I'm linking up a day late with all the Not Just A Mom bloggers because yesterday was Canadian Thanksgiving. I'm afraid I don't have a lot of great tips for this one so I'm looking forward to reading how other people answered this question because I need some tips.
First, I need to define what constitutes a "busy night" for us. It's either a night where we are all out for supper and the evening (like for our mid-week church program), or one of the kids has activities after school or after supper (think baseball or dance evenings), or we're trying to get something done in the evening (think running "can't wait" errands during the week or we have a family event happening after supper).
My best tips for how we handle busy nights are:
1) Plan a supper ahead of time which won't take much work -- we often do tacos which are quick to make, a casserole which can be prepared ahead of time and popped in the oven, a quick pasta dish., or leftovers. Busy nights are not the nights to spend more than about fifteen to twenty minutes making dinner.
2) Divide and conquer -- Dave will drive Rachel to dance and I will pick up our CSA. Or he will make supper and I will get the kids ready to head out the door. On busy nights, one parent can't handle doing it all without losing their temper.
3) Get the kids moving -- If we know we have to leave for the evening, I will get the kids to do chores right after school -- taking out the garbage and recycling, doing dishes, or having showers right after school. Anything that doesn't need to wait until after supper to happen, happens before we have to leave.
4) Don't be afraid of fast food -- If we have an midweek evening activity happening after supper like trick or treating on Halloween or some of the evening events during the holidays, we will often grab a fast food supper, in addition to trying to get a lot of things done after school. We don't always have time to cook and sometimes, knowing we're grabbing a quick supper out, motivates the kids (and me!) to get more done ahead of time.
5) Schedule in some down time -- I don't know about you, but my family gets really grumpy when we have too many busy nights in a row. We can't "go go go" all the time without melting down. So we make sure that we have space in our schedule to relax and do our own things too. If I know we have a few busier nights in a row, I will make sure the evening before and after don't have a lot of plans.
Like I said, I don't know that any of these tips are earth shattering and I'm looking forward to reading what the other bloggers in the link up have to share. You can check out the other bloggers, and find the link up, at their blogs below.