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Making the Most of the Evening Hour(s)

I’ve been trying to keep us active in that awful time frame between the end of dinner and the beginning of bedtime since school started three weeks ago. Not every night, but most nights, I like to have something small planned. Like walking the dog up to see if the cows will moo at us. Or going to the library for our monthly haul, to trade in a book that missed the mark, or to pick up holds. Or a kickball game in the backyard, complete with full contact body tackles by the dog. Or soccer practice on Thursdays. Or, when it starts up at the end of the month, a class at the library on Fridays.

You get the point.

I mean, sometimes we need a low-key, everyone sits on the couch and reads all the books type of evening. Sometimes we need to clean up bedrooms and playrooms and offices and other messes we’ve made. Sometimes we need to go to our own corners and sulk because being a family is hard.

But sometimes — more often than not — we just need to get up and do something. Anything. Together.

Last night, we went to one of our city playgrounds. As the day got a little chillier and a little more overcast, I decided it would be the best after dinner activity. I knew the weather would keep crowds at bay. That’s right: My favorite playground remains an uncrowded playground. When we arrived, only two other families watched as their children ran off their energy. Perfection.

The boys ran off before I even extracted myself from the car. They’re fast. I found a picnic table near one of the “big kid” sets and sat down next to my husband.

Not that long ago, I used to panic when the boys would climb the ladders and rock walls on that particular set. In fact, I used to tell them that they could only play on it if Daddy was with us. I couldn’t handle my rule of not hovering and letting them play on that thing. My husband’s presence was required for observation; I couldn’t look. Or breathe.

Playground Fun

Yesterday, they climbed and raced (too fast! slow down!) and jumped to reach their “chosen” rock and generally played on the set the way the set was meant to be played on: with all of the joy. I followed them around for a little while, snapping pictures and keeping my mouth as shut as possible. (Let’s face it: I’m a talker.)

Climbing the Rock Wall

Climbing the Rock Wall

Eventually LittleBrother gave the monkey bars on this set a try. He surprised me a few weeks ago when he just starting climbing across; neither of us had any idea he could maneuver the monkey bars! These ones hung a little differently, and so he gave it some valiant effort.

Monkey Bars

Eventually, he made it all the way across, further proving that if I just sit and let them do their thing, they will do more than either of us can imagine.

Going!

Eventually they bored of the toys and asked us to play tag. It went a little something like this:

In the end, we all laughed ourselves silly, used up our evening energy with minimal arguing and whining, and ended up sleeping wonderfully last night. In fact, I actually had to wake the boys up for school this morning.

I love when we find something fun and easy to do with that stretch of time in the evenings…

…like tonight. They get to go to a Volunteer Meeting at the school with me. I hope they can contain their excitement.

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