Practical Dad

A PracticalDad Afterschool Routine

Developing a good daily routine for managing kids after daycare or school is crucial.  Life is chaotic enough with children, and when you toss in the occasional financial/banking crisis, the lack of a routine makes life far more difficult.

I have to admit that having cable and the internet makes for ringside seats at the 2008 Financial Crises, and the stunning speed with which events have passed has been attention-absorbing.  Goldman and Morgan Stanley are morphing into bank-holding companies?  The Lehman bankruptcy is a straw horse for bailing out JP Morgan Chase?  What's this mean and how does it affect me? 

It also means that dinner is thrown together on the fly and the necessary post-school items have been knocked aside.  And that can't happen.

Children and teens do better when they know that there's a standard routine to the day when everybody gets home.  Dinner is made and hopefully the family can spend a little time together catching up on the day's events; and the schoolwork can be checked. 

As the school year starts, the flow won't become discernible until the second week as the studies gear up.  At that time, you can determine who needs to do what.  Does the elementary schooler need to do a certain amount of reading or are you to read to her?  Are you supposed to sign the student's planner to assure that you've seen what's hanging out there?  Are they supposed to practice for music lessons and if so, on what days?  What activities are there and when do they meet?

I've found that a general routine helps keep things on track.  What can help with this routine?

  • Find a regular and visible place for each child to place their backpack when they arrive home.
  • Spend a few minutes with them over a kitchen snack to let them share what happened that day.  Some days are minimal information while others lead to in-depth conversation or bull sessions.
  • Check the school planners to see what homework or test is awaiting. 
  • Help the younger children plan how they should tackle the afternoon/evening activities.
  • Use the available time to read to the younger ones and monitor homework/studies for the older ones.
  • Assure that all of the necessary items are done before they settle down for any electronic time, i.e. time spent with an electronic device of any kind.

Once you settle on a general format, the flow of the routine will take over and make life more manageable.  And that's part of what it's about, isn't it?

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