Tips for Making After School Easier
Last week, I offered tips for making the morning easier I had thought morning was the toughest time to tackle, which is why I started there. As I started to think about after school, I realized this hour or so may be even tougher. Morning is tough because my kids are struggling to wake up and get into the groove of the day. Mornings are tough because of their issues. After school is tough because of my issues.
I need transition time, probably even more so than my kids do. When we walk in the door around 4:00 PM, I need time to adjust from work-mode to home-mode. I need to get bags unpacked, get a little organized, and get out of my work clothes and into my comfy clothes. My kids want attention. This often puts us at odds.
While this is probably still a challenging time of day for us (well, me), I have found some things that help quite a bit. Here are our tips for making after school easier:
1. Create a routine. You knew I would suggest this, didn't you? Creating a routine helps everyone to know what needs to be done and when. Kind of like the blueprint for the afternoon. If you need help creating a routine, you can read my post on how to create a routine for kids here.
2. Fill their bellies. My kids do better when they are not hungry. So getting them an after school snack when we get home goes a long way in making the next hour run smoothly. What's even nicer is when they can get their own snack, without my help. We have a number of snacks that are easy enough for the boys to get themselves. Yogurt, string cheese, fruit, applesauce, pretzels, animal crackers -- all of these snacks are available and they know how to get them out and get started on them.
3. Give them a job to do. As I said, I need about ten minutes when we get home to get myself together. So my kids have a few simple "jobs" to do when we first get home that buy me a little time. They both need to unpack their backpacks and put them away. Papers and lunch bags go on the kitchen island, bags go in the bin by the door. Then they can get a snack. Then there is usually a chore that can be done, such as bringing the trash can up from the curb or feeding the cats, if I need a little extra time.
4. Base when you do tasks on the needs of your kids. In that hour or two between walking in the door and sitting down to dinner, there are three things my kids need. One is to do homework, another is to play, and finally is to do their chores. I know my kids do best if we get homework out of the way first, then they have time to play, then they do chores right before dinner (or after if it works better). Other kids are different and need time to play before they can focus on homework, but mine get too tuckered out and do a poor job if we try to do homework later in the day. Base the order you do things on how well your kids can accomplish the tasks. When kids can experience success easier, they have much better attitudes!