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Designing Relaxing Evenings for You and Your Child

By Brook Noel

After a long day's work many parents look forward to a relaxing evening at home. Yet a parent arrives home only to be bombarded with news broadcasts of their child's events, demands for dinner, housework that needs to be done, homework that needs to be assisted with, baths and teeth to be brushed, laundry to be done, next day events to be organized"the beat goes on.

Evenings can be the enjoyable time you would like for both your children and yourself. Preplanning and sticking to a regular schedule will maximize your time together.

Look at the time you have in the evening and break it up into increments to cover your evening goals. Here is how one parent's schedule looks:

"5:30-6:00 - Pick up kids from Susan's and drive home.

"6:00-6:30 - We all sit in the kitchen for "Happy Hour and talk while one of us prepares dinner.

"6:30-9:00 - A nice sit down dinner. Afterwards I load the dishes and kids start their homework from 7:30-9. While kids work on their homework I catch up on bill-paying, phone calls, permission slips, etc. If they finish early, we play a card game together.

"9:00-9:30 - Kids prepare for the next day while I veg on the couch.

"9:30 - Lights out for kids and I curl up with a book.

As you plan your evening schedule, allot time for the following:

"Your own relaxation

"Time together as a family

"A sit-down dinner when possible (Note: this doesn't mean a full course meal with a representative from all food groups. It simply means everyone's bottom on a chair while chewing through whatever the menu it.

"Whether it be TV dinners, macaroni or cereal is irrelevant)

"One-on-one time with each child (alternate nights if necessary)


"Next day preparations

Keys for Creating Relaxing Evenings:

When you arrive home from work, take a minute to switch gears and change into something more comfort-able.

If homework hassles are giving you a headache, create a work hour. Perhaps after dinner, but before dessert, have one hour devoted to homework. While children work on their homework, take time to catch up on your own reading or paperwork.

Murphy's Law should state "the more you try to relax the more you will think of that which needs to be done." Make a habit of keeping to-do lists in your car, at work and at home. If you think of something that needs to be done, jot it down so it isn't weighing on your mind.

Get moving! Work off the day's stresses and spend some quality time with the kids by moving. Enjoy a physical activity together (outside if possible) like basketball, kickball or climbing a tree. Just 20 minutes outside after a long day can help parents and kids unwind, de-stress and catch up. If the weather won't permit a trip outside, try a quick game of charades (each family member takes one turn) or turn on some music and dance.

Avoid the phone. Let the answering machine pick up the calls at night while you are spending time with your children.

Make a list with your child of ten things you would really like to do together. Aim to do one every other week.

About The Author
Brook Noel is an international, best-selling author and has written over 10 books. Her works include: I Wasn't Ready to Say Goodbye: surviving, coping, and healing after the sudden death of a loved one, Grief Steps, The Single Parent Resource and her newest book The Change Your Life Challenge: A 70 Day Life Makeover Program for Women To learn more about the challenge that thousands of women have used to improve relationships, finances, home management, self-esteem, fitness, self-care, stress and depression you can visit the website at:

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