There is a lot of great information out there to help make your morning routine go more smoothly (we’ve even got one HERE). However, what about after school? The kids come bursting through the door and seems that chaos begins. There are shoes, backpacks, homework, snacks…..and and can quickly drive mom insane!
The trick is to create a routine. When you have a routine, everyone knows what to do and can help keep a good rhythm running in your house. Of course, you may need to tailor this to each child, depending up on age an maturity. Even my own kids are different and so the way I run our routine differs a bit for each of them.
No matter your child’s age, there are things each of them can do. For us it is simple, they have 3 things they need to do the minute they walk into the door:
- Place your backpack where it belongs. For us it is the bench in the entryway, so that I can go through them to get out papers and things I need. As they get older, they will have to take out those things and then hang it up.
- Place your shoes next to the bench so they are ready for the next day. We don’t have our kids put tennies in their rooms during the week. This is one thing we do right away, which helps us the following day!
- Grab a snack. We have a snack basket, filled with “mom approved” snacks, for them to tackle. This helps mom by not having to take the time to get them a snack, while making sure they are eating something which I say is OK (I will post more about a snack basket soon).
Once these things are done, I allow my kids at least 30 minutes of free time. That can be playing with toys, watching a TV show or playing with an electronic. My oldest has Karate, which runs on a set schedule. This is part of her routine and she knows that she has to put her uniform on at 5 pm on those evenings, so we can get out the door shortly after Dad gets home.
After they have their free time, they have to do their chores. These are simple things such as picking up their rooms (as needed), putting away the clean clothes on their bed or helping mom with other little tasks. We want our kids to know that they have to contribute to running our household – mom is not here to serve them.
We have dinner between 5:30 and 6:00 pm every night. Part of our routine is 3 kids – so 3 chores. We rotate between: setting the table, clearing the table and loading the dishwasher. They know that Mom (or sometimes Dad) cooks the meal and they have to be a part of that in some way. By having dinner a bit earlier, we are alway done with it all by 6:30 pm, which allows time for other tasks.
If your children bring homework home with them, a good time to do this is right after dinner is done and the dishes are washed. They’ve already had their “down time” so they can now focus on homework and studies. We have our kids do this in their rooms, where it is quiet and they can focus. Of course, there are times when the kitchen table works better, so we just turn off the television so that it is quiet and they can concentrate and quickly get their work done.
Bath time is another things our kids do every night. A bath helps them relax and washes off all of that dirt and grime they’ve picked up on the school bus and playground. We usually try to do baths by 7:00 each evening. This again, gives our kids a chance to have a few more minutes of playtime before they hear the “B” word — BEDTIME!!!
While they do go to bed when we tell them to, they don’t always like it. Our youngest kids still love a story at bedtime. For that reason, they have to head up to bed at 7:45 so they can go to the bathroom, brush their teeth and have time for that story. It is lights out at 8 pm. Our oldest is allowed to stay up until 9 pm, but we have her go up a few minutes early so that she too can brush her teeth before climbing into bed.
Of course, if you are mom who works out of the home, you will have to make adjustments as you may not walk through the door with everyone until 5:30. If you find you get home a bit later, you can just pick up from dinnertime noted above through bedtime. You can have your kids do their chores while you are fixing dinner, so that once you are through eating, you can move into homework, baths and bed.
Whatever you do, try to set a regular routine for your kids. They need to know what comes next and it really helps reduce stress (and even tears)!