If just making it out the door on time each school day is wearing you out, you will love these tips to help you survive the after school rush! Fitting in homework, extracurricular activities, appointments, dinner and bath in only a few hours before bedtime won’t seem so impossible!
If you haven’t yet checked out my tips to make it out the door on time with your sanity still in check, go to this very helpful post!
Now that you have made it through the school day, it seems like a cruel joke that our busiest part of the day will be between the hours of 3pm and 8pm! In those precious hours, we are expected to get a multitude of things done. And in that chaos, all too often we lose sight of simple quality time with our kids. I wanted to change that so here’s how we manage it each week.
1. Don’t overschedule extracurricular activities! I will probably get some pushback on this and I’m ok with that. But growing up in a small town, my extracurricular activities consisted of riding my bike, playing with friends, and pretending I was a rock star! And I went on to graduate summa cum laude and earn my Masters.
So what I’m saying here is we have to be careful that we don’t push so many expectations on our young impressionable children. The goal of childhood is to be a child! Remember the saying, Play is the Work of Children. Yes, it’s important that they are learning new things and it’s okay to sign up for activities that allow them to explore different areas.
But I really try to limit the girls to one activity. So if they choose gymnastics, then that is it. We don’t also do soccer, swim team and dance. If your family can manage that kind of schedule happily, then by all means keep up what works. But if you are finding yourself too stressed to even enjoy these activities, it may be time to reevaluate.
2. Do SOME homework every day. When my older daughter comes home on Monday, she has a packet that has to be turned in on Friday. Initially I tried to make her do the entire packet on Monday. This was stressful for her because she had been at school all day and then I had her sit down for another hour and simply work. But what I realized is that doing a little homework each (or most) days allows her to reinforce what she is learning at school in a much more constructive way.
3. Distract younger siblings during homework time by giving them their own “homework.” It’s hard to help your school-aged child with homework when there is a younger sibling vying for all of your attention. I struggled with this the first month or so during Kindergarten until I came upon a simple fix. On Monday, when my daughter brings her homework packet home, I immediately go to the copier and make a complete copy of everything. I staple it together as if it is homework for my preschooler and she “works” on her homework, allowing me to spend some time with my elementary age child.
4. Stock some quick and easy snacks in both the fridge and the pantry. My girls know there is a container in our pantry and a drawer in the fridge that they can pull from basically any time. There are raisins, yogurts, cheese sticks, granola bars and applesauce. This is a great way to give the kids a little pick me up on those busy afternoons.
5. If possible, avoid routine appointments on a Monday. The reasons for this are two fold…One, most doctors’ offices are flooded with weekend emergency calls on a Monday and this makes them run behind for most of that day. Two, I have found that if we can spend Monday at home and get a good start on our homework it really sets a positive tone for the whole week.
6. Have a plan for dinner! Note I did not say have an elaborate plan! Having a hot meal on the table during the school week is an ongoing struggle for most families I would imagine. I used to beat myself up for not having a gourmet meal each night until I realized two things – one, my kids don’t usually love those meals anyway and two, my family is much happier when I allow myself some leeway and make dinner easier on us all.
7. Most importantly, and above all else, carve out at least 15 minutes a night with each of your children for some one on one quality time. Amidst the rush of homework, activities and dinner, it is easy to forget the reason or reasons we are doing all of this – our children. So if no homework got done, your kids ate pb&j sandwiches for dinner, and everyone skipped baths, cut yourself some slack, snuggle up with your kids and read a book or two or play a quick game. As they go to bed tonight, that is what they will remember.