A typical day for my family includes full-time work for dad, part-time work for mom, gymnastics classes for all three girls, moms morning out for my toddler, elementary school for my older daughters, Girl Scout meetings, homework, cooking, cleaning and (very occasionally) sleep. Whew. So where can we make time for our family with busy schedules all around?
1. Family breakfasts are a great alternative to a family dinner when school events and activities seem to get in the way. Don't just grab a banana and run out the door. Set everyone's alarm clock ten minutes earlier and sit down at the table and start the day as a family.
2. Game nights are popular choice for busy families. Don't restrict yours to night or weekends. Select a weekday afternoon when everyone can clear their schedules, for instance, and order pizza as a special early dinner treat.
3. Do your homework together. Don't let the kids walk in the door and head their separate ways-eat a snack together and make everyone sit at the table, give the highlights of their day, and start their homework together. You're there if they need you, and you're all together.
4. Don't split up. Often, my husband and I employ the divide and conquer parenting tactic in order to manage our busy schedules. When you don't have to do it, don't. We love all going to my oldest daughter's gymnastics class, watching, and spending time to and from practice together in the car.
5. Take the kids shopping with you. It's often easier for me to dash to the store for groceries after the kids are asleep or to pick up that pair of sneakers when I'm at the mall alone. Taking the kids (and my husband) along might make the trip longer, but it can end up as great family time.
6. Take a sick day together. Don't make it a habit, but there's nothing quite as fun as an unexpected family day. Make sure the kids' school schedules are clear and work will survive without you, and head out (or stay in!) together as a family. Surprise the kids with the day off!
7. Cook (or clean) together. Make chores a family affair, instead of work. Who gets to make dinner with mom? Who can help dad make the dessert? Ask your daughter to sit with you and fold laundry, and use that time to talk about her day.
8. Watch a television show together. Find an old game show or Dad's favorite cartoon. Make a bowl of popcorn and enjoy it together. Don't scatter when a show comes on-if you're watching, use it as an opportunity for togetherness.
9. Go for a walk after dinner. My grandparents used to go for a walk every night after dinner. They'd walk around the block, down the street, or to the grocery store for an ice cream cone. They'd walk as far as time would allow. Grab your kids and do the same. Simultaneously get in some exercise and some family time!
10. Go tech-free. Creating tech-free hours (5-6pm every evening, for instance) is a great way to force a little family time. You'd be surprised how much more communicating your family will do when they can't text one another with a question or otherwise connect with the outside world.
Your family is busy-think outside the box to create small little niches of family time whenever and wherever you can!Content by Kelly Herdrich.