4 Strategies to Help Ease the Weekend Transition

Image via Katie Hurley
Image via Katie Hurley

After a very busy and structured school week, many parents prefer to throw the structure out the window on the weekends and just relax.  While it’s nice to stay in bed cuddling a little bit longer and taking a slower approach to the day, pushing kids too far beyond their normal schedule can lead to meltdowns.

Kids thrive on structure because structure increases predictability—they know what’s coming. They also grow accustomed to specific sleep and eating schedules.

Kids thrive on structure because structure increases predictability—they know what’s coming. They also grow accustomed to specific sleep and eating schedules. Big changes to these schedules can lead to exhaustion and hunger, and that’s no fun for anyone in the house.

But this doesn't mean that you need to jump out of bed and have pancakes on the table at 6:30 a.m. on a Saturday. You can make slight adjustments to the schedule and use some strategies to help your kids transition into a slower weekend schedule.

4 Strategies to help ease the weekend transition:

Image via Flickr/dbrekke
Image via Flickr/dbrekke

Prepare ahead: 

If you want to buy time in the morning, prepare ahead before you go to bed. I've been known to make a batch of pumpkin waffles or peanut butter pancakes at night and freeze them for a quick and easy breakfast.

Prepare small bowls of pre-cut fruit and put them at child level in the fridge, so that your child can grab an easy snack if he or she wakes up hungry. Consider placing a small bag of whole grain cereal on your night stand for another easy option. 

Coloring books and crayons in your bedroom with a small morning snack will enable your child to hold off on that super early breakfast.  

{ MORE: Work Hard, Sleep Harder: How to Improve Your Sleep Health }

Image via Flickr/suzettesuzette
Image via Flickr/suzettesuzette

Have some structure:

It’s nice to lounge around in PJs and just play for a while – it gives kids some much-needed time to catch up on unstructured play and leave the stress of school behind – however, too much hanging around can eventually lead to cranky kids.

Have a little structure. Fit in some craft time, outside playtime, and downtime. 

Image via Philippe Put
Image via Philippe Put

Get outside:

Even in cold temperatures (but not dangerously cold temperatures), getting outside for a few minutes can really energize kids. Kids need to move their bodies—too much sitting around leaves them feeling lethargic and cranky. Bundle up and take a walk! Play “I Spy” along the way or make it into a nature hunt.

Too cold? Pop in a yoga DVD just for kids, create a treasure hunt around the house, build an obstacle course, or rely on a dance party (add some dance games for a new twist).  

{ MORE: Tips for a Great Sleepover at Grandma and Grandpa's }

Image via Flickr/katrinket
Image via Flickr/katrinket

Don’t stray too far:

Adjusting to a completely different schedule with no notice is a difficult task or a small child (remember daylight savings?) Even 20 minutes of lost sleep can make the next day exhausting for your child.

Try to be mindful of sleep and eating schedules on the weekends. You can still enjoy a slower pace while making sure that your child doesn't become overwhelmed and/or exhausted in the process.

{ MORE: Parenting 101 with Robyn Spizman: Tips for Creative Parenting }

How do you keep your family from straying too far from routine on the weekend?

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4 Strategies to Help Ease the Weekend Transition

Katie Hurley, LCSW is a Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist and writer in Los Angeles, CA. She is the author of "No More Mean Girls: The Secret to Raising Strong, Confident, and Compassionate Girls" and "The Happy Kid Handbook: How to Raise Joyful Children in a Stressful World". She earned her BA in Psychology and Women's Studies from Boston College and her MSW from the University of Pennsylvania. She divides her time between her family, her private practice and her writing. Passionate about he ... More

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