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Once school starts in the fall, every activity your child participates in will begin in late afternoon or early evening.
And as you’ve learned early in your parenting career, a 5 p.m. soccer practice will keep you out until 6:30.
Add a trip through the drive-thru or anywhere else to pick up a quick dinner?
You’re looking at returning closer to 7:30, so after showers and stories, the kids may be up past 9.
Not only do you all need sleep, but you might not have had a half hour to yourself all day!
Here are five easy changes to make to your weeknight routine to get the kids in bed on time no matter what afterschool activities they participate in.
Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performace
The problem with getting things done once everyone returns home from soccer, football and wherever else we spend these nutty nights, we’re too tired and frazzled to be of much use.
So the trick here is to do everything that we need to do before we return home. And you know I have a list for that, right?
1. Pack A Car Picnic
I am a huge fan of kids packing their own lunches.
It saves time for me and teaches them some self-sufficiency.
And on busy weeknights we just use the same principle for dinner.
One of the kids grabs our cooler, fills it up and brings it to the car.
Then, on the ride home from whatever activities we have that night, we all stuff our faces and call it a meal.
It’s quicker than cooking, more healthful than take-out and even a little fun.
Just fill your fridge, freezer and cabinets with stuff that’s easy for the kids to grab and make into a meal.
Sandwiches in the freezer, pre-portioned pretzels in the cabinet and string cheese in the fridge are all easy choices.
2. Make It A Pajama Party
Kids have to get out of their clothes before bed.
But there’s no rule that says it has to be immediately before bed.
Bringing a younger sibling along?
Just bathe him and stick him in his pajamas before leaving the house and he’ll be ready for bed as soon as you return home.
3. Hold A Digital Story Time
I believe in keeping routines.
I also love connecting with my kids over bedtime stories.
Even though we’re not having a conversation, for those few minutes we all focus on the same thing.
Keep the tradition going, even on busy nights.
Check out an audio book from your public library, or download one onto your phone.
Then listen to it one chapter at a time on the car ride home each evening instead of a bedtime story once you arrive home.
4. Check Homework Before Leaving
Make homework the very first thing that kids do on nights that you have to leave the house.
As soon as it’s finished, check it over and put it away so there are no tears or tantrums about getting it done before bed or in the morning.
5. Pack Lunches And Backpacks For The Next Day Before Going Out
As soon as the kids finish homework, they should pack it, along with anything else they need to bring to school, into backpacks.
They should pack lunch right after backpacks are ready and stick lunchboxes in the fridge to grab on the way out the door in the morning.
Don’t Leave Until Later What Can Be Done Sooner
Summer days are long and often care-free, with few obligations aside from the passage of time.
The transition to shorter fall days, filled with school, sports, and new year at work can be stressful.
So the last thing that you and the kids can afford to sacrifice is sleep and rest.
Yet many families choose between restful weeknights and afterschool activities.
Instead, split your children’s evening routines between the hours after school and the ride home in the evening.
Then your family can find time for all that you need and most of what you want.