Family walk

because-I-said-so-green“Saturday is a special day, it’s the day we get ready for Sunday.” That may be true, but that doesn’t mean Saturdays should be all work and no play. After all, if you observe Sundays as a Sabbath Day of worship, Saturday is likely the lone weekend day for family work and play. Make it count with these eight tips for making Saturdays truly special:

1. Plan for the weekend on Wednesday.

With no wake-up call, it’s tempting to wing it on the weekend. But that spontaneity may lead to frustration come Saturday night if you haven’t fit in the things you wanted or needed to do. You don’t need to plan out every minute of the day; just take 15 minutes midweek to pencil in a few keystone events for the weekend. Do your planning on Wednesday, and you’ll have time to find a babysitter, buy movie tickets or pick out a paint color for your weekend project.

2. Balance work and play.

Saturday is the only day at our house when both parents are (usually) home all day. With another adult around to tag-team care of the kids, it’s tempting to use the day to tackle every undone project on your to-do list. But husbands needs a break on that day, too, so try to limit the home improvement and organization projects to one weekend every few months and instead focus on real family time.

3. Do errands on Friday.

As much as possible, run any necessary errands on Friday. Hit the grocery store to stock up for the weekend, pick up shirts at the drycleaners and purchase a gift for the Saturday birthday party. I know some families enjoy running errands together, but not all kids are fans of shopping. And the last thing many people want to do on a sunny Saturday morning is battle the crowds for a cart at my local Costco.

4. Run the horses.

If Sunday is a day of rest for you, try to get as much of your kids’ energy out on Saturday as possible. In my family, we refer to this as running the horses. Do something active. Go hiking, go swimming, go skiing, go biking, go running. Wear your kids out so they sleep well and hopefully don’t go stir-crazy sitting on the pew on Sunday.

5. Keep meals simple.

After a week of cooking meals for your crew, you may be ready for a break on the weekend. I am not yet at the stage of parenting where eating out with my kids is enjoyable so instead I’m embracing simple meals on Saturdays and Sundays. Think cereal for breakfast, leftovers for lunch and nachos or pizza for dinner. Bag of baby carrots is optional.

6. Designate a Saturday budget.

Some weekends, kids want to be endlessly entertained from start to finish. That’s not good for them or for the bank account. If your kids are old enough to grasp basic budgeting skills, set aside a dollar amount each month for weekend activities and let each child take a month managing the money and the fun.

7. Get up early.

Let’s face it — if you have kids, you probably aren’t sleeping in much on the weekend anyway. So why not get up earlier than usual on Saturday and get a jump on your agenda? You could exercise, read a chapter from a book and do a little light cleaning all before the kids get out of bed. (My condolences if you parent early risers).

8. Prep for Sunday.

A few minutes invested on Saturday night help Sunday mornings go much smoother. No matter what time your church services start, it’s helpful to have kids shower or bathe the night before and set out clothes to wear (that includes ironing if necessary). If elaborate Sunday dinners are your thing, make sure you have the ingredients you need.

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