The new school year means a new chance to create an after school routine. Every day little guy and I head outside to wait for the big, yellow school bus. We are super lucky that the stop is in front of our house. It is extra awesome that there are about 11 families that use our stop. So it basically means a giant playdate in my yard and driveway each afternoon.
Little guy eagerly waves at the bus, and all the kids come tumbling down the steps. This usually turns into kids running everywhere and asking who’s house they can play at that afternoon. It also means every parent reminds their child that they have their afternoon routine to get through.
If the weather is super awesome, or in the winter if darkness comes way to soon, we may choose to delay the ultimate after school routine. It has taken many years of adjustment trying to figure out what works best for our family. And honestly each year the after school routine changes a bit. But so far this years’ is the best so I am excited to share with you!
1. Get the kids inside
Like I said, since our house is at the bus stop it is hard to get them inside. But once I do, the backpacks are tossed on the ground, the baby is crawling everywhere, the dog and cat are running around, and there is lots of talking.
All of this can make my head spin, but I try not to start yelling “Pick up your backpack” or “Start your afternoon routine.” Often there is something that happened which they can’t wait to talk about, or the opposite occurs and there is radio silence. Both are okay.
2. Feed them!
School schedules are crazy and this year my one child eats at 10:20 in the morning.
This means they come home hungry and cranky. I know personally I become hangry when I don’t eat, I think my kids are the same way.
Although they won’t admit it, they are much more pleasant with a full tummy. I encourage a snack with some protein and carbs, for some quick energy and to sustain their energy.
Breakfast cookies, now after school cookies, can be a great option.
3. Chill out time
We are lucky enough to have lots of friends in the neighborhood. I really believe in letting kids run around after a very long day at school. Recess has been cut so short in our district, our kids just need to get up and move. Plus all the benefits of getting kids moving really helps with concentration for school work. So it’s playdates at rotating houses for about 45 minutes.
4. Unpack backpack and complete homework
So it’s time to tackle school paperwork and homework. In our county there is minimal homework, as the belief is that after a long day of school work kids should have time for other activities. With that being said there is always reading and usually a small number of math problems. For older kids studying for quizzes and tests occurs as well.
We have a basket for each child where important papers are placed. These are items to be signed and any work samples I would like to save. We have several homework stations throughout the house that are stocked with needed supplies. Read this article to see why multiple stations may be beneficial to your child.
5. Chore cards
Finally they have to complete one chore before earning free time. We have tried many chore charts. They never work for long. So this summer I came up with chore cards. On each card is written a different chore, and each child gets seven for the week. They can choose which they want to complete each day. At the end of the week my two oldest switch piles for the upcoming week. This has eliminated me having to yell about helping around the house. They know if it doesn’t happen, then electronics are not an option. And that is really motivating.
I hope this ultimate after school routine helps to get your family on track for more peaceful afternoons. Less yelling and more talking is always a good thing!