Before having kids, we did everything on the weekends: cleaning, laundry, going to new events, exploring new restaurants, parks, etc. The weekdays were for working, exercise, dinner, and relaxing. Ah … what a simple life it was.
After having our first baby, the weeknight workload definitely increased. But we still saved almost everything for the weekends: Grocery shopping, cleaning, laundry, etc.
The chores often overtook our fun time. When we did decide to do something as a family, like checking out a new restaurant or event, it felt like everyone else had the same idea. The park or ice cream shop or farmers market was so crowded it wasn’t fun. The kids were overstimulated and we were stressed trying to keep them close, safe, and content with so many people around.
In the summer after my youngest was born, I was looking for ways to spend 1:1 time with my oldest. He missed my undivided attention, so I started bringing him with me on errands after I picked him up from school.
We started out with trips to the grocery store or Target. We had fun together even though we were just doing errands. I gradually began to look for more opportunities to explore together. That’s when after-school adventures began.
Weeknights are the perfect chance to do or see something new.
I pick my son up from preschool and sometimes pack a snack or picnic dinner. Other times we grab a bite to eat before heading to our final destination. The timeline of 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. is just enough time to check out something new, get a bite to eat, and make it home in time for bed. My kiddos have never been the “early to bed” type, so they’re almost always up past 8 p.m. anyway.
I know it’s important to keep kids on a routine and schedule, so they know what to expect every day. But I also think as parents it’s easy to only focus on a schedule and forget to have fun! Sometimes it’s OK to just go with the flow.
Our after-school adventures mostly take us to new parks in the Des Moines metro area, but we have made several trips to Snookies for ice cream, explored splash pads, the Art Center, the Beaverdale Farmer’s Market, Jasper Winery’s Summer Concert Series, and the Brenton Arboretum.
I love that these events, businesses, and parks are not super crowded and busy on weeknights. We’re able to enjoy some quality time together while keeping our weekends for chores, errands, and family time.
This year, I’m hoping to try after school adventures with both of my boys, sometimes individually, sometimes together. Snookies, Raccoon River Park, The Des Moines Children’s Museum, and the Jasper Winery Summer Concert Series, are on my list. I’d love to explore other parks, places, and events on weeknights.