After a long day at school, children are often at capacity for how much direction they can take or information they can assimilate. You may find that your child comes home and immediately heads for the couch, or is instantly pulled into the blue-light glow of an electronic device.
At Wonder Bunch Media, we’re parents too. We know that it can feel like a battle between giving your child the decompression they deserve and the structure they need. We’ve asked a few experts (parents who do it better than we do!) and have put their advice to work in our own homes. And we wanted to share what we’ve learned.
Take a Detour
Leaving school with an exhausted child means your first instinct is to take them straight to the safety of home for a rest. That might be the best answer sometimes, but probably not most of the time. Instead, try to make a daily detour part of your routine. Pack some skates, a bike, or a ball and glove and head to the park. Go for a walk, play on the swings, or shoot some hoops before you head home. While they are tired, they’ve also spent most of the last eight hours strapped to a chair. If the weather doesn’t permit lingering outside, head to the mall and share a pretzel as you walk the halls for a while. Some really great talks can happen over an Orange Julius and window shopping!
Now that school is over, it’s time to hydrate and power up for a fun afternoon with the family! You can find some great energy-packed snack ideas in our last blog. If you have more ideas we can share with our readers, be sure to drop us a comment, or email us at Hello@WonderBunch.Com
Write it Down
At the end of the day as you’re saying your goodnights, how often does it devolve into a tense confrontation about whether or not homework got done, the dishwasher got loaded, or if you need to have two dozen allergen-free snacks for their class ready by morning? That’s no way to send any of you off to a restful sleep! Even if the argument doesn’t happen, often families are going to bed with an overwhelming sense of anxiety that something was missed.
Instead, make a list your child can easily reference, and prioritize it. Knowing exactly what is on their to-do list takes a lot of pressure off of those little shoulders. How important is it that your child showers tonight? How important is it that they walk the dog? Realistically, there won’t always be time to get to every item. Placing higher priority on tasks that cannot be missed allows a little space and a little grace, and we could all use just a little more of both!
Task 1, Priority A: Feed Dog
Task 2, Priority A: Homework Done by 8pm
Task 3, Priority B: Shower by 8:30pm
Task 4, Priority C: Bring Laundry from Hamper to Laundry Room
Task 5, Priority C: Pick up Toys
Use simple drawings for each item for non-readers in the family, and be sure you’re including everyone in the family on the list. Any well-functioning organization does best when everyone knows what is expected of them! Does the A, B, C Priority Code not speak to your family? Play around with it! Use color coding, code words, or incentives on each item. High priority items in red, with low-priority tasks highlighted in blue or yellow. Feeding the dog might buy screen time and showering before the deadline might earn them a sticker, five of which equal a pizza party, toy, or something of value to them.
There’s a good chance that you’re reading this in bed, on your phone, and probably long after you should be asleep. We get it, sometimes it’s the only time you have to decompress, and we aren’t judging. We probably don’t have to tell you how screen time before bed affects your brain, and your sleep. While blue-light blockers and “night mode” can help, ensuring that your child isn’t sitting in front of screens before bed is pretty important to a good night’s sleep. We put together a blog about the effects of screens, and other tips for helping your child get a restful night. Read it here!
End it on a High Note
We love that we have readers of all beliefs, and one of the many things that all religions and value systems agree on is that gratitude is one of the main ingredients to a happier, more fulfilled life. Take time before everyone drifts off to talk about your favorite part of the day, something each person in the family did that made life just a little sweeter. Something brave, something kind. Have your child name everyone they can think of who loves them, and everyone they are thankful for. This will send them off to their dreams feeling seen, special, and so, so loved!
We hope that your family is having a very successful back-to-school season, and that some of the topics and expert tips we are sharing have been coming in handy! If you have burning parenting questions, items you’d like us to research, or if you would like to learn more about the educational apps and storybooks we’re creating for kids, leave us a comment! We love your feedback, and are always looking for more ways to serve our Wonder Bunch families!
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