We decided that at the weekends we would let the schedule relax slightly. We have slightly later bed times, for the children and we have our main meal earlier. At the moment it doesn't make a difference to what time Big Boy gets up in the morning, but as Daddy and I have a lay in on the weekend on alternate days we don't mind getting up early on one of them. During the week we keep things fairly rigid. We find that being scheduled helps us to know what we do and don't have time for and having a routine means that we know what we do on what day.
Along with having our schedule we keep a calender, we have the one in the den which we use to keep track of big events, trips out and events we are celebrating. We also have a smaller calender which is kept by our coats on which we keep track of appointments and regular scheduled dates. Having both calenders is beneficial as the children can see in an instant what we are up to and know if we have something planned that they can look forward to it. Using the smaller calender Daddy and I can keep each other informed of what is going on and we can use it to plan when we are going to go on trips and keep a note of important events too.
Every Sunday we enjoy eating a Roast together, everything apart from the PC is turned off (so that we can listen to music) and we take our time to eat the meal. We talk to each other and giggle and have seconds of the bits we like (normally Roast Potatoes and gray!) and because we have it at an earlier time than during the week it means that on the Sunday we can spend time after dinner playing on the Wii or watching a film. It's really important to us to have this big meal once a week where we are all able to talk together and enjoy each others company. We do the same thing on a Thursday night when Daddy is out at work. It's just a chance to sit together and talk and have fun and be together.
On Sundays when we have our last family time of the weekend, we make sure that we focus our time on each other and not on playing a computer game or reading or even tweeting! For us it's important that each other is the focus of our attention and whilst it might be that Daddy has to take a work call we know that he is completing it as quickly as he can so that he can be back to spending time with us. It isn't that we don't tweet, or take time out when we are together, it's just that we try not to make it a habit.
Daddy and I like to be able to spend one on one time with both Tops and BB and so we use the Divide and conquer rule. Each of us will spend time with one child, it might be in the evenings before bed when Daddy and Big Boy play Donkey Kong on the Wii whilst Tops and I read or work on a jigsaw together. It might be that Big Boy and I go to the park whilst Daddy and Top Ender spend time together but we get quality time with each child. The other way that we use the divide and conquer rule is to get a lay in, one parent gets up early one day and the other the next, it works well for us.
Getting absorbed into a TV programme is something that happens very easily, and so we reduce the amount of TV that we have on during the weekend and when we are spending time together during the week. It isn't that we think TV is bad, we spend time watching TV together, but we do realise that less TV is more time to spend together. We listen to the radio or to music (we don't have a CD player so we use our PC and we keep a lot of our music digitally these days too) and we find whilst we are interested in the music we listen to we don't block out everything else around us as we do when watching TV.
Creating the Family night on Sunday nights was the last step into making more time for our family. We wanted a way to end the weekend making sure that everyone knew what was important and for us that is family. Spending the time together, enjoying each others company and just being together as a unit.
Those are the seven steps we took to have more time together as a family. Would they work for your family or would you suggest something different to create more quality time with your family?