Whether you work outside the house or stay at home full-time, the toughest part of the day is the same: those frantic early evening hours when there are mouths to feed, homework to do, and cranky kids to handle. The trick is to streamline your to-do’s so you can feel calmer and focus on what counts spending time with your family. Here’s how to create a calmer evening for yourself.
5 Steps for a Calmer Evening
Ease Into the Evening
Instead of walking in the door after work or errands and immediately launching into another chore, allow time and space to downshift into evening mode. It’s basically about transitioning. In other words, giving yourself and your family that unwind time. Creating a calming ambiance, by turning off the TV and playing soothing classical, can reset the tone of the house. You can also dim the lights and light a few candles it makes a cozy atmosphere that will relax the family. Another transition idea is to create a ritual. Set vegetables and dip or cheese and bread on the counter and serve juice or water in fancy wine goblets.
Create a Dinner System
Rushing to get dinner on the table is a major source of evening mayhem, but a little bit of preplanning can help you power through with a minimum of stress. Use weekends to chart out your nightly dinners, grocery shop, and even preassemble parts of a meal when possible. Consider writing a weekly plan and checking the calendar to see which nights are going to be particularly busy–so you know when frozen pizzas or easy-prep meals are a must.
Keep the Kids Busy
All the shortcuts in the world won’t help if you’re constantly being interrupted, so a little creativity may be needed to get the kids out from underfoot. Make the time you cook be about you and let your older kids know that you are there only to be asked a very important question. Other than that, you are off limits. For younger children, it might be necessary to involve them in the meal preparation. When my son was younger I used to put him in his highchair and talk in an animated way. Now that he’s older, he helps put ingredients in bowls and pots and stirs just about everything!
Plan Homework Time
To avoid last-minute cries of “Mom, I haven’t done my homework yet,” having a homework routine is a must. After the kids have had a healthy snack they should begin their homework so that it is completed before dinner.
Share the Work… and a Break
Dividing tasks between you and your partner can make family time more serene for both of you. When your husband walks in the door, it’s his turn to take the baby for 30 minutes. Then, after 30 mins, you take the baby back and your partner has 30 minutes to change and unwind. This way you’ll both be refreshed enough to start your evening together. Be flexible with that. All in all, evenings can be calm if routines and decisions are set ahead of time. Decide what you and your partner truly value and then set up some systems to make it work.