They’re on their way home. Let’s face it, most of us, one day or another, dreads when the kids come home from school. It’s loud, busy, messy, and disorganized. You’re still the same amazing Supermom ( or Dad) you were before they ran in like starving beasts, but now you’ve got to grind your feet in the ground, grab your wits, and think fast. Keeping them occupied after school can be a challenge, so here a few ideas to keep them busy, and to keep you in check.
Know They’re Coming, and Know It’s Gonna Get Hectic
Yup. They’re on their way, or maybe you’ve picked them up, and now it’s time for you to fly into action with a zillion answers and activities to keep them busy. But before all that Mom, start at ground zero. Know it’s going to be a little loud and chaotic. Mindset is everything. If we have an idea of what to expect, it won’y rock our boats so much.
Have A Plan
Kids love knowing what’s coming or what’s going to happen. So do parents. It not only helps structure the environment and the time, but it instills responsibility and ownership. You know your child best, so for each kid, create a list of after-school activities they can engage in and keep busy with for a while. If your children are young, use pictures as choices for activities. A few ideas for activities you can easily throw in there are heaping to prepare the after-school snack, learning how to tell time, which will become very useful and precious for you and to them later when you start blocking time for them and they can self-manage, emptying their snack bags and refilling with dry goods for the next day, and helping set the table for dinner. Kids love responsibility, so get these kinds of activities going early on. When you or little one needs a break after all this busy-ness, Head them towards the tub for a little rub-a-dub-dub. I used to put my kids in the bath when I needed to sit, decompress, and get my second wind.
Let Them Veg It Out
I’m not a huge proponent of letting my own, or anyone else’s, kids rot in front of the television, but like us, our kids have been “on” all day, having to remember proper school etiquette and decorum, and at the end of their day, they too need an outlet to zone out, and the key is to help them budget and manage their time in front of a screen. How we do this in our house, and I also tell my Parenting Clients to alternate the kids’ activities between screen and no screen. This teaches kids how to disengage, and transitions from one activity to another within an allotted period of time. It also helps teach them the value of all the other things out there besides screens, like being social, creative, and the outdoors.
Keeping the kids busy is a job in itself, but if you’re thoughtful about it, it can be win-win.