7 Tips for Surviving "After School" with Kids

The stress of managing after school snacks, homework, supper, extra curricular activities, and bedtime routines can be enough to send parents to the brink of insanity. September always leaves me feeling anxious and overwhelmed. Today, I am sharing a few tips that I find helpful this time of year.

1) Don't over-schedule your family -- This is tough for me because I have three boys that want to be in everything! However... in order to cope, children and parents need to work together to choose extra curricular activities and a schedule that is manageable.

2) Use a family calendar -- I could not function without the calendar on the inside of my kitchen cupboard. I use it to record everything I need to know about the schedules of everyone in my family – including appointments, gym days, theme days at school, meetings, extra-curricular activities, family birthdays, vacation plans, work deadlines, and more. I would be absolutely lost without the ability to glance at my calendar every morning and see the day’s agenda.

3) Plan weeknight meals -- I like to plan a weeks worth of meals and do most of my shopping on Sunday. I also use my slow cooker, prep meals in the morning, and have things in the freezer for the really busy nights.

4) Pack a bag of healthy snacks and water  -- I like to pack almonds, fruit, cheese strings, sandwiches, and yogurt tubes. Everyone is in better cheer with a full belly, and there is no temptation to grab fast food or over-priced junk out of a vending machine.

5) Use “Ready to Go” bags -- Pack bags containing everything needed for particular activities. For example, after every swimming lesson, I wash my boys’ bathing suits and towels and put them right back into the “swim bag”. This way, I am not scrambling to find things every time we head out the door.

6) Do homework "on the go" -- Packing homework and books is also helpful, especially when children are being dragged to the activities of their siblings. Getting homework done before supper makes life a lot easier.

7) Make sure everyone gets enough sleep -- It is sometimes a struggle, but I try very hard to adhere to strict and consistent bed times. It has been my experience that well rested children are much easier to get along with.

Trying to get back into a routine this time of year can be really tough, but investing time getting organized can really pay off. Do you have any tips for taming the after-school chaos? I can use all the help I can get!

Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

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