INSIDE: The after-school routine that helps me to stay on track Monday through Friday. This is the second post in a series about routines that help me survive the school week. Includes a FREE printable to help you create school routines that work for you too!
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Welcome to the second part of this three-part series where I’m sharing the three routines that help me to stay organised (and sane) during the school week. Each of these routines are great on their own, but together they make it SO much easier to get to the end of the school week still in one piece.
In the first post, I talked about the school morning routine that helps my youngest, Harrison and I get to the school gates on time each morning. In this post, I’m sharing the after-school routine that helps us survive those few hours between home-time and bedtime.
I’m also sharing my top tips on how to create an after-school routine that works for you. PLUS, I have a FREE printable for you to download so you can easily create your own after-school routine too! You’ll find it in my Subscriber’s Resource Library. Find out how to gain access at the bottom of this post. So, are you ready to see what my after-school routine looks like?! Let’s dive in!
My after-school routine…
This is the routine that helps me make sure Harrison has done his homework and that dinner is on the table with minimal stress and fuss. It helps make bedtime less stressful and more enjoyable too and it gets us ready for the following day.
After-school until Harrison’s bedtime:
- 3.30pm-3.45pm: Getting in from school around 3.30pm, Harrison gives me any letters he might have and unpacks his school bag. He empties out his lunchbox and puts it by the sink. He gets changed, folds his uniform up ready for the following day and takes a trip to the toilet.
- 3.45pm-4.30pm: This is our little golden hour. It’s the pocket of time I have free before I start thinking about the dinner, bath and bed routines. We always try to do something during this hour. We might go for a bike ride, a walk with the dog or play a game indoors if it’s raining outside. Harrison knows that the quicker he does the things he needs to when he gets in from school, the more time we have together before I start cooking dinner. It’s a great motivator!
- 4.30pm-5.30pm: This is my prep and cook dinner time. Having had my attention, Harrison is happy to amuse himself until dinner is ready. I usually call him five minutes before to lay the table.
- 5.30pm-6pm: Dinner time! We’re fortunate enough that both my Hubby and I work from home and our eldest is usually home from work by this time too, so most evenings we have dinner together. I love these thirty minutes or so, it’s real family-bonding time.
- 6pm-6.30pm: This is clear-the-decks time. Harrison goes off to get ready for bed, and if it’s Wednesday, this is when he has a bath too. Our eldest helps to wash up and load the dishwasher. This is when I also get things ready for the following day. I put out anything Harrison has to take to school in the morning and I prep the non-perishibles of his packed lunch. I also take any meat I need out the freezer so it can defrost for tomorrow’s dinner.
- 6.30pm-7pm: This is our snuggle time before Harrison goes to bed. We’ll either catch up an episode of Netflix or read together before he goes up to bed around 7pm.
- 7pm-7.30pm: Harrison is allowed to read or draw in bed until 7.30pm, then it’s lights out.
The grown-up evening routine:
- 7.30pm-9.30/10pm: Once Harrison is in bed my Hubby and I will find something to watch on TV or Netflix. Neither of us are very good at just veging, we always have to be doing something. So most times we’ll pick a programme to watch in the background. I’ll work on my blog and if Steve isn’t too tired, he’ll read or catch up on emails.
- 9.30/10pm-10.30pm: I aim to stop working around this time so we can start winding down for bed. We’ll usually spend around 45 minutes watching the next episode of whatever series we’re watching on Netflix. At the moment it’s Criminal Minds and Homeland, so we tend to flit between the two. It’s really nice having this pocket of time together because we get a little work done but we also have a few minutes together before bed too.
- 10.30pm: Sometimes it’s a little earlier, other times it’s a little later, but generally, 10.30pm is bedtime for us.
Creating an after-school routine that works for you…
First, download my FREE School Routines printable (find it in my Resource Library here…). Then, starting with the time you want your kids to be in bed by, work backwards to school pick-up time. Think about all the things you need to do and in which order you want/need to do them. Add everything in the order that suits your family’s needs…use my routine above to help you if you need to.
Be intentional about how you spend the pockets of time you have before and after dinner. Make the most of them and think about how your kids can entertain themselves whilst you’re prepping dinner so you can get on with it with minimal interruptions. Screen time is a great babysitter here! Sometimes I’ll get Harrison to keep me company in the kitchen so he’s not on his own. He’ll sit up at the table and draw, colour or play his learning games on his iPad. I like it when he does this as it’s one of the times where he’ll open up and tell me about his day.
After-school routine hacks…
1 | Create an after-school routine for each day.
My school morning routine is pretty much the same every day. Our after-school routine, on the other hand, is different. Depending on what day it is, I tweak the after-school routine to fit our needs. If you have different activities each day, don’t be afraid of creating multiple after-school routines to fit whatever you’re doing.
2 | Make the most of that golden hour.
If you’re at home with your kids there’s that hour in between coming in from school and starting dinner. Seize that little pocket of time and be intentional about how you use it. Once I’m in prepping dinner mode it’s harder for me to give him my attention. But Harrison loves having that little bit of time with me beforehand…and he’s happy to then leave me to get on with cooking dinner after because he’s already had my attention!
3 | Have a designated spot for letters and homework.
This really helps make sure you’re kept in the loop about what’s going on at school. And it’s harder for them to deny knowledge about having any homework! Harrison empties out his bag as soon as he gets in and gives me anything I need to see. Having a set spot for them to put letters and their homework book can really help with this. Make it part of the routine when they get in from school and you’re less likely to find an important letter crumpled at the bottom of their school bag three days too late!
4 | Let them play by themselves.
You kids don’t need, nor should they have your constant attention 24/7. It’s OK for them to play on their own for a while. Playing by themselves helps them to get used to enjoying their own company and encourages them to use their imagination. So if they’re old enough, don’t be afraid of giving them some independent play time during those times where you need to just get on. Because I spend time with Harrison before I start cooking dinner, he’s happy to go off and play by himself for a while. He knows that he’s going to get my attention again before bedtime too, so he doesn’t worry about being by himself for half an hour in between times.
5 | Clear up straight after dinner.
This is such a game changer. You might not feel like doing it straight after dinner, but there’s nothing worse than coming down to a sink full of dishes the following morning. I really hate that and it totally stresses me out. If my kitchen is clean and tidy when I come down to make that first cup of coffee I feel so much calmer. Yes, it means sacrificing a few minutes sofa-time the night before, but it’s totally worth it.
6 | A set bedtime is key.
Having a set bedtime is key if you want to survive the school week. Kids love to know what’s happening when. And when things are consistent there is stability and security. It makes them feel comfortable in their surroundings and they know what to expect when. And that includes bedtime. If they have a set time for bed it makes it easier to get them to get ready for it. Like cleaning their teeth, they learn that it’s just what they do. And when you’re consistent with a set bedtime, when you stick to it, bedtimes become SO much easier to manage.
7 | Make the most of those bedtime snuggles.
This one for me is a work in progress. Harrison loves his bedtime snuggles, but some nights, as bad as it might sound, I’m exhausted and I just don’t have the energy to drag out bedtime any longer than I have to. Sometimes, all I want to do is collapse on the sofa with a cheeky glass of wine. BUT, I know that those bedtime snuggles are one of his favourite times of day and it’s when he opens up most about what is going on in his life. And so, although I’m ready to fall asleep standing up, I try and muster the energy to spend a little bit of extra time snuggling with him. And it’s totally worth it.
8 | Get ready for tomorrow tonight.
Why scramble around having a last-minute panic tomorrow when you can get organised tonight? Getting ready for the following morning the night before makes SO much sense. You’re less likely to forget things and if you do happen to hit that snooze button one too many times, it’s less of a stressed-out mad dash out the door. Think about what you need for the morning and get it all ready BEFORE you go to bed. Sure, it might take you a few minutes when you’re exhausted and just want to turn in for the night, but you really will thank yourself in the morning.
9 | Give yourself time for you.
This is a must! After spending all day rushing around after everyone else, you need time for you. As hard as it might feel to find some time for you, ask yourself what you can do with the rest of your evening when your kids are in bed. Maybe switch the TV off half an hour early and run yourself a bath. Maybe go to bed half an hour earlier than you normally would and give yourself some time to read. And if bedtimes are tricky and it takes a while for the kids to go to sleep, could you grab some time for yourself in the morning instead, before they get up?
My after-school routine…
There you have it! My after-school routine and how to create one that works for you. Try creating your own and see how much easier that time between home-time and bedtime becomes to manage. Need a little help? Don’t forget that I’ve created a FREE printable to make things easier for you! You’ll find it in my FREE Resource Library.
Available only to my subscribers, all you need to do to gain access is sign up to receive my emails and I’ll send you the password. Inside the Resource Library, you’ll find a ton of cheatsheets, checklists, printables and workbooks all designed to help my A Simple and Contented Life community create a family life they LOVE!
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That’s it for this post! Do you have an after-school routine? Has this post inspired you to create one? Let me know in the comments below!
Until next time…
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Like what you’ve read? You’ll LOVE these posts too!
- My School Morning Routine – My Survival Guide to Getting Through the School Week
- My Weekend Routine – My Survival Guide to Getting Through the School Week
- Improve Your Child’s Behaviour – My Foolproof Behaviour Chart