Creating a Balanced After-School Routine for a Smooth Family Transition

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Life can get chaotic once the school bell rings, and kids come home to their safe space and often need to snack, vent and do homework before unwinding from the day. Establishing an effective after-school routine can make the transition from school to home a smoother and calmer experience for everyone.

Here’s an example of the number of things we do from when our kids get home until bedtime:

After-School Routine in the Living Areas:

  1. Unpack Backpacks: we start our routine the second we get in the door. Kids unpack their backpacks to help avoid any last-minute surprises about assignments or essential notices from the school.

  2. Clean Lunchboxes: We then immediately clean lunchboxes to prevent lingering odours and so that we can reuse the containers the next day.

  3. Homework + Snack: We allocate time for children to tackle their homework while enjoying a nutritious snack. Unwinding activities like screen time are reserved for when homework is complete. 

  4. Dinner Prep and Decluttering: If you can, involve your children in preparing dinner. This fosters a sense of responsibility and family togetherness. When it’s simmering or baking in the oven, I often use that time to tidy up the living areas, putting everything back in its home.

  5. Prep Lunches and Fill Water Bottles: Getting a head start on preparing lunches for the next day streamlines the morning rush. (Check my lunch container recommendations here). Fill water bottles to have them ready for the next day as well.

  6. Words of Gratitude + Family Dinner: As a family, take a moment to share your daily highlights and express gratitude. This can be done during dinner, reinforcing positive communication and connection.

  7. Put the Living Areas to Sleep: Dim the lights and transition into a calmer atmosphere in the evening. This subtle shift helps signal to everyone (and our body clocks) that it’s time to wind down.

  8. Unload the Dishwasher: If you have a dishwasher, unload it in the evening to have clean dishes ready for the next day.

  9. Repack Backpacks: After homework and dinner, help your children organize their backpacks for the following day. This prevents forgetting items or falling behind during the morning rush, especially in the Winter when there are so many accessories to remember.

  10. Prep Breakfast: Set the stage for a stress-free morning by prepping breakfast items in advance. For us, this looks like setting the table, defrosting breakfast sausages, soaking oats or making muffin batter. This saves time and ensures a healthy start to the day.

 

Evening/Bedtime Routine:

  1. Bath or Showers: Establish a calming pre-sleep routine, including baths or showers. This helps children wind down and relax before bedtime.

  2. Skin + Oral Care Routines: Encourage good hygiene habits by ensuring your children follow their skin and oral care routines. I like to do my skin and oral routines at the same time as them.

  3. Lay Out Clothes: Choose and lay out clothes for yourself and your children. This prevents morning outfit dilemmas and makes mornings more efficient.

  4. Connection Time: Dedicate a few minutes to reading, singing lullabies, and enjoying cuddle time with your kids. This soothing ritual helps foster emotional bonds.

  5. Lights Out for Children: Set a consistent bedtime for your children and turn off the lights. A regular sleep schedule promotes better sleep quality.

  6. Review Calendar: Take a quick look at the family calendar to ensure you’re prepared for the next day’s commitments.

  7. Read + Tea: Spend time unwinding with a book and a calming cup of tea. This is an opportunity for you to recharge and relax.

  8. Journal: If you enjoy journaling, take a few minutes to jot down your thoughts, reflections, or plans for the next day.

  9. Bed: Try to hold firm boundaries for your own bedtime, just as you would for your children.


With a solid after-school routine, you’ll create a structured framework that promotes productivity, family connection, and a peaceful transition from school to home. A well-organized routine benefits both parents and children, making evenings enjoyable and mornings less stressful. Remember, while routines provide structure, flexibility is critical to adapting to changing circumstances and maintaining a harmonious household.

 

DISCLOSURE: This journal entry contains a link to Amazon.com. Meagan from Meagan Rose Wilson is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. amazon.ca and amazon.uk Thank you for your support.

Meagan Wilson is a parent educator and author of the now-retired seasonal series of Whole Family Rhythms. After finishing a BA, she went on to complete her Foundations in Steiner Education and Anthroposophy at Sydney Steiner College, as well as her Waldorf Early Childhood Certification at the Rudolf Steiner Centre in Toronto. She has received her certification as a Simplicity Parenting Family Life Coach and has supported hundreds of parents to create a strong family rhythm unique to their own values and culture. She has four young children. Meagan provides resources, support and information to parents who are looking for a bridge to cross between their unique family life and their children’s (often but not always) Waldorf schools.

2 Comments

  1. Fati on January 21, 2024 at 11:30 pm

    What type of nutritious snack do u provide while doing homework?
    We got rid of TV n lifes been sooouch more peaceful the past momth! Wondering wht to give as reward after homework is done

    • Meagan Rose Wilson on January 22, 2024 at 10:09 am

      I think anything that’s feels good and is relaxing, soothing or comforting. Reading a book together, a play outside, if it’s warm- swinging on a swing, sensory play, listening to music or an audiobook…

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