I decided to take a short break from my Leadership series to address a subject that is a gray area for school age kids. What do you and your children do with your time after they arrive home from school? Do you have a routine? I think it’s important that families have the freedom to do what they like with this time, but I also think it’s important to invest this time in the life of the child and the family in general.
Can you believe it’s already that time of year again?! Schools across the country are beginning their first day of school! And all the parents said, “Yahoo!!!”
I’ve seen some cute first day of school photos on social media in recent days. I’ve even seen some “before” first day of school and “after” first day of school photos! The after school photos are quite different than the morning ones! Most of the kids look absolutely drained!
Parents, now is the time to get a handle on what your child’s evening will look like once they are home from school. They are going to need a break once they get home, but that shouldn’t mean they sit in front of the T.V. or computer the rest of the evening.
By being too lazy or by over doing it, your child will be drained of all their energy. This will affect their health and education in the long run. Also, not all activities should cost your family an arm and a leg. You shouldn’t have to put yourself in debt in order to keep your child occupied.
It will be best and easier if you have a set routine for each night. Everyone will feel more relaxed and less stressed, because they will know what to expect each evening.
So let’s do a little brain storming here, as a team, and think about what your child’s routine will look for the next 9 months or so for after school home/family quality time.
- When your child arrives home, allow him/her relax for 30-60 minutes either playing outside, watching T.V./computer, or nap. This would also be a good time for a light snack and plenty of drinks of water too. (I have had so many parents tell me that their kids arrive home really thirsty!)
- A parent should help the child do their homework for 30-45 minutes, depending on how much help he/she needs. The other parent could be preparing dinner during this time. Parents can take turns with homework and meal prep. Or, if one parent feels strong in one area, maybe that’s what they focus on while the other parent focuses on the other area constantly.
- Dinner together at the table as a family. It’s important to have family reconnect time. It gives the child assurance of the unity at home. If you pray at your house, this could be a time of short prayer and reflection. If the child wants to say something, listen. If the child doesn’t like some of the food you serve, children’s preferences will not always be the same as the parents’ preferences. But you can explain to them why you prepared this food and why you think it’s important they eat it. Don’t let the kitchen become a “restaurant.” Children need to learn that it’s up to the parents to decide certain things, and we want to make sure our kids get all the nutrients they need. Chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese will not meet their dietary needs in the long run. (I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love both of those, but they are high in fat and full of carbs! We need a little more balance in our meals.)
- Let’s build a team work spirit within our children! Everyone should help clean up together after dinner. Someone can clear and wipe the table, load dishwasher or wash dishes. Sweep floor if needed. This is also a good time to build some responsibility with your child. Let your child(ren) know that if we let the dishes sit dirty in the sink, or leave the table unclean, nothing will be done by itself. Then tomorrow we would have double the work of today. So let’s stay on top of it today!
- Don’t forget to keep an eye on the homework, help your child finish it if needed, but don’t let him/her depend on you. At work we have to finish our work ourselves! So our kids need to do the same with their work!
(Side note: As I’m sure you know, kids sometimes forget to tell their parents when they have homework, so it would be a good idea to double check back packs to see what they brought home if they fail to tell or show you themselves. I recommend this for PK-5 students. Hopefully by Middle School and High school you can just verbally ask them if they have it done every night without going through their stuff.)
- Take some time out and relax! Even if only for a few minutes! You did a lot so far.
- It’s good to emphasize the importance of proper hygiene to your child, by bathing and wearing clean clothes. Brushing their teeth before and after bed. Hopefully this will stick with them for a lifetime.
- When your child gets ready for bed, lay out clothes for the next day.
- Reading time. Depending on the age of your child, use reading time to empower your child’s knowledge on various subjects.
- Place all electronic devices in the kitchen for the night. I know this is easier said than done, but teach the kids to disconnect by showing them that you are disconnecting your own electronics and have more face to face time.
- Child’s bed time. Give hugs and tell your kids how much you love them.
- Parents, after your child is in bed for the night, now is the time to reconnect together as a couple and enjoy your time or do some other work that needs to be done! (You guys can figure that out.)
- Parents try to go to bed around the same time each night. We adults need our sleep just as much as our kiddos!
If something unplanned comes up, then see how you can fit it in, and adjust accordingly. Be flexible parents! The examples we set for the kids are the inputs the kids will process and from them they will give back their output.
Let me know about your after school routine in the comments section!
I hope my ideas gave you some thoughts on how to plan things for after school time for your kids. I realize some of your kids might be in sports or other after school activities, so do what works best for you and your family.
Till next time, I hope you all have will have some great quality time after school !
Disclaimer: I’m an educator. If your child has special needs that don’t fit with the above ideas, please check with your health care provider for the best advice.
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