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With my littlest starting school this year I have been reminded of the amazingly important and life changing role I can play in helping my him adjust and succeed.
I am not being dramatic — for his little life, it really is life changing!
I was told often as a Kindergarten teacher that my little students were going home absolutely exhausted. They were tired and whiney and irritable. I felt awful. I knew I was doing everything possible in the classroom to give those little ones a peaceful day. They were getting lots of outside play, free play, quiet time, and structured activities – all rotated appropriately. But the reality is, whether full day or half day, Kindergarten can be exhausting for little ones.
They are around oodles of people all day long and busy, busy, busy! Even though almost all of my little students loved school, they were still going home exhausted.
This is where the life changing role I, as a Mama, get to play. During the day my little one surely has a blast and loads of fun times. He also likely saw an injustice or two occur, had to deal with a child not sharing or yelling, and had other unpleasantries that accompanied his day. This coupled with the shear tiredness from such a full day is a recipe for a very difficult afternoon and evening.
I really want (no — need) to enjoy that time with my little ones. I don’t want to be spending my time disciplining or feeling frustrated with their behaviour. Instead, I have recognised a very simple thing through out my 15 years as a Mom.
After school, my little ones are simply not at their best. I choose to set up our home in a way that they will be calm and successful. In a way that they feel their home is their sanctuary. They are safe to unwind and recharge and get ready for another full fun day tomorrow.
The result is amazing. My kids come home knowing what to expect. Knowing they will have exactly what they need to be successful.
Tantrums and meltdowns are all but extinguished. Sure, it is more work for me – but it means I get to truly enjoy my time with my kids.
Completely worth it.
Today I thought I would share with you some of the ways I choose to set up our home that ease the afterschool transition and keep us smooth sailing right through until bedtime. I hope an idea or two resonates with you as well.
- After School Snack
As soon as my little ones get home we have a healthy after school snack. Sometimes lunch was eaten all during first recess. Sometimes it was not touched all day. The first thing I do is make sure those little tummies are full. It also gives us a great chance to settle in and chat about the day.
2. Quiet Independent Play
This one might be a bit counter intuitive. I am saying how much I missed my little ones and how I want to enjoy my time with them – and then I say they go off to play alone? But they do. Often not for long, but to think of being around people every minute of the day with never a second alone? Everyone needs alone time. Sometimes my boys choose to stay in the same room as me but get a quiet activity out. We often head outside to do our own things. I always have quiet activities available – as you likely know!
One great quiet time idea is using Quiet Bins. We use them all the time – perfect for calming little ones after school.
3. Prepare Dinner Ahead of Time
This year I am working part-time in the classroom and the rest of the time I am working from home. This gives me a lot of flexibility in preparing meals in the afternoons or the evenings. While I know this is a lot of work I SWEAR by it. The moment I have something that I need to do in the evening – such as make dinner – is the moment all heck will break loose for my little ones. I try really hard to prep all veggies ahead of time so I just need to pop them into a pan or pot or the oven.
I will also write a post all about meal planning soon, as it not only saves a ton of money – it also saves this Mama’s sanity and keeps us healthy.
4. Yoga or a Night Time Walk
Transitioning from dinner to getting ready for bed is always a challenge. We often head outside for a night time walk before getting ready for bed. One thing I have done recently that has helped a lot is doing some yoga with the kids. Yoga is a fabulous way to quiet minds and help us to unwind and settle. We found this fabulous Yoga Mat from Teach My which shows simple positions for some kid style yoga. It let’s them wind down and have a few more minutes to stretch out those muscles before getting into jammies and brusing teeth.
This Yoga mat is really neat because it doubles as an active learning mat! It comes with a magnetic fishing pole and allows little ones the chance to actively learn letters, numbers, and colours too.
5. Bedtime Stories
My little ones are in their bedrooms and all ready for bed about 45 minutes or so before their bedtimes. I have found that giving them lots of time for snuggling and bedtime stories is a sure fire way to get them settled and ready for bed. It is also my very favourite part of the day.
Since I have more than one little one heading to bed at about the same time, I have started to do family story times. We all snuggle together and read, or often listen to an audio story from Around the World Stories. I wrote to you before about Around the World Stories and what a fabulous company and idea I thought it was. And I still do!
We snuggle together each night and travel to a different country to learn all about our wonderful world. The stories are exciting and engaging, but never frightening or too stimulating for just before bed. A beautiful way to end our nights! I love that my little ones are still learning at home too.
6. Calming Lotions
Just before bed my little ones choose a special lotion or salve that they would like to wear before going to bed. Fabula Nebulae has the absolute best aromatherapy slaves and balms with natural and healing ingredients. We love Monsters – Away!, Sleep and Rest for Little ones, and Bumble Fairy Sun Dust. A little rubbed onto arms, backs, and cheeks and those little ones of mine are out like a light. The scents are all so light and relaxing. I might love this part of our bedtime routine more than anyone else. I could smell those little cheeks all night long!
Monsters – Away! as well as Bumble Fairy Sleep Dust are also great scents to rub on little hands in the morning as they help to calm jitters as well as create some cheer.
Creating a peaceful and relaxing home base for my little ones is so important to me. Now that I have a teenager I realise how fast the years fly by! I want to look back and know I really enjoyed every ounce of their childhoods. Setting up a calming after school environment is one way I can ensure I do exactly that.
I hope you have found an idea or two that might help you and your little ones ease the after school to bedtime journey too. Thank you so much for reading friends. I hope you have a wonderful day!