AFTER SCHOOL ROUTINES TO STOP THE STRESS
Thanks to our partner, Yummy Dino Buddies, for being today’s sponsor and helping me share these tips.
School is back in session, and with that comes all of the after-school activities. Becky and I are not ones to shy away from letting our kids learn new skills, take up new sports or try new activities, as long as it doesn’t interfere with family time. However, when the kids come home and they are grumpy, it can set our evening into a downward spiral.
Our #BackToRoutine is essential to making it all work with a family of six. When school started back, so did our routine. It keeps everyone happy, focused and relaxed. They know what is coming every day: Dinner, Homework, Activity, Family Time. There aren’t any surprises along the way.
We keep it as simple as we can since our list includes math problems, spelling practice, dinner, playing outside, football, lacrosse, reading, dance class, wrestling and building. In order to let all of our kids enjoy their hobbies, get their work done and still have family time, it means dinner has to be a priority.
What does NOT have to be a priority is trying to plan every meal perfectly and elaborately. With four young kids, we are happy to give up planning elaborate meals. Worrying about what to make is the last thing that we want to have to add to our list. When we find a meal that everyone likes… you can count on seeing it again. This smiling face (showing off the Yummy Dino Buddies dinosaur-shaped chicken nugget that she is snacking on while she’s practicing her spelling words) says it all…
HOW WE STOP THE AFTER SCHOOL MELTDOWNS and STRESS
1- ONE ACTIVITY PER CHILD.
Each of our children is allowed to pick one activity or sport per season. Yes, that means that we still have four things to go to, but I wouldn’t feel right not allowing them to do something because a sibling has already chosen.
2- EAT EARLY
If we know that the kids have sports and we won’t be able to eat together as a family unless we eat early… we eat early. In fact, we probably eat around 4:30 more than half of the days in the week for this reason. Family time is important to us, so we make it a priority. Eating early helps us stick to that and keeps it a priority. We just get dinner ready before the kids get home (makes it easier), so we can eat within a few minutes of everyone being home. So for example, today we had strawberries, snap peas and Yummy Dino Buddies dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets.
3- ELIMINATE MEALTIME STRESS
We eat dinner together almost every single night and that is important to us. In order to do this, we have to eliminate stressors and bring on convenience. We love Yummy Dino Buddies because they ensure that our long weekdays won’t turn into long weeknights once the kids get home.
We just grab one of the #YummyDinoBuddies products out of the freezer (our kids love the dinosaur-shaped nuggets to back to school-friendly alphabet-shaped nuggets) and put them into the oven or microwave. Since it is a nutritionally backed food, we feel good giving it to our kids (and eating them ourselves) They’re made with boneless, skinless white chicken breast meat and are packed with protein and Omega-3. And, since they’ll go from the freezer to the dinner table in minutes, Dino Buddies make mealtime less stressful – and a lot more fun. Plus, Yummy Dino Buddies comes in 5 kid-approved varieties: Dinosaur-Shaped Chicken Breast Nuggets, Alphabet-Shaped Chicken Breast Nuggets, Chicken Breast Mini Nuggets, Chicken Breast Mini Fries, Maple Waffle Chicken Breast Nuggets
4- WORK BEFORE PLAY.
Homework comes first. If we put it off until later in the day, it takes so much longer. We like to give them about 20 minutes to just come home and relax before we start on the evening and the routine of homework, dinner, packing lunches for the next day and activities. If you always keep homework as an after-school activity and not a before-bed activity, your kids will begin to expect it and they will not complain.
5 – DON’T EXPECT SO MUCH TOO SOON
When our kids come home from school, they do not want to be bombarded with questions. Becky and I have found that if we can hold off on the “how was your day?” questions until bedtime, we are going to hear a whole lot more than if we pushed it at 4:30 every afternoon. The kids are exhausted, physically and emotionally after school. They don’t want to rehash their day as soon as they get home. They probably want to relax… or play!
However, when you put them to bed at night and they are not ready to fall asleep, just hang around and talk. The details of the day will come pouring out.
The most important thing to remember is that this time doesn’t last forever. One day they will be grown. Eliminate the stress where you can and have fun to spend time with your family.