Work, school, activities, homework, dinner...weekday evenings are often a carefully crafted schedule of coming and going. This can make it really hard to enjoy your evening and your family. While we can't add hours to the day, we can capitalize on the time we do have and create a pleasant and soothing experience in the evenings. Here are some tips to help make the time less stressful and more enjoyable.
- Cut out the technology. Pick a time in the early evening as an "electronics curfew." Put down phones and turn off the tv and tablets. You'll feel more connected as a family and more focused on what needs to get done. It may take some time for your family to adjust (especially those with older kids), but they will, and you'll all enjoy the quality time.
- Organize ALL the stuff! We know that having organization systems with kids can be quite challenging. At the end of the day, when everyone is tired, hungry, and just happy to be home, simple systems help. Try having a dump zone where your kids can unload all of their belonging in one spot. You could use hooks for coats, baskets for shoes, and bins for school work. The key is to use simple and easy forms of organization that are easy for kids to follow and simple for you to reorganize when they don't follow it. When the clutter and piles are centrally located and somewhat systematized, you will feel better and less stressed.
- Bust out your crockpot! Use a meal service like What A Crock Meals To Go for easy dinners. What a Crock offers multiple meal delivery options that you can customize to your family's tastes. There are plenty of meal kits out there, but those still take time and prep work. When you order from What a Crock, you place a meal in your slow cooker in the morning, and you'll have a delicious dinner by evening. No more wasting money on unhealthy foods by driving through the drive-thru between sports games!
- Create quick, easy bedtime routines - for EVERYONE! We often associate bedtime routines with babies and little kids, but everyone can benefit from a soothing and calming routine. It can start with dimming the lights and doing quiet activities, together or separately, to wind down from the day (drawing, reading, or legos, for example.) Then create a routine that can be followed every night that involves washing up, brushing teeth, and getting comfy in bed. Some kids may benefit from a physical list they can follow each night.
- Make time to connect. In the hustle and bustle of the weekday chaos, we often go into autopilot. This can help get things done, but we also may miss out on some good opportunities to connect with our families. An easy way to connect with each family member is to make it part of the bedtime routines. Parents can take turns doing bedtime with each kid and have a couple of easy questions to check in with each other. 5 minutes of one on one time can make a significant impact on family dynamics.
None of these tips will fix the craziness of family evenings. We hope you'll find one or two that will help your family enjoy their evenings just a little bit more.