Where did the weekend go? If you're like me, you spend many Saturdays and Sundays chauffeuring kids to soccer games and birthday parties in between getting chores done that you couldn't complete during the week.

But isn't this when we're supposed to be spending quality time with our family? It's time to reclaim the family weekend! Here are nine ways to do so.

1. Plan and schedule big outings or projects in advance.

If dad wants to tackle the garage mess this weekend or mom needs to weed the garden, let these plans be known before Saturday morning. Otherwise, it throws off others' expectations of what the weekend might entail. Additionally, if you have ideas for a family outing, mention the idea early in the week or, ideally, weeks in advance. With proper planning, the outing is more likely to happen.

2. Stay ahead of straightening the house during the week.

Don't let the mail, clothes, or toys pile up all week long. Spending the extra few minutes during the week to keep on top of straightening the house means less time having to do so on the weekend. Sort the mail as soon as you grab it from the mailbox. Put toys away each evening. Do laundry during the week instead of all day on Sunday.

3. Get the kids involved in chores.

The more people involved in chores, the sooner the chores are completed. Even your kindergartener is old enough to tackle some tasks around the house. Have the kids keep on top of little messes during the week so bigger messes don't await them on the weekends. If weekends are the time to clean, crank up the tunes and make it an all-hands-on-deck affair.

4. Have the kids help in the kitchen.

In a recent survey, parents confessed to spending two to three hours in the kitchen each day. Get the kids there, too! Older children can help with meal preparation, and kids involved in preparing meals are more likely to eat the foods. Making dinner or baking cookies can be a great way to spend quality time with your family.

5. Consolidate your errands.

Leave a few minutes early before Tuesday's dance practice to mail that package at the post office. Make a deposit at the bank on your lunch hour during the week. Or consolidate such tasks into one job on Saturday morning. Minimizing the number of errands you run on the weekend saves time and gas, too!

6. Have a standing date.

Many families have standing reservations for family time. Stand firm against other events and responsibilities creeping into that time.

7. Rethink what family time means.

Family time can be anywhere, any place, as long as the family is together. Museum trips and weekend getaways are fun, but a quiet board game at home, movie night on the couch, or fun conversations around the dinner table count just as much.

8. Avoid over-committing to others.

Your daughter doesn't have to attend every birthday party she's invited to. Your son will survive a day not seeing his friends in the neighborhood. Your mother will understand if you don't attend one Sunday dinner. Committing time to your immediate family often means taking a look at how much time you're spending with others.

9. Don't stress.

The reality is, sometimes Saturday and Sunday are two extra days to get things do or do nothing at all. Family time is important, but remember the laughing you shared with your kids on the way to soccer practice? Or lounging in bed watching cartoons together? It counts. Maybe you're having family time without even knowing it.

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