Children’s Afternoon Routine
Do you know what the most challenging part of my day is? Yep, that 3-5 pm slot!
If you are a mum, I am sure you face this challenge too! Gina Ford in her book Contented Little with Baby book says that you should just not receive any calls. I was really amazed the first time I read it as to how she could be so sure that kids need all that attention at that time. I have since then met been told by so many mums that there late afternoons are really the Tantrum Time of the day.
I have a grade-schooler who comes home at that exact moment, 3pm. The girls have just gotten up and all of them need attention all at once. I have always had to juggle a baby and toddler for six years now and you know what that taught me? Fear the 3-5pm slot! Really, I am amazed how quickly things go wrong when you don’t give them that undivided attention. Here are a few things that I always make sure about:
Switch of your mobile phone.
Let the calls go on to answering machine and get off the messenger or WhatsApp. Personally, I have told all my friends and family not to call me between 3-5pm! They have seen the consequences of it. Either my kids will be crying or something will be terribly gone wrong. I am so distracted at that time that if even if they told me something really life altering, it would go unregistered with me. I am always with one ear to the phone and the other listening to and answering my child while pleading with them for just one minute more!
Put away those laptops, tablets and save those TV programmes for another time.
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No really, just hide your technology. If your kids get their hands on it, you will be in big trouble. Somehow no matter what time you deem fit for their technology hour, this is just not that time. Things always go bad. They want to see just one little video or play one game but somehow it just goes out of control and they start to cry. Simple solution to the problem, hide those tablets laptops and mobile phones.
Get your lunch ready before that time.
If you have a kid coming home from school during that period, do it before he/she gets home so that you are really there for them. See below for more ideas on what kind of lunch and snacks to give.
What to do is to give them some creativity.
This is that time to unwind with your kids. Play dough, paints, crayons… Oh yes! bring them on. Don’t show them what to do. This isn’t the time to teach. It is a time to let them lose themselves. My son loves to play all his building toys at this time. Lego, Make it Moov it, Gears, Screws, anything thathe can craft or draw or create. My toddler likes to have some blocks or Quiet boxes or her make believe things. She will just put on my scarves and heels and go around. I will lether pull out all my shoes for the sake of sanity. (It hurts, yes! My shoes!) .
Television can be your best friend.
I know I said no TV but I meant, No TV for you. You can give them some TV because they will want to just lie around. Just make sure you choose something calm and relaxing.
Water! Let them Splash around!
Never under estimate the power of a bath! I have learnt my lessons well and one of them is that baths and lollypops are a mom’s bestfriends. Don’t give them lollypops during this time because you don’t want that sugar rush in the middle to excalate the matter even further but yes, let them splash around. If you have a pool… all the better! If you can take them swimming, you get to have some good time too!
Bubbles, bubbles everywhere…
If you have a wand and some bubble solution that you have made up or bought… you are in luck! If you don’t have a wand, get creative… use whatever you can. A little science experiment can be fun. Penne Pasta? Straws? Thin wire? A small mouthed bottle? Yes… imagination… give it wings!
How about a book?
This is the best time of the day to read a really relaxing book. When my eldest daughter was alive, my son and I would get down on the rug with a few throw pillows and she’d just roll around us. Sometimes, she napped. Sometimes, we read for two whole hours.
The main reason for them getting on with the tantrums is because they are just tired at that time. My son, during the school year, comes home from school at that time. I found that my Back Home Routine helps relax him. They want someone to welcome them. If you are a Stay-at-home-mum or Work-at-home-mum then, it is better to set that time of the day to receive them. An hour or so of exclusive time with them can do wonders. If you are a mum who works away from home then being their for them at the time they come home can be difficult. If you can manage to be home at that time, then you will need to give them more attention because they really want their mom at that time. A few minutes with them on the couch before you go to change and get lunch or supper can do wonders. You both get your rest… if you have more kids then you all get a total family time and then all off for themselves. The kids in their toys to relax or read or whatever and you too.
What if you have little babies too? Then too, get the baby or toddler or both involved with the big kid. I have a baby and a toddler. What we do is that I make sure the girls are up from their naps atleast an hour before my son comes home. They are fed and ready to receive him. As soon as he comes home, we tell him how much we missed him and what we have planned or done through the day. A little treat or if he is in the mood for lunch together later, he is ready for some quite time with his sisters. I usually let him do whatever he wants too with the exception of screen time. Screen time means, TV, tablet or computer. He has already come home tired and disturbed, even a few minutes of screen time makes him get out-of-control-crazy.
Another thing I try to avoid, is the sugars or high carbs. Never give candy or chips when your child is tired or hungry. It shoots their sugar level up, makes them hyperactive and then after a few minutes or more, their energy falls even low than they were earlier. They will cry and get terribly out of control. The safer healthier choice is protein. Give them nuts, fruits, yoghurts or smoothies if they won’t take their lunch. There are a lot of tastier options to try. I also like to dish up something new and something that will surprise him… delight them even. Yes, all those fun kids recipes you pinned or wondered about.. this is the perfect time to present them!
We are having summer these days. I don’t know about you but mine are very hot and Thankfully, really calm. We don’t have school but I enrolled him in a gym for swimming, soccer and Taekwondo classes for the evenings. All boys need to vent their energy somewhere.
What do you do when you need some relaxing time for your child?
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