Structuring A Family Day

We’ve been tinkering with getting the kids into a routine that starts on Friday night. I thought I’d share because we are close to the point where everyone looks forward to it.

Friday afternoon – I wrap up all urgent work projects, ideally by mid-afternoon. Some weeks I grab a late-afternoon massage then do my final errands to prepare for the weekend.

Pulling The Plug – I power down my iPhone and computer by 6pm, Friday. This is huge for me.

Family Dinner – I start by having the kids pick out small candles for each person in the house, special relatives and our cats. We have 6-10 candles each week, depending on what’s up. My oldest lights the candles and we share our favorite part of the week with each other.

When we started these dinners (kids are 4, 2 and 7 months), it was chaos but we stuck with it. It took the kids four weeks to get into the new routine and now things run as smoothly as can be expected given their ages. A spin-off benefit was they were really well-behaved at my grandmother’s memorial dinner.

We take the opportunity to discuss any tricky issues that the kids have brought up during the week. Examples are: (a) wanting to destroy another child’s artwork; and (b) how we speak to each other.

Saturday morning – I’m usually first up and relight the candles for everyone to see as they get up. Some weeks I get a window for quiet time by myself.

Monica heads out the door around 8am for her long run. I stay with the kids and start doing the housework. Some weeks I focus outside, other weeks inside. Visible vacuuming is golden for my marriage!

Late morning, Monica takes a kid (or two) goes shopping and I stay at home, still cleaning. She comes back, grabs our oldest and takes her to do something just-the-two-of-them. This time is very valuable to our oldest, who competes for time with her mother.

By lunch time, the house is clean, the groceries are bought and we have a sitter arrive. I head out for my workout (usually a ride).

Monica returns around 2pm, all the kids nap and we get to spend time together.

Evenings are either with friends, each other (date night) or I take one of the kids out to dinner (usually our oldest).

I’m back online late afternoon and can still offer 24-hour turnaround on urgent matters.

Forcing myself to stay offline creates space for the little things that I tell myself I’m too busy to achieve (cleaning, decluttering, taking the kids to the park, reading, organizing).