How to help kids recharge on weekends

Weekends may sometimes be thought of as a time for kids to do “nothing.” And while weekends are absolutely a time for students to rest, a truly refreshing weekend involves a combination of mindful relaxation and exploration that makes them value their time off. Here are four tips to help give your kids a satisfying break that will get them ready for the school week.

Break them out of their routines

Ever have one of those weekends that went by in a snap and you’re left wondering where your time went? You can help your kids avoid that by exposing them to new things. New experiences aren’t just important for building character; our brains actually perceive them differently from our routine lives. 

According to neuroscientist David Eagleman, time seems to pass by slower when your brain takes in unfamiliar information, so doing fresh activities may make your kids feel like the weekend is longer. Ask your children about things they’re interested in that they haven’t done before, and keep your ears open for novel events and activities you think they may like, such as local festivals or family-friendly classes.

Create a loose weekend plan

Plans are important to make sure your kids engage in recreation they value instead of sticking to pastimes that are just easy or convenient for them to do. The key is to balance structure with downtime, coming up with a few activities and spacing them out so you don’t have to rush between them. You should also include your children in this, as making a plan with your kids may get them excited about their weekend adventures. As anyone who has seen kids unwrap presents can attest, anticipation enhances enjoyment.

Make sure they get enough sleep

Many parents prioritize their children’s sleep during the week, but when the weekend comes it’s easy to be more lax with enforcing bedtime. While it’s tempting to let your kids stay up late on Friday and Saturday, you should try to make sure they go to bed around the same time as during the school week. Going to bed later means your kids will need to sleep in to make up for lost shuteye, which may throw off their internal sleep clock for the next day or more. 

If they don’t sleep in, that’s also bad. Children have more trouble controlling their emotions and get less excited by things that normally make them happy when they don’t get enough rest. Letting your kids stay up late every once in a while is okay as a treat, but sticking to bedtime will help them enjoy their weekend to the fullest.

Do something fun Sunday night

For many people, kids included, Sunday night hardly feels like the weekend. The anxiety that builds before a school week, known as the “Sunday blues” or “Sunday scaries,” can put a damper on how much your kids enjoy their time off. 

One way to remedy that is to schedule a fun family activity for Sunday evening. Having something enjoyable like a family puzzle or an art night to look forward to before the weekend wraps up may help keep school dread out of their mind. It’ll also give them a reason to get their homework and chores done earlier in the day, removing another potential source of Sunday night stress.