When I arrive home from work we sit down to dinner and the kids fill me in on their days and my husband fills me in on his day and then there is the dinner clean-up and the dessert dish-out and Lord knows we would probably all be happy to lay on a couch and zone out until the time where we can crawl into our respective beds. Don't get me wrong - this sometimes happens. Especially if there is some AFV on the teevee.
The rest of the time I make a valiant effort to rally the troops so that our family memories involve more that the couch and the remote. A few activities that have worked for us:
1. Go for a walk.
I know, right? A walk. It seems so old-fashioned and almost uncivilized. We have a dog that enjoys the exercise and the kids love to throw rocks in the creek (over and over and over again) and point out wild flowers and just walk. The fresh air is an added bonus for the bedtime hour.
2. Play a game.
My kids are WEE, you say. They cannot play GAMES, you say. But oh, they can. They can play hide-and-seek (it's sketchy as a toddler but also, funny). They can play "I spy with my little eye" (to infinity). The can play Bocce ball. They may walk right up to the other balls and drop theirs, but do we really need to be sticklers about technique?
3. Read a book together
Our kids' school has a required reading program, so some nights our reading consists of working through those books. Other nights, we'll read a chapter or two of a book series that the whole family loves (right now it's Percy Jackson and the Olympians). It's a good excuse to cuddle together on the couch and is a great way to wind down before everyone heads to bed.
I'm not suggesting that you try to be Super Mom (or Super Dad) and plan fantastic family activities every single night. On the days when everyone is burnt out you can keep it on the quiet side but on those other nights, maybe get outside and make some new memories. It's worth it.
Angella is the wife of one and the mom of three. She is a Chartered Accountant during the day and a writer/photographer by night. You can see what she's up to over at her site Dutch Blitz, or read her blurbs on Twitter.