Routines can make a home with children so much less chaotic. Last week I shared some simple tips for a morning routine – getting the kids out the door in the morning can be somewhat chaotic if you are not working together with a plan.
I have found that the arrival of everyone back into the house after school can be just as stressful for moms. Kids come home hungry and toss their backpack on the kitchen floor, which can make any mom a little cranky!
Routines are great and can keep everyone on task and create a great rhythm to your afternoon. The trick is to play into each of your child’s own rhythm. Take some time to observe each of your children. Some children need to come home and relax or do some physical activity, while others do better starting right in on homework assignments. All of your children may fall into the same category, but most often you will have those that fall into both.
If you have children that fall into both you can set up a different routine for each of them, but typically the same type of tasks need to be completed immediately upon walking in the door.
Hang up Coat
Pull out school papers
Put backpack away
I love the free printable simple routine chart Amy over at Living Locurto made up for her son:
1. Hang up his backpack and coat.
2. Wash his hands.
3. Get out his school work to show me.
You can make a small list/chart like this one to include the tasks that each of your children need to do.
Often moms have trouble getting their child to put away their items. I suggest that snack time is not started until things are put away. If your child chooses to not put their items away, then there is no snack. I can almost guarantee that if they baulk at this initially, it will not last long, especially if there are other children in your home sitting down and having a snack with mom!
I find that children need some ‘connecting’ time after a long day at school. Instead of sitting them down to have snack on their own, join them! Take the time to sit and ask about their day – their favorite part, their not so favorite part or maybe even read a book together at the table.
Whatever you choose, really concentrate on giving your child your full attention, especially eye contact. You may be surprised how this time spent connecting will improve their attitude and cooperation as the evening goes on.
After snack you can determine what your child needs – do they need to burn more energy or are they ready to get to work?
Our after school routine includes a few daily chores and they are done immediately following snack – taking out the garbage, putting laundry away or playing outside with the dog. This helps them get into a regular routine and chores get done instead of the usual nagging that can become habit.
Obviously homework needs to be done at sometime. At different developmental stages we have found that homework being done is best immediately after dinner, but at other times, before dinner was a better time. If you are unsure, try it one way for a week and then change it up to see how your child responds. They may need to have some downtime before jumping into doing homework – if so, then after dinner may be the best solution.
The main areas to include in your after school routine are:
Putting items away – coat, backpack
Emptying any school papers
Chores, if they are part of your family responsibilities
It is worth the time and energy to work out an after school routine. Once it is in place, life will run a lot smoother in your household and you will actually look forward to your kids walking through the door instead of dreading the trail of backpacks and coats that end up littering your entryway.
What part of your after school routine has been the most helpful?