long run, says Welch. "When kids are in school, they are expected to put things away on their own," says Welch. "They can do this at home." Welch also suggests matching a child’s energy level to the chore to make things go a bit faster and smoother. For instance, if you have a high-energy child, give her a vacuum. If a kid tends to like more quiet activities, let him dust.
Working together as a family can also be a way to have fun, especially if you see it that way. "Many chores, such as washing the car or raking the leaves can be fun," says Jodie Watson, an organization expert and founder and president of Supreme Organization. "Parents can put some music on, and even do some of the chores together with the kids. The attitude of the parents can go a long way."
- Consolidate Your Errands
A great way to save time on the weekends is by running a few errands during the weekday, when you’re out running around anyway, says Watson. "If you need to go to the post office or drop off dry cleaning, try to do that on the way to the ballet lesson or on Monday on the way to work," says Watson.
A big bonus to streamlining your errands to save time: You can also save money on gas (and do your part to reduce your carbon footprint!) when you make as few trips as possible back and forth.
- Cook with Your Kids
If you like to cook or bake, one of the most fun and satisfying things you can do with your kids is work together in the kitchen to create something yummy together. Grade-school age kids can help make everything from pumpkin soup to ravioli.
There are lots of reasons to cook with your kids. They can develop their reading, math, and chemistry skills, as well as a love for healthy, delicious, and nutritional food. And whipping up yummy desserts with your kids can be a great way to spend a lazy weekend afternoon together.
- Think Ahead about Kid Destinations and Activities
You know how tough it can be to scramble to find family weekend activities at the end of a long work week when you’re tired, says Welch. That’s why it’s a smart idea to look up a few different fun family activities at the beginning of the week. Another great time-saving idea: Use the buddy system with other parents. On a given weekend each month, have one set of parents be responsible for finding a fun weekend activity such as hayrides, water park visits, a trip to the zoo, or a hike, just as you would trade off babysitting, says Welch.
Whatever your grade-schooler’s interests, you’re sure to find something that will spark her interest and imagination at a nearby children’s museum. Science museums in particular are a favorite with grade-schoolers, who have an insatiable curiosity about their world and how things work. Today, you can find lots of great kid-friendly museums around the U.S. and the world.
- Get Creative Together
Let your family’s creativity and imagination get top billing by putting on a show written by you and your kids and starring finger puppets. Other ideas for some indoor fun family weekend time -- which can be especially perfect for a rainy weekend -- afternoon include writing and illustrating stories, reading aloud from favorite books, and having a silly songwriting contest.
- Have a Family Movie Night
Whether you decide to watch an old classic kids’ movie or a new movie for kids, getting the family together for a family movie night or an afternoon matinee can be an excellent way to have some family weekend fun.