5 ways for families to make the most of weeknights

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By the time parents get home from work, family evenings can fall into the same old pattern of 'eat, sleep and repeat' – with baths and bedtime stories thrown in.

However, there are ways to make the most of the hours between home time and light's out.

According to Fatherly, here are five things that parents can do to get more quality time with the kids.

1. Look at your weeknight schedule

It's a good idea to prioritise activities and plan meals ahead of time. At the start of each week, sit down with your child and decide which games or events you'll go to, and what food the family feels like. This will free up hours later in the week.

2. Turn off your mobile as soon as you get home

Smart phones are very clever at distracting multi-tasking parents. So as soon as you get home from work, switch off your mobile.

Productivity consultant, Carson Tate says, "Parents are rushing to be with their children, but they're still connected to the office, so they're giving both partial attention and they're not really doing either well. Turn off the tech and focus on your kids. Doing both is not helpful at all."

3. Chill out together

Whether family members have been at child care, school, work or rushing here, there and everywhere, it's natural to feel tired at night. So give in to this and relax together as a family.

Research by the American Sociological Review has found that parents feel better when engaging in activities with their children than without, so set aside regular time to connect and unwind together.

4. Save chores until after your child is in bed

Another idea is to shop online or use late night businesses to get your chores done after kiddo goes to snoozeland.

This means that instead of popping into the supermarket on the way home from work, you're able to get home quickly and enjoy more time with the family. The same can be said for paying bills, folding washing and other tasks that can be tackled after your child's bedtime.

5. Analyse how your day really looks

To get home at a family-friendly hour, think about where time is being wasted in other parts of the day.

Management expert and author, Charles Duhigg recommends looking at the root cause of time pressure. For his family, the delay in choosing morning clothes was making their whole day run late. So, "We came up with a new plan. Now the boys lay out their clothes [the night before] and they put them on right away."

How else can families streamline the mornings to prevent lateness at night?

To get the day off to a timely start, it can help if parents:

  • Pack lunches and set the breakfast table the night before (after your child is in bed)
  • Bathe your child at night, not in the morning
  • Create an organisation station where shoes, bags, keys etc. can be easily found
  • Get up 15-30 minutes before your child
  • Use a morning routine chart
  • Find out about special events ahead of time, e.g. a dress-up day at kindy
  • Work through possible conflicts the night before, e.g. if your child wants to wear runners instead of school shoes

References and further reading:

Raising Children
A Fine Parent

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