NEXT GEN: Ten Ways to Make More Time for Your Kids

By Katy Abel | Sep 03, 2014

The Frenzied Family

As you head into the back-to-school year, you wonder: Can you really do it again? Pack lunches at dawn, dash from carpools to business meetings, apply mascara at stoplights, help with homework, race to piano lesson pickups, weekend of hockey practice, soccer games and birthday parties?

Determined to put the focus on family, a group of moms and dads in Minnesota has organized a community group, Family Life First. Its mission: To get all the folks in Wayzata, Minnesota, to rethink their hyperactive lifestyles. Try the group's 10 hints on avoiding a frantic fall.

1. Limit Kids' Activities
Just say no to overscheduling. Limit your kids to one afterschool activity. Period. This may be harder for some parents than kids to consider.

2. Limit Yourself
As a parent, you too have your limits. Basically, you get one evening out during the week. Period. Mom has a book club or a yoga class. Dad's playing squash. Simply put, you can't "be there" for kids when you're not around.

3. Kill the TV
Or at least dismember it. Members of Family Life First tell us they turn off the TV during meals. The result, not surprisingly, is better table talk and a less circus-like atmosphere at dinner. Sitting down to watch a particular show or video can be a great way for families to relax together, but having the tube on in the background just adds another level of noise and stress. Or consider this: No TV Monday through Thursday nights. More time for homework, reading, talking, playing.

4. Candlelight Dinners
Hats off to Bugs Peterschmidt of Family Life First for this excellent idea. They agreed on a 6:15 p.m. standing mealtime, and Dad went in extra early each morning to make it work. The couple decided to light candles each night for its "calming effect." House rules while the tapers flicker: no discipline issues are discussed and no phones get answered.

5. Brunch!
Make brunch for your bunch every Sunday.

6. A Reading Tree
Make a "Reading Tree." Find a tree in your backyard or local park; claim it as your own. Bring a book and a blanket, and make it a regular spot for story time. A great way to savor fall foliage or the warm breeze of an Indian summer night.

7. Cook Double
Cook double, and save time and trouble. Double every recipe and freeze half for another night. Makes mealtimes a snap.

8. Pick Your Own
Go apple-picking with your family (or any fruit or veggie, for that matter)! If you've got kids of different ages and temperaments, it's sometimes hard to find a movie everyone wants to see, or a game everyone has the skills to play.

9. Catch Some Winks
Get some sleep! Lights out by 10 p.m. When you feel rested, you feel calm. Period. So pay bills in the morning, and turn on the radio to catch the news you missed from the night before.

10. TGIF Fun Night
Friday night is one of the best times to focus on family. Let kids take turns each week setting the agenda: Video? Monopoly? Scavenger hunt for loose change? In the 21st century, home and family is our fortress, our best protection from the onslaught of the 24/7 world.

Source: Family Education

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