Who here can agree that the first few days of school after an extended break are an absolute nightmare in some ways? Any takers? Just me? Adjusting to our regular routine, dealing with homework, having to find ways to exert all of that pent up energy. It’s not for the faint of heart. I want to suggest something that could make your life exponentially easier — an after school routine.
You can establish an after school routine at any time
Now, some of you may scoff and think, “well, obviously” or maybe your first thought is “if only.” I kid you not, I was the kind of person who never even considered a routine until recently. Yes, people like me exist. You can still establish (or reestablish) an after school routine for your kiddos.
Lack of structure leads to chaos at our house
If we don’t have structure after school, everyone goes a bit nuts. All of my children run in opposite directions when we walk in the door. Since I can’t be in four places at once, chaos ensues. One of them thinks that it’s a great idea to use the big bottle of glue, which the toddler will inevitably get into if I’m not watching him like a hawk. One spends the next fifteen minutes in the bathroom, because, boys. He even brings books in there with him. I’m telling you, these habits start young, folks. One takes this opportunity to bother the brothers that have been gone all day. That results in, “Moooooooooom, get him off of me!” The littlest guy breaks into the pantry, climbs up the shelves and eats all the food he can stuff into his mouth, like a hamster who hasn’t eaten in days.
So, yes…we absolutely need an after school routine.
It’s a preventative measure, really.
It prevents crazy from unfolding before my eyes and my house from being trashed.
The basis for our after school routine
When the kids get home from school, they want to do one of two things: be in front of a screen or go to Chuck E Cheese. Ugh, why? Seriously, send help from the high heavens. Who are these children I’ve created? So, my solution for that is simple: give them what they want, but only after we do something outside, something educational, something fun and something helpful. And when I say “give them what they want,” I mean watching a show or playing on the ipad, not Chuck E Cheese. I like my sanity too much to go there with a gaggle of children. One? Maybe. Two? Perhaps, but not more.
How our after school routine unfolds
- 2:30 Pick up bigs from school and walk to destination of choice
- 3:00 – 4:00 Outside play time
- 4:00 – 4:30 Go home and do homework.
- 4:30 – 5:00 Play a game (Trouble, UNO and Candyland are favorites)
- 5:00 – 5:30 Clean up time (take a peek at my chore chart for ideas)
- 5:30 – 6:00 TV time while I get dinner ready.
This routine is going to look different for every single family, but if you simplify your chunks of time by category, it will be easier to find something that works for your crew.
- Do something outside
- Do something educational (AKA homework)
- Do something fun
- Do something helpful
- Screen time
Adjusting the routine for you
So for us, doing something outside usually has to be going to a park, going to the playground or playing at the school yard, but for you it could be as simple as playing in the backyard. Oh, how I wish we had a backyard. For us, doing something fun is usually a board game or a puzzle, but it could also be painting, playdoh, stickers, creating an obstacle course, playing dress up — anything!
The beauty of this routine is it contains all of the things that need to be done while also incorporating the things the kids want to do also. A lot of times I’ll feel guilty about making the kids do homework or helping out with the chores, not because I don’t want them to have to work or take responsibility, but because they’re kids and I want them to have fun in their life. If we make sure to bookend a task with fun activities, I’m less likely to feel that way. With this routine, we’re alternating fun things with responsibilities and there’s more balance which makes everyone happier at the end of the day.
How does your after school routine look?
Rhianon Hoffman contributed this post. Rhianon is a mom of four young boys; Hudson (7), Wyatt (5), Amos (3), and Brooks (19 months). She loves to honestly share about the challenges of raising small children, funny observations, daily unfortunate mishaps, and creative ways to engage with your kids. She loves being as authentic and transparent as possible, and hopes to create an encouraging space in which readers can reflect and reimagine their identity as parents. Rhianon and her husband Seth live in Brooklyn, NY with their little dudes.