Homework. Mealtime. Sports practices and music lessons. The time between the end-of-school bell and when your head hits the pillow for the night can be chaotic and stressful. But with a bit of planning, you can make the afternoon and evening go more smoothly.
Thinking ahead early in the day yields benefits come afternoon. Before school, gather (or have your children gather) sports equipment, instruments and other supplies they need for after-school activities. Lay out any clothes they will need to change into. You can even load up the car with any items that will be traveling with you to activities.
Create Re-entry Space
Facilitate post-school re-entry at home by creating spaces for unloading school items such as papers, backpacks and lunchboxes. Instruct your children to take care of these as soon as they walk in the door. This will diminish the feeling of chaos and prevent losing or forgetting permission slips and other school documents.
Reset by Resting
Factor in some down time – for your kids and for yourself. Cuddle on the couch, chat at the counter over snacks, or zone out in bed to your favorite music. Even 10 minutes of doing nothing can help reduce feelings of being harried.
Keep quick and healthy snacks on hand – baby carrots, apples, trail mix or string cheese. The easier to grab on-the-go, the better. For the extra busy days, stash beef jerky, snack bars, rice cakes or other non-perishable goodies in your car’s glove box. You’ll all feel better when you’re not running on empty.
Having multiple kids in different activities can add complexity to the after-school schedule. When possible, enlist other moms and dads to be part of a carpool. Divvying up driving duties may take some coordinating to start, but it’s worth it to maintain your sanity in the long run.
When it comes down to it, we all have busy days for a reason – there is so much we want our kids to experience. But nothing replaces the experience of having a parent who is there for them.