11 tips to manage after-school activities with kids
We all tell ourselves as parents that we are not going to overload our lives with after school activities and before we know it…we are living in our car from the time we get off work until dinner time 🙂 It happens, especially if you have a child that really enjoys being involved in so many activities.
So how do we manage all of that? It seems easy when you are signing them up for everything but when it’s time to run around, it can become really overwhelming. On top of that, throw a second or third kid in the mix and you really have to bring your A game!
Here are some things my family does to manage activities:
- Start planning a few months ahead: Talk to your child about what they are interested in so you can do research to see what is out there. For example, if your child is interested in competitive sports such as airsoft, then you can check out this link for more information. The sooner you know what they want to do, you can have more time to figure out timings for each kid. We sat with both our kids and let them pick 2 to 3 activities each for the next 6 months. We did advise them to choose a variety of items, not just sports, but also something fun and educational. We set the expectation that they may not get to do all 3 activities they choose, but it gives parents some flexibility in planning.
- Set limits: You as a parent probably want to put your kids in so much stuff but in reality, that will just make you insane. Give your child/children some limits on how many activities they can do based on your family lifestyle. It will really benefit the whole family.
- Set aside time for HW and enforce it in the house. For our family, we go straight to the library after school for 1 hour and get the HW done. It works for us because it is in a place they can focus and avoids coming home. Plus as a parent, I can focus on them and not try prepping dinner or doing dishes. Sometimes we go to the library around 7:30 at night and hang out until bedtime to get the work done.
- Prepare for the activities on Sunday. This should be a family thing, not the parent doing it all. We give our kids a list of activities they have that week and help them pack their own stuff. This will avoid the “crap I totally forgot your soccer cleats” moment. Our kids enjoy it since we do it together.
- Understand the timings in your house: If you have a child that goes to bed early or can’t really handle doing much later in the evening, choose the route for maybe 1 activity. For our house…it works better that we stay out until dinner getting HW and activities done.
- Create a family calendar: Google calendars all the way for us! It’s really important to keep all the information in one place so everyone who is helping with the activities can stay updated. It will relieve a lot of confusion.
- Keep healthy snacks with you: Since we are out until dinner each day, I try to pack healthy snacks before I leave the house, or even prep them when I pack lunches. Hungry kids lead to grumpy kids so try your best to avoid that. Also keep a bag of snacks in your car that will last. Some snack ideas include whole grain english muffin with peanut butter, Apples and peanut butter, Cheese sticks, grapes, mixed nuts, slices of deli meat and veggies and smoothies.
- Stay calm: It is OK if you are a few minutes late sometimes. The amount of stress you feel when you are rushing in your car can be dangerous on the road and for your body. Tell yourself it’s not the end of the world and you are not the first person to ever be late for an activity.
- Be smart about meal planning: If you have soccer practice until 7:30 at night, just make it a night you go out to dinner or something super simple when you get home. Don’t try to overwhelm yourself by making a huge meal. Take the days you don’t have activities for the bigger meals.
- Carpool: If you know ahead of time, ask around in your neighborhood for kids that may have the same activity. Even carpooling 1 time a week will ease your workload. Check out this cool car pooling app for kids.
- Enjoy that time with the kids: This is the hardest thing to do. If you have little ones where you can’t just drop them off to the activity, enjoy it. Remind yourself how lucky you are to be able to put them in these activities and be there to watch them. Take a deep breath on those non stop days and be in the moment. Find that balance and if you feel like you are always stressed, go back to your original activities plan and change things up.