Waking up at 7am on a school day is impossible but doable on Saturday? Kids! They are ridiculous!
But you needn’t fear! You can combat their Saturday onslaught with plans of your own.
The goal is always the same: bed by 8pm. This not only helps you with planning things but also for building structure with your kid(s). You can finagle the bed time if you like [earlier in the winter later in the summer] but it should always be in the back of your mind as an ending point.
What works for me my not work for everyone but it’s a general framework that i use to help plan the day. Now remember: you have to crawl first. I suggest one weekend a month completely dedicated to your children, one weekend completely to yourself and the other two weekends split between other things you may have to do (because life happens often and when you least expect it).
On the weekend with your kid(s) you first have to decide what you want to do. You should look for one main event to anchor all the other events you plan for the day. Pick a time frame that works for you and you know is manageable. Don’t plan activities for 8 in the morning if you know you will be one coffee cup away from strangling anyone within a three foot radius.
For me I actually retain joy at setting my alarm, walking into my daughters’ room and shaking them until their eyes to pull open. It’s revenge for the times when I was a young father and they would sneak into my room like ninja before sunrise.
I let the activity we are doing that day guide what time this is. I’ll take you through a typical Saturday to illustrate what I mean:
Anchor: The Circus at Madison Square Garden show time 2pm. show running time 2.5hrs
I’d wake the girls up 8am and we’d fix breakfast. Because our Anchor isn’t until 2 we have some time. Breakfast is a great opportunity to talk with your children. I’d eat with the girls and fit in some cartoon time.
For activities that lie earlier or later in the day this may leave you room for a secondary activity. I call these activities tuts. I plan them as supplementary weekend activities that help break or fill up the day. If my anchor was going to Madison Square Garden to see the circus I would plan a small activity within the vicinity of 33rd street and 7th ave. That means either walking distance or 10 – 20 mins away via mass transportation. I would encourage you try to plan a tut within walking distance; missing a show because of traffic or mass transit delay wastes your money and leaves you with a “kid ether” (see below).
Tut*: Street fair on 29th street and 9th ave. Plan 1 hour before the circus
Tuts are a great way to work in things you may want to check out or activities you may need to do before or after the Anchor. On mixed weekends you may want to go to the post office before you head to the big top. On weekends dedicated strictly to your little one(s) you’d plan something like visiting a street fair/story telling at the library or a trip to the playground. Anchors may often cost you something so I work at balancing paid with free. There is less pressure for your time and allows you to be flexible in emergencies (i.e. “Daddy I made number 2 on myself here on the bus”).
So after breakfast I’d get the girls ready (which ALWAYS takes longer than it should) and we would head to our street fair!
So you planned a great Saturday. You are heading to a nice free event with your kids. You have lunched packed and you know once you get home and finished making dinner they will probably fall into a coma. You’ve made it! No? No! Well not quite. In-between your planned activities is something I like to call “kid either”. What is “kid ether”? Its the gap between what you are doing and what you have planned; train rides, car rides, walks etc. So why even mention this? Because it is all an opportunity at parenting and preoccupying your children with an activity. Remember you are a memory architect and everything you do is creating an experience that will live with your child forever. Do you want to be the dad that was screaming shut up every five minutes on every “fun” activity you take your kids to?
Yes No, of course not. So to avoid being eaten up by the kid ether you need to be prepared. A lot of parents usually have children apps downloaded on their smart device to keep their kids preoccupied. If you haven’t already, download a few because $1.99 is a small price to pay for an obedient 3yr old! Below are some other small activities you can use to fill up the “kid ether”.
- A favorite book. There is almost never a wrong time to read with your little one. Educational, builds a strong bond and it keeps them still!
- Food. A snack will usually keep grown people quiet to fyi.
- Toy. This is always a toss up, literally. Toys usually ends up left behind, in another kid’s eye or actually causing your little one NOT to pay attention to the $50 show you brought them to. Use your better judgement.
- Candy Crush. I don’t know about you but I give this to either one of my girls and I literally disappear. Literally.
- Games. Not to be confused with toys playing small little games with you son or daughter is a great way to bond and pass the time. Count every white car you or every triangle you see. The stupider the better, your kids don’t care.
- Conversation. Seems kind of obvious but just talking about school, what’s going on at school or the Disney movie you both just saw is a great way to fill the ether. FYI: this is an exchange, don’t just listen you respond as well.
So after the circus I would take the girls home to fix dinner. Right now it is about 6pm and after dinner should be hovering around 7/7:30. A bath and a quick game of scrabble and the girls are in bed by 8pm. Boom. Done.
– A Single Dad
Side Note*: These things change with age. As your son or daughter becomes older and more invested in their own lives (yes they will eventually NOT need you to find things to do I promise) your tuts will probably become basketball practice, swim meets, concerts, gymnastics etc. That’s ok, but keep your ANCHOR!!! As you move up in the daddy world they will then become what anchor’s the relationship with your children because they are a consistent events you both look forward to. (The anchor……ANCHORS……see what I did there?)