Our first day of school was last week (in case you missed my dramatic video) and, whoa, was I in for a surprise! The boys came home hangry, dumping empty bags here, folders there, uniforms on the floor and shoving food in their mouths from the fridge and pantry. We were fighting about every. single. thing!
It took several days, but I think I have a simple after school routine now that curbs the hangry and reins in the messes.
I pick the boys up in my minivan from the bus stop. (Don’t ask.) This is Adri’s first year in all-day school, so everything is new and naturally he is exhausted. The first day, he opened his backpack because he was so excited to show me everything. He emptied it out on the van floor and papers flew everywhere. Luca flung his shoes off and literally took off his polo shirt. Yeah.
So though I’m not naturally a routine kind of person, I think we need something here! And things are going a lot smoother now that they know what to expect. Here’s what’s working for us:
1. Put sneakers in the bin.
So looks like we have to start at square one! Leave your shoes on until you’re home and put them in the bin by the door.
2. Uniforms go in the laundry basket.
Keep your clothes on until we get home ;) Changing into play clothes is fine, but don’t throw clothes on the floor. Thanks.
3. Put lunches and water bottles on the counter.
The boys need to put their own lunch stuff in the kitchen.
4. Snack time!
These boys are HUNGRY when they get home! I make a giant snack instead of letting them loose in the kitchen. The first couple days they raided the pantry and fridge, getting random things, making a million messes and shoving their faces right there in the kitchen. It was impressive.
One trick is that kids will eat healthy foods when they come home because they are so hungry. So while the kids are changing and putting their things up, I’m piling up the snacks on three plates. Serving everything at once helps stop more fridge openings, the alway irritating “I’m hungry,” and more dirty plates.
I tell them they have to go sit at their spot at the bar and wait. Otherwise with three it’s just chaos! Yesterday I served up cherries, bananas, English muffins, raisins and cheese. What am I going to do when they’re teenagers?
By the way, I’ve come up with a drawer in the fridge and a basket in the pantry that are OFF LIMITS for kids (and dad). They are only for school lunches, not random snacks. Otherwise I go to make lunches and they are already tired of something or there’s nothing left!
5. What was your low/high today?
While they’re eating (or sometime in here) I like to ask each child what the low point in their day was to start a conversation. And of course the high point too! I purposely ask them the low point first so we can end on the happy note.
I did this all of last year with Luca on the way home from the bus stop and it’s amazing how much you learn with this little game that you wouldn’t hear otherwise.
6. Color-coded cups
If you have multiple kids, color-coded cups cuts back on having 100 cups by sink at the end of the day. It hopefully cuts back on cup sharing and spreading school germs too. I find that often they haven’t drank enough water at school, so I try to remember to give them a tall glass full.
7. Free play
I’m giving them until 4 o’clock (about 45 minutes) to play or relax and get their wiggles out. Here they’re playing bus driver and students. Let’s all be worried because Luca is driving.
My kids are only in kindergarten and second grade, so I still have to be right beside them for homework. After polling mom friends and experimenting myself, it seems to work best to have them do homework pretty soon after they come home.
My oldest fought me on doing it right away, so I know I need to keep this as a rule — 4 o’clock is homework time. Then the rest of the afternoon and evening is free and it’s not hanging over our heads.
If they’re having a wild day and can’t seem to calm down or say unkind words to each other, I’ll do this behavior chart. If they’re on great or extraordinary at the end of the day, they can have dessert after dinner or another treat. It gets tricky if two make it and one doesn’t, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles. (See what I did there?) They’ll remember next time that Mama means it.
9. Backpack station
When we moved I was thinking of a mudroom type of drop zone, but this is all we really need right now. I found this simple rack with paper slot on clearance for $10 at Ross and it works great. They each have a folder in it.
10. And back to being wild and crazy kids.
So by 4:30 or so they’re playing again. Just in time for me to start thinking about dinner. Yikes. Are my kids the only ones hungry by 5:30?
What about you? Do you have an after school routine? How do you prep for your day? I need to know.
Here’s the dramatic/ridiculous video I was talking about ;)