These days, it’s easy to see why families feel like there are not enough hours in the day. Whether it is balancing responsibilities at both work and home, settling into a new house after the big move or simply finding time to do laundry, many households are challenged with growing to-do lists, which quickly become points of tension and stress.
One of the most effective ways to balance out a busy schedule with quality family time is to plan ahead and combine enjoyable activities with tasks you need to get done. The following five after-school activities will help you find a better balance in your home:
- Develop a routine and stick to it. Establishing an after-school routine is key to making evenings run smoothly. Include children in the process of making your family’s after-school schedule so they feel part of decisions that will affect them. Ask limited-choice questions, like “Would you prefer to read a story before or after your bath?” Once the whole family has agreed to a routine, document it with pictures and words so the emerging readers in your family can follow the sequence. Most importantly, keep the routine consistent. Once little ones know what to expect after school in their new environment, nightly tasks like brushing teeth or picking a story for bedtime are more likely to run smoothly.
- Prepare healthy snacks in advance. Unhealthy snacking habits are easy to fall into, especially at the end of a long day. Try preparing a week’s worth of healthy snacks in advance. Pre-chop and store fruits and veggies in plastic containers so they are ready for eating and easily accessible right after school. Most grocery stores also sell pre-sliced cheeses, fruits and vegetables if you want to save even more time. You can make after-school snack time even more valuable by leaving paper and crayons or books near the table to help keep children occupied.
- Turn everyday tasks into games. Children love to help. Getting them involved in something on your to-do list is a great way to stay productive while spending quality time together. Turn the task of unpacking boxes or folding laundry into a matching game, or ask children to sort unwashed clothes by color. Make up a song about the silverware and plates while unpacking the kitchen or just doing dishes. Get creative to make the task seem more enjoyable for both you and your little ones.
- Fit in fitness. Some days, making time for physical activity seems impossible. One way to get in a few minutes of fitness is to have a family dance party while dinner is in the oven. Put on a favorite song and show off those dance moves! Need to keep the children occupied for longer than one song? Invite each member of the family to select a favorite tune. It helps to remember that daily physical activity doesn’t have to mean a run every morning. Dancing keeps your family active and releases pent-up energy after a day at work and school.
- Prepare for the next day. Preparing at night for the next day sounds daunting, but it really does save time and eliminate stress in the morning. Pack lunches and school bags, help your children pick out clothes and talk about the schedule for the next day. You’ll feel a lot better in the morning knowing your family is ready to face the day. n
Primrose Schools in metro Atlanta offer year-round, full and part-time programs for children 6 weeks old through pre-K, with select schools offering before and after-school programs, as well as summer camps for school-age children. The Primrose Balanced Learning approach nurtures children’s intellectual, creative, physical and social-emotional development through a balance of purposeful play and nurturing guidance from teachers. Nearly 5,500 children are currently enrolled at Primrose schools in Atlanta. To learn more about the 38 schools in metro Atlanta, visit primroseschools.com/atlanta.