We have an after school schedule we follow every day – and it makes our life so much simpler!
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. It all can quickly drive mom insane!
The trick is to create an effective after school schedule, or 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. That means 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. This way 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. However, they are eating something which I say is OK.
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. They also must put away clean clothes. I also have them help with other small 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. There are times when the kitchen table works better. When that happens, we turn off the television so that it is quiet and they can concentrate and quickly get their work done.
While they do go to bed when we tell them to, they don’t always like it. Our kids love to read before bedtime. That means we head up the stairs at 8:10 so that they can go to the bathroom and brush their teeth. They each climb into bed and can read for up to 15 minutes. Then, at 8:30, it is kisses, hugs and lights out. Our oldest stays up until 9 pm, so she does the same thing, but heads up the stairs at about 8:45.
Of course, if you are mom who works out of the home, you will have to make adjustments. You may not even 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.
While this is all great, it is good to help teach your kids how to do this themselves. My kids are very visual. They will do everything they see on a sign or a list much more frequently than they do if they have to remember on their own (or even if mom has to tell them).
For this reason, I created a printable after school checklist. It is a simple way for them to remember what they need to do when they get home from school. We have ours hanging up in our pantry. They see it and reminded every day when they grab their snack.
I’ve gone ahead and included this free printable for all of you as well! Just click on the image below to get yours!!
It really makes our afternoons so much better! Here are ways to help ensure your own kids use this checklist:
- Laminate and attach it to the refrigerator with magnets.
- Put it in a photo frame and use a dry erase marker for them to check it off daily.
- Print out copies and give them a new one to use every single day (I’d print in black and white to save money on printer ink).
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)!!