The homework, the activities, the bustling schedule – sometimes school days can feel like utter chaos. With only a few hours to juggle multiple tasks after the last bell rings, it’s easy for both parents and kids to feel rushed and stressed.
But experts believe creating a positive afterschool routine can support learning and development. A predictable afterschool schedule can reduce stress and promote a feeling of stability for your children while encouraging individual responsibility. By eliminating conflict and power struggles with parents, these routines allow for more quality family time and can help you keep your family happy.
Use these simple tips to organize your family’s afternoons and help kids foster a deeper love of learning:
1. Have a wholesome, warm snack ready
After a long day at school, kids need something to keep them fueled until dinner. Skip the chips and select wholesome baked snacks that are satisfying and easy to make. Farm Rich Mozzarella Bites are a people pleaser – just pop these bite-sized snacks of soft pizza dough filled with 100-percent real mozzarella cheese in the oven and a few minutes later you’ll have a warm, filling snack they’ll love. Add a little variety with Farm Rich Crispy Dill Pickles – these lightly breaded dill pickle slices will tickle their taste buds and warm them up on even the chilliest school days.
2. Keep kids hydrated
Whether kids are hitting the books or hitting the soccer field, make sure to have healthy drinks on hand. Our brains depend on proper hydration to function properly, according to Psychology Today, noting that dehydration can impair memory and make it difficult to pay attention. Keep young brains in top shape by giving your children a healthy drink option after school. Rather than sugar-laden soft drinks or juice, opt for good old H2O or jazz it up with sliced lemon and oranges.
3. Create a homework hub
While you may not remember having homework until middle school or later, students today are getting homework at much younger ages. Help keep kids of all ages focused by having a designated location for homework in the house. Whether it’s an office, a desk or simply the kitchen table, make sure the space is free of distractions. After snack time is over, stress to them that it’s time to finish homework early before other activities start.
4. Focus on physical activity
After sitting in school for the majority of the day, busy bodies will have an urge to move and groove. Allowing children to be physically active helps keep them healthy; plus activities with others – whether siblings, neighbors or teammates – promote social development and teamwork. Designating some time for physical activity and outdoor fun is a healthy part of an afterschool routine, just make sure they understand how long they can play so they don’t resist moving on to the next task. For kids who have an organized sport practice, save time by setting out uniforms and packing equipment the night prior so you can quickly grab and go without skipping a beat.
5. Write it down
If you’re finding it difficult to establish an afterschool routine, it may help young ones if you create a calendar or agenda for each child so they can reference it when they’re unsure of what to expect. For example, note that 3:30 p.m. is snack time in the kitchen. Then from 4 to 5 p.m. it’s time to do assignments in the homework hub – if there’s no homework that day, consider allowing your child to read or do crafts for the hour. At 5 p.m. it’s time to play outside for 30 minutes until the entire family sits down for dinner. The evening is then open for dance, football, piano lessons or simply quality time with family.
6. Relax and have fun!
It may sound simple, but scheduling time to relax and have fun with your children at night can help wipe away the stresses of the day in an instant. Reading a book together, telling jokes or playing a board game helps families bond and create happy memories that last a lifetime.
There will, of course, be times when families need to be flexible, but following an established routine whenever possible will help children learn, grow and stay healthy. Once the routine becomes second nature, both parents and kids can feel in control and, most importantly, everyone’s happy.