Being a Mom is hard work! And being a first time mom to a first grader, and a preschooler seems impossible most days, there just is not enough time in the day, at least for me, it sometimes seems like every other mom out there has a good handle on things! I guess that is why we are blessed with moms that came before us! Check out this article written by Wendy Fanello on managing after school time!
We’ve all been there. The kids get home from school, they’re hungry/tired/crabby, and there are a million different things that still need to be accomplished. It reminds me of that magical time before dinner (which we affectionately called the “witching hour”), when my girls as toddlers would melt down. I could predict it and plan for it, but could rarely prevent it. Now that school is back in full swing, I’m asking myself what I, and we as a family, can do to help make this not only a less stressful time of transition, but maybe even—dare I say---an enjoyable one?
Food. First and foremost, I feed them. It’s quite often been several hours since they’ve eaten, and they’re “starving!!” This one’s a balancing act, because my 9 year old gets home from school at 3:30, but my new middle-schooler doesn’t get home until 4:15. I want them to have a snack, but still want them to be hungry at dinnertime. I’ve discovered that if I have a plate of food literally sitting on the counter when my oldest gets home, it takes away her need to complain about how hungry she is. They’re often so hungry that I can put out something healthy and they’ll eat it. I usually start with a plate of veggies like sliced cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, carrot sticks, celery, etc., then add a little protein and some fiber. This might be a piece of cheese with some almonds, or perhaps a toasted English muffin with some peanut butter.
Down time. If humanly possible, I try and give my kids some down time right when they get home from school. Sometimes this might only be 20 minutes, but at least it’s a few minutes to let their bodies rest and their brains shut off. They might lie down and listen to some music, read a book or a magazine, go play outside with the neighbors, or even (gasp!) turn the TV on for a little while.
Homework. Depending on the workload, I usually have them get started on their homework before dinner. If they have just a little bit, then I let them choose if they want to finish it beforehand, or if they’d like to do it after we eat. Also, I’ve found that it helps if they work on it at the kitchen table while I’m fixing dinner, and that way we can still chat about their day. It seems like that way, they don’t feel like they’ve been isolated in another room.
Activities. Here’s where it can get difficult, depending on what your family has scheduled. Both of my girls play soccer, and they both have practice a minimum of twice a week with their games on Saturday. We do try and carpool to practice, which helps when only one of them has to go somewhere. The downtime before an activity really helps my kids with this transition, because believe me, after a long day at school, sometimes the very last thing they want to do is get their uniform on and head out to practice. Lastly, while this is easier said than done, we try and have the kids scheduled in only one activity at a time.
None of this is earthshattering news, and you’ve probably heard it before, but I’ve found that if we consistently develop and practice these habits it does help. At least a little.
Wendy Fanello is a mother of two daughters, ages 9 and 11. When she’s not running the kids around to soccer and fixing their snacks, she writes for an ultrasound website. Read more of her work at http://www.ultrasoundschoolsinfo.com/taking-care-of-yourself-during-pregnancy/.