You asked

I'm a working parent with children. How can I get the most out of weekends?

Do your weekly grocery shopping on a scheduled day during the week. If you do it on the way home from work, you will save yourself the hassle of having your children with you in the shops. This will speed up the process and free up weekend time. Weigh up how much it will cost in time and money to go shopping, versus getting your groceries delivered to your door. Most large retail chain stores offer a delivery service and online shopping. The fee is modest and the service can save you weekend time too. Local farms may also offer a weekly delivery service of fresh produce. It is worth enquiring and trying out.
Having internet access is great for doing the majority of your banking, payments of bills and account settlements. You can use an electronic calendar and send email reminders to yourself for appointments and important events coming up.
Arrange that in the middle of the week, you and your spouse discuss and confirm any plans for the upcoming weekend. This prevents planning errors and false assumptions from happening. Prioritise what needs to happen, and what would be nice to fit into the weekend. Make sure that arrangements are made before the time, such as babysitters, reservations, routes to follow to destinations of interest, and who you are planning to visit.
If you are too busy in the week to do all the necessary chores, you can get you children to help you with catching up over the weekend. Choose age-appropriate chores for your children to tackle. As they get older, they can do more important things. Doing chores with your children means that they learn responsibility and how to work together as a family. Since you are spending time with them doing house work, it is not like you have to choose between chores and your children.
Develop some family weekend traditions. Work out a list of fun things to do as a family and allow your children each a turn to choose an activity for a weekend. By having something to look forward to, you children also learn to compromise. They will learn that they can't always have things their way when participating in family activities. There are a number of family activities you can do every weekend. Attending religious services on the weekend as a family is a good bonding experience. Cook a simple meal together, like pancakes or pizza and make a regular tradition of it. This gets your children involved with the food preparation process, and that can be extended to week day meals as they increase their skills and get older. Watching a movie as a family, complete with snacks and a darkened room can recreate the cinema experience at home.
In addition to traditional activities, have a few options available for more spur-of-the-moment excursions and things to do. Keep track of happenings at local venues, such as zoos, museums, farms or town markets. Some establishments offer memberships, which are great value for families. Have materials on hand to do small art projects, anything from making paper mache sculptures, to finger painting is suitable. Have a project, such as making a family scrapbook, which can be divided into tasks that are suitable for each of you children, depending on their age.
Schedule a morning or afternoon during the course of the weekend for relaxed activity, where each family member can do their own thing while still being in together. Parents can read the newspaper, while children draw, or build puzzles. This kind of activity teaches your children to create their own entertainment and to not expect an elaborately planned series of weekend events.

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