Weekday Family Activities for Busy Parents

Family playing a game on the coffee together on a weeknight

Life is busy for today’s families. Between work, school, activities, and more, downtime seems harder to come by. However, spending time as a family can be just what you need to refresh and recharge—and it does not have to take too much effort to make this happen. Just a little time or planning can quickly bring your family together at the end of a busy day for quality time together.

Here are some weeknight family activities that can be easily integrated into your weekly schedule:

Pick a classic card game to play. Ask your family for a list of two or three favorite card games. Write each game on an index card and fold in half. Place in a basket along with a deck or two of cards and keep the basket in a high traffic area of your house, such as the kitchen. When you have a few minutes, perhaps after dinner, pick an index card at random from the basket and play the old school card game it suggests. The element of “What game will we play tonight?” suspense makes this experience even more appealing.

Introduce Pictionary or Charades. Little brings about more smiles than a game of Pictionary or Charades. As family members try to draw a picture or use movement to encourage others to guess a word or phrase, natural laughter takes over. Supplies are simple—some paper and pencils or markers. Each round of this game has a fairly predictable timeline, so you can decide in advance if you have time for one, five or more.

Walk, stretch, or meditate. Both movement, such as walking or a bike ride, and stillness, such as child-friendly yoga and meditation, are healthy habits to build within your family. Pick one of these to periodically add to your weekday evening routine. Some nights you may have time for a brief walk or bike ride around the neighborhood, while your busiest evenings may only allow for a few minutes of meditation before bedtime.

Read for 15 minutes before bedtime. Rather than thinking that reading books before bed must be a long process, think about story time in 15-minute chunks, which makes it easier to fit it in as bedtime nears. If you have more than one child, it may be fun to have a joint bedtime story time. Older children can read to younger ones, or all can just enjoy ending the day together as a parent reads to everyone at once.

Tell family stories. Instead of reading a book, you could try telling each other oral stories. Children love to be told and re-told stories about their lives. A perennial favorite is “on the day you were born,” where you share the details of what happened on the day your child was born. Soon, your children will retell the story on their own and eventually create and share their own stories with the family.

Start a family tradition (or two). Creating simple traditions and adding them to your repertoire will generate even more quick and easy family night fun.

Meaningful family time can be enjoyed, even on a weekday after work. Rather than planning for a grandiose event or activity, re-frame your thinking to look at weekday family activities in short bursts of fun.

More on Family Activities

  • Family time doesn’t need to be expensive to be fun. Try these simple, fun activities with your kids this summer that won’t break the bank.
  • Summer is a great time to get outside and explore new things as a family. Read on for our favorite outdoor summer activities that will get your children moving.
  • Explore ways to integrate work and life in Wins for Working Parents, a Family Matters Podcast featuring Stew Friedman, author of Life You Want: Skills for Integrating Work and Life.

Bright Horizons
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Bright Horizons
Bright Horizons
In 1986, our founders saw that child care was an enormous obstacle for working parents. On-site centers became one way we responded to help employees – and organizations -- work better. Today we offer child care, elder care, and help for education and careers -- tools used by more than 1,000 of the world’s top employers and that power many of the world's best brands
Family playing a game on the coffee together on a weeknight