Post a large calendar on the refrigerator or somewhere where everyone in the family can see it and find out what's planned for the week. You'll be able to anticipate everything from those insanely hectic days to the not-so-busy ones, and adjust activities that aren't too important. For techie families, sync up your Google calendars or other online scheduling programs too. It's also important to de-clutter and streamline your home. Most of us have too much stuff. By donating clothing, toys and other belongings, you'll create a more peaceful, clean environment and have fewer things to take care of — making family time more plentiful and enjoyable.
Many parents say they spend so much time cooking and cleaning that they don't have much time left for family — especially during the week. Free up some time by only cooking one day a week. We aren't advocating eating out the rest of the time. Instead, select one day a week where you spend several hours preparing and cooking the meals for the entire week ahead. You can freeze meals and then just pop them in the oven or on the stove each day. Check out the Once a Month Mom website that provides monthly menus and seasonal recipes, allowing you to cook just one time a month and then fill your freezer with the meals. Even if you don't cook ahead, there are a number of ways to cut down your time in the kitchen. Take advantage of your slow cooker. You can create just about anything in your Crock-Pot — from soups and casseroles to breads and even desserts.
If possible, try to maximize your family time by working fewer days a week. If your company allows for a four-day work week, take advantage. Don't be hesitant to approach your boss about a flexible schedule. Many companies are open to employees working a day or two a week from home. Telecommuting part time can help to increase the amount of time you have available to spend with family.
Sit down with your spouse and kids to create a family bucket list. Include realistic short-term goals and things that are very inexpensive, as well as activities, events and ideas that are more challenging — such as a vacation you'd need to save up for or an adventurous activity that you'd need to research or learn. After you have your bucket list, start tackling it item by item together as a family.
Pick one day a week and reserve it for family time. Turn off the technology and really enjoy your day together. Instead of simply watching a movie together, do something that encourages interaction and conversation with your kids. For example, you could make every Sunday craft day — making a new craft each week. Look for upcycle crafts and DIY projects that are fun and eco-friendly too. You can also play tourist in your own home town. You'd be surprised by how many free and low-cost family activities are available in most cities. Check out the calendar of events and activities with your local tourism department, the chamber of commerce and the parks and recreation department. From free concerts in the park to local conversation efforts to unique cultural festivals, there are so many places to go and things to do — together as a family.
Instead of heading to the gym or going for your morning run with your mom friends, make fitness time a family affair. Cut down on extracurricular sports for your kids, and instead think of fun ways for the whole family to be physically active together. You can play basketball and other sports against other families in the neighborhood. Play doubles tennis together every week or even train for a marathon together. Everyone needs to get more active anyway, so it's a fabulous idea to stay healthy and fit as a family.
Create new traditions with your family — and not just for Christmas. Establish fun annual traditions for every month of the year. Family traditions create cherished memories, promote bonding and can continue for generations.
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