Oh man, it is the weekend. You love your child but a giant chunk of unscheduled time is stressful and you wonder how you will survive. Will your child whine all weekend? Will you be expected to be their playmate 24/7 and give them all of your attention? You know it is near impossible to take them out in public without losing some of your hair.
You want a weekend where you and your child exist in harmony. They are able to play by themselves and only need some attention from you. They accept rules and limits, and you can even take them out in public without fearing a tantrum. So, how can you achieve this dream?
1: Set A Weekend Schedule For The Family
Having a schedule every weekend can really help both you and your child to avoid having large chunks of downtime where there is nothing to do. This also helps keep your child entertained and out of trouble as they know what to expect. If you can have this schedule mimic their daycare of summer camp schedule. This schedule should have downtime in it and bedtimes can be kept early as children benefit from keeping the same bedtime schedule on weekends as weekdays. Events can be scheduled into the schedule, keeping in mind taking breaks, feeling well-rested for the event, and what to do when kids are overstimulated.
Sample Schedule For Weekends With Kids
TV Show (lets mom and dad sleep in)
Morning walk or outside time
Arts and Craft Time
Movie Time or Reading Time or Room Clean Time
If you are worried about sibling aggression during this time, click here for help.
2: Make Errands Enjoyable For You And Your Child
Oh man, you have an errand to run and you wish you could run it without your child. How can you make this an enjoyable experience for both of you?
One piece of advice is to shop at off-peak times. For grocery stores, this could be late at night or early in the morning. Before entering the store, be sure to tell your child what you expect from them. For many parents, they ask their child to hold their hand, use their inside voice, and use walking feet. Setting expectations ahead of time lets your child know what behavior you are looking for from them.
If you have to run an errand on the weekend and take your child with you, think on how you can make it enjoyable for them. Offer that as a reward if they have good behavior. For example, at the grocery store–could you go down the magazine aisle last or the card aisle? At Target, you could end with doing the books section. Or if there is a pet store nearby the store you are going to–could that be saved for last?
Some parents plan games to play while they go such as Bingo or I Spy. They can count the items you buy, help you check prices, or look for items with you. Many parents assign a task, such as holding the list or grocery bag.
If you are terrified to take your child out in public or are afraid of their public behavior, Parent-Child Interaction Therapy, or PCIT may be right for you.
3: Pass The Baby
Many parents play a game called pass the baby. This involves syncing your schedule and both of you deciding what you need to accomplish for the weekend and how to divide up childcare between you. Maybe one of you wants to go on a run Saturday morning so they take the child Sunday afternoon, and wake up early Sunday morning so the other parent can sleep in. Maybe one of you wants to go get a manicure so you swap the afternoon. It is okay to rotate off as parents with your child every few hours, but be sure to make a schedule and talk through it first.
4: See What Is Fun And Free In Your Area
Many counties are local organizations often have fun and free events in your area. These could be your local farmers market, a story time, a Fall Festival, or a local play group. There are tons of options in many counties that are free.
There are also some membership opportunities that you could ask relatives to gift you for your child’s next birthday or holiday. These could be your local zoo, aquarium, or another place your child loves but costs money. Many parents are beginning to ask for experiences instead of gifts. Helpful ways to ask relatives to do this include asking one relative to tell others, putting no gifts please on the bottom of invitations, sending out a wish list, or telling people directly.
5: Try to Do Chores On Friday
Doing chores on a Friday isn’t always the most fun, but it can alleviate the burden so you can enjoy your weekend without stress or worrying about what needs to get done. This can be a great time to pop on a podcast you have been meaning to listen to, grab some takeout, and enjoy that accomplished feeling that cleaning brings.
If you try all of these, and still struggle with weekend schedules and managing your child’s behavior, it may be time to debate therapy. If you are wondering if you should start therapy for your child or family, click here and here to help you have more information.
If you are looking for individual or family counseling, Mary Willoughby Romm is a licensed professional counselor in the state of Virginia who provides online therapy for Willow Tree Healing Center. She enjoys transforming the lives of women, college students, kids, tweens/teens, and families through providing communication strategies, coping skills that work, allowing a safe space to be heard, and actively working towards helping you with your challenges. She is certified in Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (ages 2-7) and Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, counsels substance abuse in teens and adults, and practices Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy.