Reclaiming Family Time

I know I’m not the only mom who feels stress about downtime. I’m not the only mom who feels overbooked, overtired and behind on everything. I know I’m not the only mom that feels like “family time” involves rushed, frantic moments of trying to fit too many things into a short window of time. We aren’t the only family with both parents working. Or even the only family with parents working opposite shifts.

So I KNOW I’m not alone when I say “I need to reclaim the family time!”

Our lives aren’t routine, calm or at all rife with free time. I usually work 10 hour days while frequently needing to do maybe 1-2 hours (max) at home after hours from time to time. Lo (my wife) works nights and weekends – that’s the price we pay for her to be home during the day and to not require child care. It’s not easy but it’s what we have to do, so we do it without complaining too much. But we’ve both acknowledged to each other that it’s getting old. We’re definitely getting tired of the situation and since it won’t change anytime soon, we’d like to make sure we are not falling into a routine of “stressed out and tired” that impacts how we are as a family.

I want to reclaim family dinner.

We all know family dinner is important but it’s not easy (here’s a great link I’m just throwing in for your perusal). I’m not sure we’ve had a dinner together as a family since late November. My wife works nights/weekends. During wrestling season, A had practice 3 nights per week from 6-7:30 pm. Lo would have to feed the boys and herself before leaving the house by 5:45 or so, then I would meet her and the boys at the school at 6:15 pm where she’d usually hand me packed dinner and plastic fork. After practice, we rushed home to get the boys in the bath then move into the routine of jammies, brushing teeth then a book for both kid before bed. (I’ve just recently voiced my 2 cents on sports commitments at a young age)

My wife and I find that we also are slacking on our conversation time. We can get in a little bit of talk during wrestling practice, the 5 minute span between when the kids are in bed and when my wife falls asleep (she probably worked until midnight the night before), or once in awhile a chunk of time together when our schedules both allow.

In the midst of one particular crazy week (last week), it was a chaotic work week for both of us, we had kids’ school activities, family obligations and wrestling practices, I found myself sitting at my desk at work needing to write down a list of the things I needed to talk to Lo about when we had 10 minutes of focused time to chat.

My list:


I want to reclaim family fun activities.

Doing things together (all 4 of us) is difficult. My wife’s job requires weekend shifts, so if we want to a “mystery ride” or something on our Making Memories list, either my wife works a 4 am – 12 pm shift that day or we do things without her. Likewise, she can fit something in on a weekday with them – sans me.
Based on the current situation, this isn’t likely to change anytime soon, but I think we are both ready to at least prioritize better to make the family activities much more doable (even if it means Lo is up since 3 am on those days).

We also used to be diligent about having a weekly “Game Night” It’s been weeks. But just last night, I mentioned “game night” to the boys and they went into high gear, finishing up dinner, putting the iPad aside and rushing upstairs to pick out a game!

We played Perfection for almost an hour!


[Note to self: need to buy the bigger kid version (pictured) – we’ve memorized the 4 yr old version already]

I do believe it’s easy to overbook, to overstress the family out with the commitments, the schedules, the obligations that are all valid and sometimes unavoidable. I am very conscientious about the time that sports are taking and will take (sports post).

And it’s not easy to change any of these things that are piled onto us. However, for me, it’s a change in awareness. When I have times where I see myself sitting down on the computer for something non-work related and the boys are doing nothing but sitting in front of the TV, I’m sure there’s 30 minutes right there we could do something in the “family fun” category.

I’d love to hear from people about their plans and efforts to make family time a priority!

7 thoughts on “Reclaiming Family Time

  1. I totally forgot to mention in my initial post above…that game of Perfection…brings back SO MANY memories. Next to Hungry, Hungry Hippo, it has got to be the game that I LOVED playing the most when I was a kid!

  2. Same boat here. In 2013, Mike and I had 2 dates. That was all..for the entire year. So for that whole year, our alone time consisted of the very sleepy period between our 5 kids falling asleep (inevitably one would end up in our bed and need help falling asleep) and when we would succumb to our own exhaustion. So the important stuff re: bills, taxes, upcoming plans, etc were mostly done via text message. You do this long enough and it wears you down. You get caught up in getting things done and meeting your kids’ needs, deadlines, appointments, practices, lessons, playdates without having the time to stop and actually reconnect as a couple. So…we made some resolutions for 2014, with the first being for Mike and I to make time for the two of us. We hired a babysitter (pretty pricey for 5 kids) and are going on real dates at least 2 times per month. So far, so good.. We love our kids, but we NEED this time just for us, in order to keep us strong for them.

  3. For us, I typically only schedule ONE commitment a weekend beyond our regularly scheduled Saturday morning ballet class. This weekend, my kids have a dentist appointment on Sunday morning. That’s all we’re doing to pre-schedule. This means that Saturday afternoon and Sunday afternoon are ours – not that that means much because by the time the kids eat lunch and nap, it’s already about 3PM. But on a good day, it leaves us time to go to the playground or spend some time in the playroom just doing a whole lotta nothing.

    I know this one commitment a weekend thing won’t last long by the time the kids get into school, but for now, it’s what we do and it has seemed to work!

  4. We need to do this too. My husband has been working a lot of nights and I find myself just working hard to get the kids into bed every evening without even stopping to smell the roses. Also, the husband and I really need to reconnect. So, on a whim, I planned a date night for tomorrow. We rarely do this, as they are expensive, but I need to start investing in us! Good luck to you.

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