After School Routine
I had always heard that when kids started elementary school, life got busier. I didn’t have any idea how that could be true. But somehow– between the waking up early, rushing to get to the school on time, the shuffle to let him unwind while still getting homework done, activities accomplished, and last-minute errands run before starting dinner and the bedtime routine– life got busier!
I decided what we needed to calm the crazy a little bit was a solid after school routine. Routines and habits have worked so well for us to managing our energy and expectation, it seemed like a no-fail solution to making our school days a little easier. So, we put a simple after-school routine in place, and so far it’s been a great way to transition into the evening.
First thing when they walk in the door from school, I get the kids an after school snack. I usually grab them something simple and pair it with a fruit or veggie for some balance. Some of my favorites are Pirate’s Booty, toast with jam, cheese sticks, Fig Bars, or a new favorite these Jif Peanut Butter Bars. We’ve always been fans of peanut butter, and being able to give them some in a bar, layered with granola, and in some cases topped with chocolate is pretty awesome. Each bar has 7-8 grams of protein, so they stay full until dinner is ready, making my life so much easier!
After their snack, I send them to play for an hour. Either outside in the back yard to run and dig and swing out their wiggles, or to the playroom where they build Legos and create imaginary worlds.
Next they pull out their homework or a craft project to work on at the counter while I make dinner. Having this time all together cues my dinner time routine, and makes it easier to stay on track for the rest of the evening until bedtime.
When dinner is ready, the boys help set the table, and we all sit down to eat together. Having a family dinner each night is such a central piece of our routine, and even when it’s crazy–which often is–I love the conversations that ensue. Tonight Milo asked me all about my grandmother who passed away about ten years ago. Sharing stories about her with my kids was such a sweet moment!
Once dinner is over, the bedtime routine begins. Hallelujah! And then when the kids are all in bed, mama takes some much needed time to lay on the couch, or the hammock, and relax (before digging into the laundry, dishes, and making lunches for the next day.)
Of course, of course, not every single day plays out exactly like this. Sometimes we have play dates. On occasion I save an errand or two for the witching hour to get us out of the house. And once in a while we toss the whole routine out the window and go out to the park, drive through for burgers, and stay up late watching movies. But it always helps to have a great, basic routine to fall back on and guide our decisions. The kids and I all appreciate the rhythm, and life stays happier with a little bit of order.