With most national curriculum and some international schools back to routines (and thankfully for parents in the physical world), parents whose Monday-Friday schedules are now packed with school drop off and pick up times and classes after school hours to coordinate, find themselves scratching their heads about the weekend. From my experience, it ranges from a super active, action packed weekend to a complete relaxation in routines that leads to the Monday morning blues. And especially if you are in a part of India, where the rain gods are active, this becomes a tug-of-war to get to school in a ‘happy’ and relaxed mood on Monday morning.
So what’s ideal?
Well, we are not authoring a fiction book, so the ‘ideal’ itself puts pressure on parents because it feels like there are some ‘goals’ to be met and incase they are not, failure is on the cards.
Well, it isn’t so complicated. For starters, simply treating weekends as some time-off to recharge batteries will help you approach this calmly and without the pressure of expectations.
Here are some tips:
1. If you are a working parent, and have the luxury of a weekend off, make most of it! Sleep in for an extra half an hour, and allow your child to do the same.
2. If possible, have breakfast together with your children and make an effort to make something different with your child (cooking activity) which is not always possible during the busy week. Labour over this one, as it allows you to catch up. Even if you are a WFH parent, schedule your calls later so that the ‘breakfast’ time is about family, conversations. Play some music, lighten the mood and pace yourself so that you are not hurried and your body gets the necessary rest it deserves. And this is what you are telling your child. This could hold true for the lunch and dinner as well. Going out to grab a meal could work for some but the old good fashioned way of doing this at home, also works beautifully especially if it can become a cooking activity.
3. Pack some physical exercise together – could be a swim, or cycling, or a walk or playing a sport together. While I understand the need for classes for some parents as they do not have access to groundspace and kid’s coaches need them on the park, I feel the bonding that happen over the weekend with a sport – just pure fun is essential so factor this in at some time.
4. Watch a movie together, and pick one that everyone can watch. Imagine the discussions that precede this – always a negotiation about which, why etc. Again, great for building that bond with your child. It’s amazing how much you may land up learning about the changing nature of your child’s tastes as they explain why they want to watch that film.
5. Make an effort to organise a playdate for the younger children to build those bonds off school hours. If possible with non school friends, so this broadens the child’s friend circle.
6. Reading should dominate these days more than anything because it one opportunity to extend time which tends to get restricted. They will get their ‘screen-time’ which may be a few hours extra but the trick is to do ‘other’ stuff to reduce their need to ‘watch’ or ‘play’ online. Make distraction your strategy!
7. Schedule a visit to a museum or the zoo, anything outdoor that introduces the children to a new experience and valuable time away from gadgets. Even a simple drive involves music and visiting a new place in the city! It’s not where it is about movement and bonding, remember.
8. Ensure that your children schedule their homework time in a way that is paced over 2 days and not cramming on Sunday night. Also important for your child to organise his/her school gear, tidy up the room themselves, so that they can approach the week ahead knowing they have everything. Run errands with the child including a trip to the supermarket to get the essentials for the snack box!
9. Oversee the school’s requests over the weekend so you are organised and planned yourself and not running early morning to the stores to ‘pick’ something up.
10. Play board games, encourage your child to accept defeat. These are valuable learning experiences!
So my 10 hacks were relatively simple, devoid of fancy experiences, not costly and while some weekends you can plan getaways, the idea is to treat weekends as opportunities to build stronger bonds with your children, spend quality time while sticking to the routines you set, except ofcourse extending some hours here and there but not so much that the child is tired, exhausted and troubled to get to school the next week!