I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that the journey home from school is often tough. I’m tired, the children are tired and we’re all ready for our dinner and want to relax before bedtime. Both of the children test me with their after school attitude, but in different ways. Theo is the vocal one, whereas Mia is quiet, she enjoys the peace when we get away from school after a busy day surrounded by chatter and noise. Theo always needs to talk about his day, the good, the bad, and everything in between. He requires a level of unravelling after school, and that combined with Mia’s need for quiet and calm usually culminates in lots of sibling bickering.
For a long time I’ve blamed myself for the after school attitude, I’ve wondered whether they just don’t like me picking them up or whether they’d rather stay at school than eat my atrocious cooking, but lately I’ve realised it’s not that at all. I am their safe place, just like you are to your children. They unravel because whilst they are at school, their barriers are up. As soon as they see us, their parents, they can put those barriers down again. Being a parent means we get to witness all the amazing achievements and milestones, but we also witness the exhaustion, lashing out and attitude. Nobody ever said parenting was easy, but sometimes, especially after school, it can feel like the hardest thing in the world.
It’s important to remember that our children spend 6 hours a day, 5 days a week at school. That’s 6 hours of concentration, 6 hours away from you, 6 hours of learning, so when you get them back, they are bound to unravel. We are their emotional punchbag, there is no escaping it, but with a few helpful tips and tricks, we can try and defuse the after school attitude and make evenings pleasant for everyone.
Below you’ll find some of the tips and tricks I use on a daily basis to conquer the after school attitude and avoid any sibling disputes. I always aim for the finish line, home, where we can close the door behind us, the children can separate if required and we can all unwind and enjoy each others company again.
If you have any methods or ideas for conquering the after school attitude that aren’t listed below please do feel free to get in touch via email firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment below.
- After school treats/snacks are a standard here. The children are given a little something to eat as soon as they come out of school to keep hunger at bay until dinner is ready. Both children eat well at school, but they burn off a lot of energy playing with their friends and learning, so they are usually absolutely starving by home-time. If they didn’t have a snack, they’d be HANGRY.
- I very rarely do anything in between school and home. We don’t pop into a shop or tick off any errands on the way home from school. Doing so prolongs the after school attitude, hunger and exhaustion. The children need to go home and unwind. Any jobs I haven’t managed to do during the day are left until the next day, for the sake of my sanity and the children’s!
- I never bombard the children with questions after school. At the most, I ask if they’ve had a good day, but I don’t request any details. Asking them both questions before we get home usually results in an angry response of ‘I forgot’ or ‘I don’t know’. Once they’ve unwound at home, they are far more willing to talk about their day and what they’ve done at school.
- Chat is kept lighthearted, we usually discuss my day rather than discussing theirs. I always try and make them smile by telling them about something silly I’ve done or reminding them about something they are looking forward too.
- As we get closer to home, I always try to remind them of the evening routine and politely request that they hang up their coats and bags when we get indoors. Gently reminding them that I’ll be putting dinner in the oven straight away and that they can play on their tablets/watch YouTube after they have eaten really helps to ease any residual stress.
And that’s it! 99.9% of the time, both of the children are perfectly chilled by supper-time, which means we can have an hour or so of calm family time before it’s time for bed. The difference a few small methods makes to our evenings is phenomenal, so if you are struggling with an angry or forlorn child after school, I’d definitely recommend trialling some if not all of the tips mentioned above.