Parenting is hard. Having to do it in two to three-hour spans after work is even harder. Weeknights are tough. There’s so much to do in the few hours I have at home.
Quite frankly, I’m almost always running behind or not finishing my to-do list.
Here are a few things I do to survive weeknights and make the most out of my time at home:
Set Up a Weekly Plan
This includes meals, activities, and to-dos. It’s not a set-in-stone schedule, but it gives me a general idea of what I want to accomplish. It saves me time, taking the guesswork out of the nightly routine.
Cook Dinner in Advance
The most hectic moment in our house is dinner. It’s almost bedtime by the time we’re done eating. So, I resolved to make dinner ahead of time. For example, on Sunday, I cook the taco meat we’re eating Monday. It means we eat leftovers most nights, and that’s ok because there’s no rush to get dinner done. I still cook almost every night, but I’m not on a time crunch and I can eat today’s dinner while tomorrow’s pasta boils. And yes, grilled cheese and snack plate nights are in heavy rotation as well. It’s all about survival.
If You Have a Partner, Use Them
Make sure to ask for help when you need it. My husband and I alternate bedtimes; now that the baby is nursing, I take care of the baby, he takes care of our toddler. He helps me put the dishes away and cook, he’s in charge of bath time, and he stays home while I run an extra weeknight errand. Whenever I feel overwhelmed, I make sure to ask for help. A simple “Can you put the dishes away while I get dinner ready?” can be enough to relieve some of my stress.
Spend Time With the Kids
I have to spend some time apart from my kids when I cook, clean, shower, etc. So, I make the most of it by inviting them into what I’m doing. My toddler helps me cook, we eat dinner together and play games or talk about our days, the baby swing is by me wherever I am, etc. I also try to carve some time to spend one on one playing with them, even if it’s just five minutes. Some nights I’m more successful than others, but I try.
Make Some Me Time
Yes. Among the daily to-dos, I completely expect you to find some me-time. I definitely feel it’s imperative to find that something that makes you happy, something that lets you reset your mind and that invigorates you. Maybe it’s reading for 10 minutes a night, one 20 minute workout session a week, two minutes of meditation, or four hours at the spa if you can swing it. Whatever it is, make sure you carve some time for yourself. By taking care of yourself and boosting your energy, you will be better equipped to tackle the weeknight madness.
Adjust the Parenting Guidelines
Let’s face it– there’s no way my kids can sleep 12 or even 10 hours a night when we’re only home from 6 to 6. If I ever want to see them, then their bedtime is a little later than suggested. As long as they’re not falling asleep everywhere and getting some extra hours in on the weekend, I’m fine with it. Also, there’s no way I can hold back drinks before bedtime for my toddler for night time potty training. That would mean she would eat dinner without a drink and go to bed thirsty.
You know what? You have to make the time you have work for your family and adjust accordingly. As long as everybody is healthy and happy, then you’re doing a good job.
Give Yourself Grace
Yep. No matter how much planning you do, life is not perfect. At any given point you will feel you’re failing in some aspect of your life (marriage, parenting, work, self-care, health, etc). Keeping everything balanced is really tough. Make sure you aren’t too hard on yourself. Live by this quote: “You can do anything, but you can’t do everything.” Whatever you do, make sure it’s the best you can do today and that is enough.
Having the right mindset and implementing these techniques helps us survive the weeknight madness. A flexible plan, making time for your priorities and adjusting to each day’s needs, will go a long way to running a smooth household.
What are your techniques for surviving weeknights?
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