life Parenting

Weekend Improvement Plan, Continued

September 21, 2022

Thank your your MANY wise and varied tips.

It’s so interesting – parenting can be like whack-a-mole. Just when you get one piece figured out (or mostly figured out), another pain point pops up.

A “perfect” family life is never going to be achievable (at least not at our house!).

But “better”? Yes. I believe we’ve gotten to “better” with a lot of aspects over the years. It takes time, creativity, and energy — more than I feel like expending sometimes. But it is worth it.

Our current bedtime routine proves this to me. Mornings too! Both were messes. Now they aren’t. It took some thought, effort, and trial and error. But this was all 100% worth it in the end!

In doing a lot of reflection, honestly — I think we got really really lazy about screens on weekends. It was soooo alluring to have a few solid HOURS of reading time or non parenting time or whatever. Almost magical! But it did come at a cost. Not trying to be melodramatic but . . . I think my kids (some of them more than others) are not best served by staring at stimulating games for hours on end.

I’m going to talk to the kids about it this weekend. We are going to come up with some much lower limits and plans for an ‘off ramp’ to avoid the horrible post-iPad behavior crashes. Josh and I will have to give each other breaks if we need breaks (on his non-call weekends) and do more dividing + conquering. And yes, play dates + social time for the win! It’s not always achievable but when it works, it’s fantastic.

PS: the timing of this post in mid-September is not coincidental. I know that going outside helps so much. BUT this is still our off-season and it always drags at this point (because the end of the humidity is not near!). Still, it’s not like we live in Death Valley. We will deal.

This weekend Josh is on call.

Planning on:

  • getting up early to get my workouts in so that I will feel like I got to do something *for me* each day
  • outings both days – first, the library (open 10-6 Saturday!). Then probably science museum one day because our membership expires in a week, and Urban Air the other. Normally Saturday AM is taken up by gymnastics (all 3) but sadly there’s a meet or something so not this Sat.
  • inviting our neighbors over (kids A&C’s age sadly no G equivalent)
  • discussing with the kids our plans for afternoon – working on at least trying a short stint of ‘relax on your own without screen’ time
  • movie night saturday night (newish movie recs welcome! Luck?)
  • bedtime 30 minutes after the usual time but not super late

Will report back. And refer to your comments.

PS: newest fun planning tool (that sort of relates to this post – or time use in general):

Time tracker / study planner! Jetpens, $5.50 for >60 days of this cool layout! Paper is decent too!


  • Reply Lisa of Lisa's Yarns September 21, 2022 at 1:59 pm

    Your plan for the coming weekend sounds great! I hope it’s a better weekend for all. We do a ton of ‘divide and conquer’ in our house on the weekends. Neither of us has to work on the weekend except for maybe a few hours here and there, but it’s not recurrent/common. So that helps! I feel like I’ve kind of ‘lazy geniused’ our weekends but I will need a new plan come Nov/Dec when it’s cold outside. And then the way you feel now is how I will feel in Feb/Mar. The tail end of unpleasant weather seasons is really fatiguing and makes things feel even harder, so I’m sure that’s a contributing factor, too! I’m planning to ask for a membership to something indoors for one of the kids for Christmas so we have something besides the zoo to go to in the winter. Our zoo has some indoor exhibits so I figure we can go there once/month but having another option would be great. I also need to check out our indoor playgrounds. That would be a 2 parent outing, though, because the toddler needs constant surveillance so it would be hard to monitor both boys, especially since they would probably be on different kinds of play equipment. But this post is reminding me to start to think about a winter plan so we stay sane!!

    I’ve also had to recognize that weekends are not what they used to be… they used to be a time to recharge my battery but that isn’t the case these days. They really deplete me since the toddler is a lot of work and doesn’t nap much so we don’t get that much of a break… I can see it will get easier but it’s still very different from weekends in my pre-kid life. My husband and I will jokingly say, “gee, I can’t wait to go back to work on Monday and relax.” Our jobs are challenging, but I’m challenged in a different, less depleting way.

  • Reply Grateful Kae September 21, 2022 at 3:31 pm

    Have you guys ever considered getting a family gym membership? Not sure what you have near you, but I’m talking like a YMCA type place. We have a huge local gym nearby, and it is PACKED with families on the weekends. The kids can shoot hoops, go swimming, they have open gym for the kids, run on the track with a parent, play around on the racquetball courts and so much more. Our old gym, from when the kids were little, was a life saver for me. I took my boys there every single day to the gym daycare and worked out and showered in peace. Some days I just went and sat in the hot tub or sauna. LOL. I wonder if something like this could be a fun option for your family for the yucky seasons! (Could put G in the free daycare and let the big kids play around while you sit on the floor and read on your phone nearby or whatever, too. 😉 Once kids are 11-12 at our gym, they can have free range to be unsupervised so long as the parent is somewhere in the building, too! It’s highly popular here for bigger kids to meet up and play/ hang out at the gym together.

    • Reply Sara September 21, 2022 at 9:14 pm

      I love this idea! Yet another thing I had kind of forgotten existed since we’ve been avoiding lots of indoor stuff with the pandemic, but it might be time to try this out for my very energetic boys 🙂

  • Reply Jessica September 21, 2022 at 4:00 pm

    Could you get a sitter for a few hours of Josh call weekends? That way you still get some time off.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger September 21, 2022 at 4:36 pm

      I have thought about it but I don’t really feel like I need or want it!

  • Reply sbc September 21, 2022 at 4:13 pm

    I’m wondering if more physical activity would help–I know the weather’s gross but swimming might make them more tired and thus less crabby (or at least fewer waking hours of crabbiness?)

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger September 21, 2022 at 4:33 pm

      Oh I’m sure it would! But I don’t always want to facilitate said activity and not that many activities satisfy all 3 kids …
      The simultaneous gymnastics class is a win. Wonder what else we could add in a similar vein …

      • Reply Diane September 21, 2022 at 9:58 pm

        Oh! Another idea- My kids (10, 5, and 3) really like the rock climbing gym. At ours you can book a group lessons so an instructor takes them- it’s the only way to get the three year old involved because she is technically too young for classes.

  • Reply Amwa September 21, 2022 at 10:45 pm

    My kiddos are much older than yours – and I still remember the way their behavior would deteriorate when they’d had too much screen time. The fights! And the general crabbiness!

    I’m very intrigued by that notebook – both for me and the aforementioned offspring. They are 16 and 19, both at home this year and both juggling a lot of stuff. At this price point I can order a notebook for each and feel zero guilt if they’re not interested. Which will make my *ahem* third jet pens order in four months.

  • Reply omdg September 22, 2022 at 5:49 am

    I’ve been enjoying watching (non-animated) movies with Dylan this summer. So far she has enjoyed:
    – Mean Girls
    – Clueless
    – Freaky Friday
    – Princess Diaries
    – Goonies

    She was totally meh on:
    – Labyrinth
    – Back to the Future
    – Princess Bride (I KNOW!)

    Your posts have been making me reflect on my own life. I also seem to have difficulty enjoying the time I have “off” (although realistically, I am not “off” very often). Part of it is the difficulty finding things to do with my daughter that I think we will both enjoy. So often we both get sucked into screens (I still do like playing video games with her from time to time) and it is a pit that can be difficult to crawl out of. I think about cutting back on work, but I worry that any extra time I cultivate will just be sucked up by chores that I don’t particularly like that my husband currently does. Honestly though, I don’t know that my daughter really wants to do big special activities with me. Some of the nicest moments we have had recently have been sitting in the back yard playing with the dog (she has built a jumping course and likes to practice jumping 1) herself, and 2) with the dog). We even configured the wifi so it works well out there, so sometimes I can do my preops while watching her jump. She also seems to like shopping online with me… IDK.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger September 22, 2022 at 6:12 am

      First, I am SO EXCITED that D liked the first list of movies b/c I 100% think A will too. I think she’s seen Princeess Diaries + Freaky Friday but not the others. Just need to get her alone b/c I am not sure they will be universally popular with all 3 kids.

      The low key jumping outdoor time sounds lovely even if you’re (sometimes) doing preops.

    • Reply gwinne September 22, 2022 at 2:08 pm

      Labyrinth….my 10-y-o might go for that! We’ve done Goonies and Freaky Friday. Mostly he likes Star Wars or Marvel universes on Disney.

  • Reply Lori C September 22, 2022 at 8:50 pm

    I didn’t come t on your last post but meant to. Just wanted to commiserate as I share your sentiments. I forget how you worded it, but I’m sick of playing cruise director every weekend too. I hate to pull the, “when I was a kid….” But seriously?!?! We played outside and I did Girl Scouts and ballet. The End. I feel like my kids somewhat rely on me (probably my fault) for providing them with a daily itinerary. Both my 7 and 5 year old are asking near constantly what we are doing today/next… which I know is partly due to age, but they also seem to have high expectations at my response. Lol.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger September 23, 2022 at 5:47 am

      yes – “daily itinerary”. Perfect descriptor. And I have itinerary fatigue . . .

  • Reply Kate September 23, 2022 at 6:28 am

    ‘Whack-a-mole”, this made me laugh out loud. I’ve just had a parenting day that very much feels like this!

  • Reply Cheryll Hays September 23, 2022 at 2:22 pm

    Have your kids seen Bad Guys? we bought it on VUDU and mine love it.

  • Reply Heather September 23, 2022 at 2:41 pm

    I think you could create something like a monthly choice board. At the beginning of each month, sit down as a family and basically create a board of weekend activities. Some activities will probably always be on the board and some might change depending on the season. You could even like theme the rows and allow each kid to pick two. Kids like to feel included in planning and they also like to feel that they have choice. You could do like three rows of five or four rows of five.

    Also, don’t be afraid to tell your kids, especially the older ones to figure it out if they’re bored. My nephew is an only child and my sister and I will only play so much with him. After that, it’s up to him to figure it out.

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