Moms of school age kiddos – I know you feel me on this one: the after school time can be total and utter chaos. Back packs and papers are flying, lunchboxes packed with whatever they didn’t finish eating are spread all over the counter, the crankiness of being on their best behavior all day is in full effect, and demands for some kind of snack are being made. It can be so overwhelming that it can send the rest of the afternoon on a very fast downhill slide.
Today that changes!
With a few helpful tips and one awesome printable, you’ll eliminate the after school chaos and turn it into quality time you can spend with your children.
1. Set up a dedicated space for backpacks.
Ever try to find a lost backpack as you’re rushing around trying to make it our the door in the morning? It’s the pits and surely doesn’t make for a great start to your day. The key to avoiding pulling your hair out is to set up a spot where backpacks always go, no matter what. Help your kids get into the routine of always placing their bags in the same location everyday, whether its by a specific door, in their rooms, or on a hook in a closet. Find the place that will work best for your family and stick to it.
If you’re of the DIY type, my friend Elisha at Pneumatic Addict just posted some sweet plans for a back pack command center.
2. Make a routine for paperwork.
I have a love/hate relationship with backpacks. While they are so super useful, they end up becoming a deep, dark abyss of old school work, crumpled paperwork, and sand. So. Much. Sand. I have my kids put every paper and item from their bags on the kitchen counter when they get home. While they are hanging up their back packs in our designated spot, I start handling it all. I save all of the artwork to be photographed for their albums, sign any papers that need to be returned, and purge all of the remaining things that aren’t worth keeping. If I get it done right then, I don’t end up with a giant stack to deal with at a later date. You know, when it starts to overwhelm your counters or desk space. Not that I would know from experience or anything…
3. Simplify snacks.
You know what I find funny? The same kids that chose not to finish every bite of their well-packed lunch morph into ravenous wolves the second they step in our door. Reagan would happily become the Tasmanian Devil in our pantry each afternoon if I left her, with no food left in sight. That just isn’t going to fly in my home.
I’ve set up a space in our pantry and in our fridge where they can find the acceptable snacks. I like to keep things pretty healthy because we’re usually jetting off to some practice or activity and I know they’ll need the fuel, but offer what works best for your family. Maybe if your little have a great day they get a cookie or maybe you want to limit it to just fruits and vegetables. Either way works; just make sure you let your kids know what their options are ahead of time.
4. Set expectations…and stick to them.
This is where my ever-present checklists come in handy. Because I’ve got their after school tasks listed out for them, my kids never have to wonder what’s going to be expected for them to do when they get home.
I’ve created two different versions of the checklists to help you out, too. The first one has basic after school tasks already filled in for you and the other version is completely blank so you can start your list from scratch.
Download Blank Checklist Here: Afternoon Routine Blank Checklist
Download Standard Checklist Here: Afternoon Routine Checklist
I like to have ours printed onto nice, heavy card stock and laminated so they last a good chunk of time. Dry erase markers work perfectly to check off completed tasks and wipe clean at the end of the week.
5. Reward good behavior.
Now, rewards are something very personal to each family, so take this advice with a grain of salt, but I’ve not seen anything motivate my kids more than having something to look forward to. In our home, when their checklists are completed without argument, they get to clip up (Not sure what that means? Check out my discipline post to get the details.). No candy or yummy treats, no toys or knick knacks, not even money; we’ve chosen to reward their positive behavior after school the same way that we reward any other positive behavior.
There you have it: five simple steps to make the school to home transition much less painful this school year. Do you do anything different that you’ve found that works for your family?
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