Family Things to Do when Your Husband is Gone in the Evenings
Picture that iconic family meal together. Although research proves that families who eat together on a regular basis don’t have as many domestic issues, this may not be the most practical ideal for your family. See article.
Perhaps your husband has an evening job or is attending night school. When my husband went back to college, I wanted more than four kids and I staring at each other and missing Dad three nights a week for eighteen months. With a little planning this can be a great time for your family. At the beginning of “Dad’s school”, I made a “no moping rule.” The children could say “I miss Dad,” but only one time each day. Any more than once was complaining.
Here are some ways we made it special.
1. Food-If there is a meal the children love but your husband doesn’t, this is the opportunity to make it. (You should still have something available for your husband, even if it is leftovers from yesterday). Since spaghetti is a favorite meal for me and the children, but not the husband, we planned to have “Spaghetti night” on the night Dad went from work to class. We loved “spaghetti night”. Of course, once dinner is done and cleaned up, you still may have an hour or two to fill until bedtime.
2. Activities-We try to fill one of our “Dad’s school” nights with a going away activity. I signed the kids up for 9 week swimming lessons at the YMCA on Tuesday nights. The kids learned to swim. I relaxed in the hot tub. All four kids were showered and pajama-ed before we left the Y. When we returned home, it was “snack, brush teeth, and bedtime”. Those kids fell asleep quickly after all that swimming. You also may find a Wednesday night church program for all ages during the school year. Remind yourself that you can’t do everything, and do not plan to be gone three nights a week. It will most likely exhaust you and your family.
3. Books-(Yes, really). Pick a chapter book that will appeal to all the ages of your kids. I like the Chronicles of Narnia series or the Boxcar Children. Pick a book you cannot finish reading in an evening so they have something to look forward to next week. Have them get you a nice glass of water, cuddle up on the couch, and read until bedtime. Stop dramatically at the end of each chapter or at an especially exciting part so they can say “Please keep reading!” Thursday night is book night.
4. Movie night-While we do try to limit “movie nights” to weekends only, it is an occasional treat. (Actually, it is more appreciated because it happens rarely). Make popcorn and fill travel mugs with root beer or chocolate milk. We use travel mugs to avoid spills in the living room. Make “movie night” an occasion.
5. Games-One of our favorite things was to get out those battery-powered guns that shoot foam discs. We used the whole house and the “team approach” to dodge and shoot and surprise each other. We also used a “family team approach” for cleaning up all those foam discs. If you have a gaming system, you could use the evening for games. We also had racing tournaments on the Wii.
6. Special Privileges-Since it was “Dad’s school night,” the young twins were excited to sleep in their brother’s bed on the top bunk. The older two children shared the bottom bunk. Yes, it took a little longer to fall asleep but it was only one night a week, and they felt very special.
With a little foresight, the time without Dad need not be so lonely or difficult for you or your children. Instead of dreading “Dad’s school night”, we began to look forward to it. We still missed Dad but we had fun too.