Help your family keep home and school life organized with a simple after school routine, complete with free printable checklist!
With kids heading back to school right now, it’s a great time to revisit family routines and get some good systems in place to make life run a little smoother this year.
Have your kids headed back to school yet?
My kids just started back at public school after homeschooling last year, so I was a little nervous for them, but so far so good!
I’m still working my way through revamping all my household systems (I had a LOT of things that got pushed to the back burner for the past year and a half…can you relate?), but one routine I set up right away was our after school routine.
To me, the time when my kids first come home from school is one of the most critical times of the whole day. After being apart for six hours, it’s important to me to make their return home a positive one. Our routine is simple, but it’s meaningful for both the practicality of life and for building our relationships. It has become a tradition of togetherness and a way to clearly signal the move from “school” to “home”.
Do you have a consistent after school routine? If not, how might your family benefit from one?
How having an after school routine will help your family:
- Simplify your mornings. School mornings are busy. As moms, we’re often running around trying get everyone dressed and fed and brushed and not looking like a total ragamuffin. So it’s extremely helpful to have shoes and backpacks already prepped and ready to go. By having a specific place set aside for these items and then making it part of your afternoon routine to prep them for the next day, you take one more thing OFF your list for the morning (because if you’re like me, you’re a little fuzzy brained and more likely to forget stuff in the mornings).
- Make time to connect after being apart. Whenever possible, I like to make our after school snack time a tech-free time where I set down my phone and I chat with my kids about their day while we munch on something yummy. It doesn’t have to be complicated (try any of these easy after school snack ideas). Just 10-15 minutes of quality time can go a long way in making kids feel loved and helping them process all the experiences they’ve had throughout the day.
- Set your kids up for school success. Most kids are not naturally great at keeping track of homework assignments and the papers they bring home from school. But you can help them be successful by teaching them strategies and putting routines in place that encourage them to be responsible. Have them go through their backpacks when they first get home. Review any papers that need to be signed or assignments that need to be finished and make sure everything is ready to go for the next day.
- Keep your home more organized and relaxing. Backpacks, shoes, coats, sports gear…Kids have lots of stuff. And without some training, all that stuff has a tendency to end up strewn about the house in piles. It only takes about 20 seconds to put away their belongings when they walk in the door, and having it put away gives us more space to play and helps me relax and be able to enjoy my kids more.
Here’s what our after school routine looks like each day:
I printed out our checklist (you can download your own copy below), and then posted it on the wall of our mudroom so they can see it right when they walk in the door.
My kids come inside, put away their shoes, and then empty their backpacks of any papers or lunchbox items.
While they wash their hands, I help sort through the papers and clean out their lunch box.
I usually try to have a snack all ready to go on the table, and we’ll sit, eat, and chat together for 10-15 minutes (or until they get tired of my questions and run off to play). When the weather is good, we’ll take our snack out in the backyard instead.
Homework vs. playtime…which should be first?
Some people say, “Get homework done first, so you don’t forget later.”
Others say, “Give them a break. They’ve been working hard all day.”
In the past, we’ve done homework right after snack time, but I’m tweaking our routine this year. My boys do their reading in bed at night (I’m blessed that they’re both good independent readers), and we’re going to experiment with doing any other homework in the morning before school to avoid the afternoon tired troubles. My kids’ elementary school doesn’t start until 9 AM, so we have plenty of time in the morning.
Honestly, you can make either order work, depending on what is best for your family. Just make sure you set aside a regular time of day to do it!
How to get your printable after school routine:
Checklists really are wonderful for kids. Having a list means the expectations are clear. Everyone knows what to do. Post your list in a highly visible place so can look to see what to do next if they forget. In the beginning, you may still need to remind them to “look at the list,” but you may be surprised at how quickly they master the routine!
To get yours, fill out the form below!
Need more help getting your ducks in a row this school year?
Here are some more posts you might be interested in:
- Simple Meal Planning for Busy Moms
- Easy After School Snacks
- The Busy Mom’s Guide to Cleaning Up: 7 Totally Doable Tips