As many of you know, my own has now started school this year. He had his tonsils and adenoids removed only 2 weeks before school started and all I could think of is how tired he will be. We had so much grief with separation anxiety last year that I had completely talked myself into the fact that he would be too tired and unable to cope with school, which would then make him have a negative view of school – thus, equalling separation anxiety.
So far, this hasn’t been the case at all. He loves school, and he comes home full of stories and a light in his smile that makes me so happy. He’s always had a thirst for knowledge, and his lovely school environment is clearly catering for that perfectly. He still comes home tired though…buzzing, but tired. He might not seem tired to a fly on the wall. He’s chatting excitedly all afternoon and at bed-time he doesn’t seem to be able to sleep, but the comedown comes and it comes hard. Irritability, outbursts and inability to tolerate the antics of a little brother are but some of the signs.
It hasn’t been perfect, but the routine we put in place for this year has been going really well. Here’s how we are keeping the after school meltdown at bay:
1. Have dinner cooked or mostly cooked before 5pm
When kinder finished at 2pm, it wasn’t such a big deal to come home and then cook dinner. However, now we don’t get home until about 4pm and my kids have dinner around 5pm. I’d much rather be spending that time with my little guy who I haven’t seen all day, even if I’m not interacting with him and he’s just having the quiet times he needs. I am not a dinner in batches kind of girl and I’m not into freezing main meals. I’ve just been cooking around 1pm as my toddler tends to nap or have downtime around then.
2. Cuddle in bed and let them talk
At first, I was getting really frustrated that my child wouldn’t sleep until later than usual on a school night. I was walking in and walking out and he was such a mess! Now I’m giving him a much more extended time to talk in bed with me after we do our stories and lights out. It helps him to unwind and as he is talking he usually naturally lets me know about things that happened during his day, rather than me asking him 101 questions when he’s just got home and not in the mood for talking. Kids also miss the heck out of their parents who they haven’t seen all day, even if they don’t realise it. So cuddle them, while you still can!
3. Give them time alone
T is spending more and more time in his room. Sometimes he tolerates his little brother joining him and other times he doesn’t. If he wants alone time, I let him have it. I know when I was a teacher, surrounded by 22 little humans each day, there was nothing I wanted more when I got home than time to myself. Kids are no different. I’m completely down with him not wanting to share, or play with anyone as soon as he comes home from school. He’s been doing that all day! He deserves a little time just for him.
4. Have after school snacks at the ready
I shudder to think how much food my boys will consume when they are 15. T downs two scrambled eggs on toast for breakfast day in, day out. He has 2 sandwiches at school plus yoghurt, fruit, crackers and cheese and usually a homemade treat. Sometimes he brings the snacks home because he hasn’t had time to eat them so by the time he gets home he is famished. As the weather is turning chilly I’m starting to turn to warm snacks for the boys to snack on in the afternoon. The Whirlpool Crisp n Grill has been amazing for that. It literally sends your snacks from frozen to perfect in the middle and crispy on the outside in 7-10 minutes! I’ll be sharing the recipes of these plus more as we continue to play around with this awesome appliance.
5. Don’t slot in after school activities
This can be tricky for some I know, but we have decided on no after school activities. In fact, we’re only just starting to think about scheduled ones on the weekend like swimming or gymnastics. I would crave that ‘zone out’ time when I got home from being in a classroom most of the day and I know T appreciates it too. He’s a better learner tomorrow because he can rest at the end of the day, today.
Are you avoiding the after school meltdown or does it rear its head most days at your house?