I swear that walking in the door after school sometimes feels soul-crushing.
To my credit, no family members were harmed in the making of this blog post.
Admittedly, their lives were saved only because I showed a superhuman level of restraint.
(Seriously, y'all. Superhuman. Also, ignore the unmade bed in the photo. Just keeping it real for my Loyal Readers!)
After school, the kids need a snack, to finish homework, to do chores, and to get ready for any evening activities. My husband has one or two outfits that must go in the laundry most days. I have to start dinner, finish up my own work (interrupted by a 2:30 carpool pick-up), and sign all the school paperwork.
I do have a few tricks up my sleeve, though, and when I use them consistently, the witching hour goes much smoother.
Let them eat cake.
If there is one time when a bit of junk food is allowed (in limited quantities, of course), it's right after school. The kids need the energy and it gives them a few minutes to transition from school to home.
Those minutes of snack time give us a chance to sit down and discuss their day. That is so important to them and to me.
Divide and conquer.
My husband and I have different responsibilities during this part of the day, and we try to keep them pretty consistent. He helps with math and calls out spelling words. I deal with timers (for the timer-motivated kid), writing, and consequences. He throws in laundry. I start supper and process paperwork.
We are all working, but we are all working separately. It seems more fair when mom and dad are clearly doing "homework," too.
Have a checklist.
Each afternoon, the kids have a simple checklist to complete. They actually check off stuff as it gets done, and give it to me to approve before they can play.
Snack, give mom red folder to process, homework, pack lunch, red folder/homework/lunch back into school bag, water bottle and lunch box filled and to fridge.
Only politely-requested and limited homework assistance allowed.
Each kid is responsible for his own homework, even my second grader. He checks his homework planner. He does the tasks. He checks them off.
If a kid needs help, he must 1) try first and 2) ask politely.
Even then, I don't even give the answer. I will read a word or reexplain a concept, but they must try, even if they get the wrong answer. I also leave wrong answers on the page, even if we work the correct answer next to it, so teachers can see their struggles.
The biggest advantage of this is that I can process their red "take home" folders, chop some veggies for dinner, pay bills, or check my e-mail until they need me for something.
Be consistent, unless a change is needed.
Every now and then, especially if they had a particularly tough day or more homework than usual, we stop at a library or coffee shop and work there. Sometimes, that's just the thing they need to cope.
Otherwise, we all sit around the kitchen table. The television is off and we give each other the respect of quiet voices.
Don't expect perfection.
After school and work, everyone is tired. This is really just the "get through it and move on" part of the day. Save thinking for the mornings or after dinner!
I hope some of this helps you get through the afternoons and early evenings without too much angst.
The Loki was not posing for this picture, by the way. He actually fell asleep mid-homework!
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