“Mom!” my daughter shouts, “open the door!” She is standing in the garage at the locked door that leads to our house. Her backpack is still in the car and I am carrying the mail, my purse and our sweaters to the door. Once I get it open, the kids push their way through, leaving a trail of shoes and lunch boxes behind them and the after school routine begins again. This was a typical scene in our house and would result in me feeling stressed and snapping at the kids and them snapping right back. Clearly, something had to change. You would think after school time would be less stressful than the morning. After all, you’re not rushing kids out the door while trying to remember lunches, homework assignments and sweaters. You are just picking kids up from school and going home. What could be stressful? Turns out a lot! Parents and kids these days are busier than ever and often a result of that business is stress. I have managed to eliminate most of the stress that afternoons used to cause, and I wanted to help you do the same with these 5 Tips for a Stress Free After School Routine.
Get the Kids Involved
As soon as my kids walk in the door they empty their lunchboxes, placing washable items in the sink or dishwasher and placing their ice packs back in the refrigerator. This really helps cut down on my stress as I am not searching the house for water bottles and ice packs. My kids also empty their backpacks and place them in the mudroom. I am easily able to see any homework or notes that have come home from school.
Make Snacktime Easy
Along the lines of getting the kids involved, I have made them responsible for their own after school snack. I started a self serve snack station that has a few options that my kids can chose from. All items are easy for kids to prepare and reach. I bought some kid sized pitchers and have them filled with water, juice or milk and the kids can pour their own beverages.
One of our favorite easy snacks is Uncrustables. Uncrustables Sandwiches are ready to go wherever the day takes you—so your family can stay unstoppable. Just thaw, unwrap, and enjoy! Before I leave to pick up my girls from school, I take the Uncrustables out the freezer to thaw. They are ready to eat when the kids come home. They just grab them and go!
Uncrustables are handheld PB&J sandwiches that combine the delicious taste of a homemade sandwich with on-the-go ease. I don’t know about you, but my kids come home from school HUNGRY. All that learning really works up an appetite.
Have a Schedule
A schedule is nesccary to keep an afterschool routine running smoothly. Now don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be a strict shedule that says from 3:30-4:00 we have snack, from 4-4:45 we do homework… But it does really help to have some idea of what you and your kids need to be doing in the afternoon. We always unpack our things first, eat snack, then get started with homework. While the kids are doing their homework, I get started working on dinner. I have some rough times for these activities and if they take a lot more time then I try and manage things to make sure there is still time for playing and fun.
Monthly Reading Chart
Now that my twins are in second grade the amount of homework they have each night is 45 minutes including 20 minutes of reading. Even my kindergarten student is required to read 10 minutes a day. It seems like this is pretty typical for elementary school, but it can be difficult to keep track, especially when you are dealing with multiple kids. To help keep our family unstoppable we use craft and activity ideas such as this Free Printable Monthly Reading Calendar from Disney and Uncrustables. Uncrustables has teamed up with Disney to give families everything they need to be unstoppable this school year. What I love about this reading calendar is that it allows kids to set monthly goals of how many pages they hope to read. This has been extremely motivating for my kids and at a quick glance I can check if everyone has done their reading for the day.
Limit After School Activities
We have one after school activity each week. I know some people have more and make it work, but for us, one activity is all we can handle. Some of my friends schedule activities like lessons on the weekends to keep things manageable after school.
With a few small tweaks, after school time can go from stressful to calm. At least until your kids ask you to help them with their homework.