Feb. 7, 2022

Ask Margaret - What Kind of After-School Routine Should I Be Following?

We picture after school as a time to reunite with our kids and discuss the day, maybe over some homemade cookies. In reality it’s more like wrangling a bunch of escaped zoo creatures. How can we create a routine that serves everyone in our homes?

Are the after school hours intense ones at your house? Whether you have pre-schoolers or high-schoolers you can probably relate to this question from Patti:

"Can we talk about after school routines? When my mom was a child she and her siblings had afternoon tea and cake with their mom every day after school. When my kids get home in the afternoon it’s like a bunch of wild animals just escaped from the zoo. I can’t commit to a routine. Play outside first? Have screen time to unwind? How can I make this time of day less hellish for me and more peaceful for everyone?"

Just like kids aren't "one size fits all," after-school routines have to be designed to fit your child. But a simple rule that should work for most kids is "food first." Greet your kids with a snack if possible, or lay one out ahead of time. While a frozen pizza from the microwave isn't as Pinterest-worthy as a tray of fresh cookies next to a chalkboard with Welcome Home! written on it, the aim here is to feed your kids, not to be perfect and presentational.

Margaret is a big fan of down time after school and says it is perfectly fine if that time involves screens. For some kids playing outside may be a better choice, and for others, after-school activities may eat up so much time that homework needs to be prioritized as soon as they do get home.

The big picture here is that most kids do better with some structure to their after-school routines. If the after school hours at your house feel out of control, start small. Add a snack, implement a simple schedule, and see how it works for your family– and then make adjustments as necessary. It's worth putting some effort into defining what works for your, but as a guiding principle, well-fed kids who have a little time to decompress will probably be easier to deal with for the rest of the night.

Margaret cites this article in this episode:

Bianca Lambert for Romper: How Hair Care Became the Ultimate Bonding Experience for Kyla Pratt and her Daughters

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