All too often, school nights pass by in a blur of homework, dinnertime and TV. But it’s important to spend some quality family time together so your children feel relaxed and happy after a long day at school, and prepared for the next day. Try these small ideas that could make a big difference to your weeknights together.
Kids are often hungry when they get home from school, so to avoid any hunger-related tantrums before dinner, let them have a healthy snack. Try fruit kebabs (pieces of grape, apple, strawberry and so on served on small sticks), which are good fun to eat, or freeze tubes of yoghurt or fromage frais to make healthy lollies that feel like a treat but aren’t as sugary as ice cream.
Get homework out of the way
Encourage your children to do any homework before dinner, while they’re still in “school mode”. Then they can relax and have fun after it’s done without it hanging over their heads.
Make sure there’s a good place for them to do it – perhaps on the kitchen table so they can ask you questions while you prepare dinner, or a quiet spot in the living room (TV off!).
It’s better for them to do it in a communal space – if they’re alone in their room, the temptation to daydream or go on their phone will be too much! Plus this means you can ensure they are using the internet safely – and to do research rather than play games or chat to friends.
If they do their homework without a fuss, add a star to their reward chart, which you can tally up at the end of the week. If they’ve earned enough for a treat, you could take them to the cinema to see a film of their choice, or cook their favourite dinner on Saturday night, for example.
For more tips on ensuring homework time goes smoothly, click here.
If they haven’t got too much homework, let them help you out in the kitchen. Depending on their age, they could help stir, chop and time things. Just make sure they are supervised at all times.
Alternatively, after dinner, you could pop some popcorn together – they’ll love the sound of this! – make hot chocolate with squirty cream and marshmallows, bake some easy biscuits, or even whip up this tasty three-minute strawberry ice cream.
You can also get them to help you with the washing up by using Fairy Washing-Up Liquid. They’ll love the bubbles, while you’ll love its grease-cutting power.
Play a game together
Rather than sitting in front of the TV, use that time to have fun as a family. If the weather allows, get outside and play around in the garden. For inspiration, check out our article, No grass stains, no glory: five family garden games.
If not, dust off an old board game and play together. But do let them know the family rule: a point gets taken off for every time someone throws a strop, tries to cheat, or takes sibling rivalry a bit too far…!
Make bath-time fun-time
It’s a necessary part of the day, but bath-time is also a good opportunity to have some fun. Use bubble bath, silly soaps and toys to make it feel more like playtime. Or if your children are older, try candles and music to help them chill out.
How do you make school nights more fun? Let us know your ideas in the comments section below.