You look forward to the weekend and then find your two longed-for days gobbled up with more relentless routine: mornings spent ferrying your children to back-to-back sports lessons or hours spent standing on the sideline at matches; afternoons dropping and collecting from parties or more activities. By Sunday afternoon all you’ve got to look forward to is an evening of homework and washing school uniforms before the Monday morning rush. And repeat, again and again.
Does this sound horribly familiar?
We’ve come up with some ideas to release you from the weekend rut and make your valuable time together more fun for the whole family.
Why not give them a go?
1. Do the same but different
If you always go swimming on Saturday morning, take the family to a new (and hopefully more exciting) pool for a change. You can find different swimming pools at Poolfinder. If you always go for a walk in your local park, instead arrange to meet friends in an entirely new wood or nature reserve and play an energetic game of Capture the Flag or British Bulldog. In the evening it’s all too easy to find yourselves sharing the same space but all on different screens, so make a change by cuddling up together to watch a new film on ONE screen with bowls of homemade popcorn.
2. Eat around the world
If you’re stuck in a cooking rut (and frankly, when you’re used to dishing up family meals, it’s hard not to be), do something different by involving the whole family in choosing and cooking a dish from a different country every week. You can go methodically from A (for example Australian Anzac biscuits, pavlova, meat pie or simple roast lamb) to Z (Zambian sweetcorn or ‘mealie’ bread and peanut stew) or just take turns each weekend picking the country with the cuisine that most appeals.
The kids can improve their geography and research skills by choosing meals and listing the ingredients before shopping locally or doing an online shop. Then it’s time to cook up a new taste sensation together. You never know, your weekend cooking might become part of a firm favourite in the weekly meal repertoire.
3. Enjoy a nostalgia-fest
Children love hearing stories about their babyhood and early childhood and “when Mum and Dad were young”. Reintroduce your children to places that have a nostalgic pull for you, like your old home or school, or dig out all the old photo albums, videos and photo files and enjoy giggling together and remembering happy times.
4. Play games
You may remember that long-running TV series Why Don’t You (Just Switch Off Your Television Set And Go Out And Do Something Less Boring Instead)? The fact that you were watching a TV programme telling you not to watch it was always a bit confusing, but you get the gist. Decide on a screen-free time when you’re going to play cards, board games or get outdoors and introduce your children to some of the retro games you played as a child. There’s no better way to bond than a game played together, whether indoors or out, with gentle teasing and laughter.
5. Make a family wish-list - and do it
Rather than you dictating how weekends are spent, get your children on board by showing them their ideas count too. Draw up a family wish list and try and do something on it at least one weekend a month. As a starting point ask your kids:
What’s your idea of a perfect day out?
What have you always wanted to do?
What do you wish we did more of in our family?
What did you love doing (visiting, eating, seeing) and want to do again?
6. Go camping
Children love the adventure of camping. Borrow tents and mattresses or invest in all the gear for many future camping breaks. Aim for a campsite that doesn’t frown on making a fire and remember to pack marshmallows to toast (for some reason licking melted sugar off a stick is essential to the experience). If you can’t get away for a night, pitch a tent in your garden.
7. Visit a castle
Take a trip to a castle for a magical day out. Kids love adventuring through castles, whether it’s imagining firing bows from ramparts, being held prisoner in the dark dungeon or swanking around being a proper princess. Warwick Castle is well worth a day out and the National Trust has castles aplenty to choose from.
8. Make something together
It could be something ambitious and exciting like a tree house or water slide, or simply making decorations to liven up your kitchen. With Easter just round the corner, time spent gathered round the table, cutting, colouring and sticking Easter decorations can be a lovely family time.
Whatever you choose to do as a family, try to bring some excitement back into your weekends.