I don't know if we're the only ones with this issue, but our evenings before DS goes to bed are somewhat boring and routine. It's come home from work, prep and eat dinner, then we play with DS or he plays on his own and then it's his bedtime.
I guess I'm looking for some other things we can do with DS in the 1-2 hour span we have in the evening. DS is 2.5. Any ideas?
Sometimes it's that part of the day that really gets me down, actually. I often feel like I am on a treadmill - just keep moving and everything has to do with getting ready for work in some way. But maybe that is just me
I find that when the weather is getting nice and days are getting longer, getting outside during this time is really fun. We have a dog, so we usually go for a walk and explore, picking up rocks or sticks, looking at birds, picking flowers. I am kind of nerdy and have lots of field guides so we come back and look at books to identify the birds or flowers we saw. DS really enjoys that. We are also fortunate to live in an area with lots of restaurants in biking distance. Once a week, we bike out for an early dinner if weather permits. It's a nice way to either break up the week or end the week.
When DH's schedule is consistent (which isn't as often as I'd like), we often take turns being the one that does the cooking and clean up and the one that plays with DS. It helps us to do that because we each get to take turns having fun with DS without worrying about the dinner prep.
Maybe our evenings sound boring too! In some ways, I am glad DS has a late bedtime. He doesn't get in the tub until 8 pm so we have some flexibility with dinner time.
You've described my life, Skippy918. I feel like I should be doing something with my DS but at the end of the day I'm tired. I don't think the fact that it's dark early in the evening helps, either. So depressing. I can't wait for the weather to get nicer so I can take my DS outside after dinner. Once it stays lighter later I think it'll be easier. We're getting a swingset/playset this Spring. I'm sure that will be well used...by my DS and me! We're lucky enough to have a state park about 10 minutes away from us so maybe we'll start taking some walks there, too. We also have another park that offers free concerts on Friday and Saturday nights so that's another option.
Hey Jend1002...you're not nerdy! I love birdwatching! I live across the street from a wooded area and reservoir and it's amazing to see the different types of birds. It's especially nice when they come to visit our yard!
Those slim little evening hours are so important to DD AND to me--we need some time to connect and enjoy one another or we all go crazy! I know things are about to get unpleasant when it's been a few days of just the dinner/bed routine or me sitting in front of the tv while DD runs around the room because I'm so tired.
I'm so happy that the weather is warming--we've already been outside in the evening a few times over the last week. That's our favorite evening activity--be outside. Walks around the neighborhood or to the park that's a few blocks away. Playing in the backyard with water or mud or balls or bubbles. Watering the plants. In the summer, playing in the hose. Especially nice because I can grill while we're out there.
Indoors or outdoors, I like DD to have some physical release for energy in the evening. So we'll run around the house playing follow-the-leader or hide-and-seek or some kind of chasing/monster-related game that DD invents. Or we listen to music and dance.
At 2.5, DD actually really enjoys helping me make dinner. She sits up on the counter and adds things to bowls, stirs, grates cheese. She likes to help clean, too, especially mopping or sweeping (not so much picking-up).
We also read books, play with puppets, take bubble-baths with lots of toys, build things with blocks, stuff like that. DD's VERY into imaginative play with her animals/dolls these days--so we usually have quite a bit of that in the evenings.
I work all day and dh is home so he needs a break and I need to connect. My job is crazy sometimes where I could be home (like today) in the afternoon or other days I am working until 8 PM. So I get how hard it can be to plan.
You know your child best and some parents would say I was crazy about doing such active things a few hours before bedtime but it works great for us. I apologize in advance if any of my suggestions backfire for you and your little one.
I try to do a few active games with the kids. We all enjoy the following: "freeze dance" where we have a electric piano that plays tunes that the kids pick and when the music stops we freeze, the animal game where each person gets a turn choosing to be an animal and the rest of us have to copy them, "I am the leader dancing" where we listen to dance music and each person gets a turn to lead the group. My kids LOVE to be tickled and wrestled with so we do games with that theme (I do not wrestle much because I have a bad back but we adjust it to seeing things like "The no kissing game" or "no tickling game" where there is one designated kisser/tickler who chases the others around a limited space.) We always end up laughing and giggling which really helps with connecting us all.
We have done these games for years and my 8.5 still loves to play them. He is getting bigger and stronger so some of the more physical games we used to play I have to adapt.
My kids enjoy cooking too so I agree with previous poster. Although, honestly, it was not usually a stress reliever for me when my kids were under 4. Now that they are older it goes pretty well.
A great book is "Playful Parenting" by Lawrence Cohen. He really talks about the need to connect is not just for kids but for us parents too. Some of the ideas above are either from him or variations on some activities he described.
Dance Party! You just have to make sure the kids don't get too energized if you want them to be sleepy.
Other than that it's just dinner and bed. I don't mind boring weeknights. It's all about the weekend for us.
Mother of two since 2007 and 2009. Hoping third time's a charm in 2012.
When it's warmer we're outside all the time, we live in a small apartment and have to get out. So in the winter my perpetual quest is to find ways for the kids to get that energy out without bothering the neighbors (though I'm sure we do anyway).
I give horsey rides--I'm on all fours and they take turns with me trying to buck them off (on our bed for a soft landing). They bounce on the bed. We build forts from couch cushions, or towers of couch cushions that they try balancing on.
Sometimes we set up the ikea tent and go camping.
This is all child-directed though, I haven't the energy to think of ideas. My 5 year old is great at coming up with games.
What always strikes me is how little time we spend playing with toys.
Freeze dance party is a great idea.
When DS was that age (and now) and we can't do outdoors (dark, winter), we do some sort of sports-type thing in the front foyer. DH leads DS in "soccer drills", we play some modified baseball with a smallish bat-like thing (now it's a vacuum cleaner wand) and a soft ball; we fly his indoor helicopter; we'll play chase around the dining room table and kitchen island. If it's up to me, and I don't want to do something sports-related, I take DS into his playroom and just let him lead the play. Not until very recently has he been able to play a game (Orchard, mainly - he's not even able to do a matching game yet, really).
I love the idea of getting him to "help" with meal prep, but I've never been able to get him interested or to focus his attention long enough to let me do anything else. It's one of those parenting ideals that just hasn't happened in our household. Eh, maybe with the next kid!
DS, 10/07. Allergies: peanut, egg, wheat. We've added dairy back in. And taken it back out again. It causes sandpaper skin with itchy patches and thrashing during sleep. Due w/ #2 late April, 2012.
I don't think there's anything wrong with just playing! Anyway, what we started doing when DD1 was about that age was "family activity"--after the dinner dishes were done, we'd do an activity as a family. In nicer weather it could be a walk or some time spent outside. Most often, it's a board game or a puzzle we do together. Sometimes we all draw together. Very occasionally, it's TV (DD loves America's Funniest Home Videos, aka "the people fall down show.")
play hide and seek, wrestle/rough house with daddy, read TONS of books (library books), have your son help clean up after dinner (load the dishwasher, wipe his place), sing songs before bed, play with a flashlight in the dark after turning out the lights (or those glow in the dark stars).
Mothering my sweet preschool boy and my new arrival
Several evenings a week I have to work (I WAH, so I get most of my work done while DH is home), but DH and I have been feeling like we're in a dinner-homework-bath-bed rut lately too, and we don't want our kids to think that the only things we do with them are the things we have to do with them, you know?
So now, one evening per week DH goes into work an hour early so that he can come home an hour early, and we all go to the park and kick the soccer ball around, or play whiffle ball, or make up an obstacle course (hop to that tree, run around it 3 times, then walk backwards to that bench), or have a picnic, or do anything that's just pure fun. On those days, I have DS do his homework right when he gets home from school instead of waiting until later in the day, and we have something really simple for dinner -- sandwiches in the park, a pizza, a crockpot meal that can be prepared in the morning, or whatever.
The other workday evenings, DH does play on the floor or in the backyard with the kids while I make dinner, and we always eat dinner together at the table and talk, but it's nice having one whole evening just devoted to fun family time -- our kids really enjoy it, and so do we.