Arriving Home With Kids Without Losing My Sanity | Giftie Etcetera: Arriving Home With Kids Without Losing My Sanity

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Arriving Home With Kids Without Losing My Sanity

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.

homework, parenting, time management

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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Unknown said...

I do not look forward to this. It seems so chaotic. Yours tips seem very helpful and practical though.

Anna said...

I'm glad no family members were harmed in the making of the post... that made me chuckle, and I can say I've had days like that. It does help me when I have set routines, and I can stick to the basics. Thanks for the tips. :)

Momstar said...

My tip make a plan and stick to the plan. Even with just 1 child if I make an unscheduled stop after school/work it backfires on me. It takes longer than I expect and our evening routine gets thrown off. She gets into bed late and the next morning there's trouble. I process the take home folder much the same way. Events get entered into google calendar, to do's or to shop for (I.e picture day outfit) entered into to do list and finally the event Is written on the wall calendar.

Emma @ Our Whimsical Days said...

This is the hardest part of the day for us too - and my daughter is only in 1st grade. We haven't even had to deal with homework yet!

MommytheTeacher said...

I kinda remember those days...although that is a pretty tough time of day for most folks, I say coming home from the grocery with the kids can be a pretty hectic time also. LOL! Let's see...leaving the park, leaving a playdate, getting up for the list kind of goes on and on. :) I'm being cheeky, thanks for a great and needed post.


Tiny Toadstool Cottage said...

It is the worst time of day! Great tips. I also try and get as much of dinner done as I can beforehand, so if they need my attention I can give it to them.

Kendall said...

Although we haven't experienced this after school time yet, we certainly abide by some of these rules/guidelines in general with Baby Boy as he learns new tasks and works on other things, like getting dressed. :)

Unknown said...

I call 3-6 my witching hours. They can be so hard and draining. Planning ahead is my downfall. I need to take some of your tips to heart. Thanks for sharing. I'm your neighbor at Anything Goes. Have a great day!

Jaime Barfield said...

The moments after school used to be chaotic for us. As my kids went through school, I learned better ways to handle it. I eased up some. They have "downtime" when they get home from school before I expect housework and homework to be completed. I chose this because I remember having to do my homework right after coming home from school and it was a horrible feeling. I would sit by the window at the table working on homework, but all I could think about was how much I wanted to be outside.

Unknown said...

A great post. This seems like such an organised after school routine, I respect your parenting and will remember the points for a couple of years when M goes to school! :-) #twinklytuesday

Lex said...

Aww, I've had my fall-asleep-during-homework moments, too! haha Thanks for all of these tips. I like the homework section where they need to try and ask nicely and you leave the wrong answers next to the correct ones.