How to Start Your Afternoon on the Right Foot

after school

The world can be a tough place full of bullies, difficult math tests, and scraped knees. And if you’re a kid having a bad day at school – all of that can happen before lunchtime! So give your kids a soft place to land in the afternoon by greeting them with a smile and some occasional fun.

If you pick them up from school, try to put away your distractions before they hop in the car. Put away your cell phone, and don’t make any calls on the way home. In fact, go the entire way without picking up your phone at stoplights to check your messages. And, if you really want to kick your afternoon off on the right foot, have them keep their electronics put away too.

Here are 7 ideas for a great after-school afternoon.

  1. Prepare yourself mentally to pick them up. Clear your mind of work and other things so that you can truly focus on your kids and their needs.
  2. Turn off the radio in the car or, at least, turn it down, so you can have a real conversation about how their day went. You can use our After-School TALK Conversation Starters to get everyone involved.
  3. Every now and then, take the long way home. Pick up a smoothie or a milkshake to make the toughest of days seem sweeter. Stop off at the park for a little swing time or bring a blanket and sit by a river or lake.
  4. If your kids ride the bus, have a great snack waiting on them. They’re always starving after school {Tweet This} (Some classes eat lunch at 11 a.m. or earlier.)
  5. Establish an afternoon routine so your kids generally know what to expect. It might be an hour for snack and free time, then sitting down to tackle homework around 4 or 4:30 p.m. If they do homework at the kitchen bar, you can help while you get dinner going.
  6. Resist the urge to demand a grade report from them the minute they walk in or get in the car. This sends the message that they are their performance. Asking about other aspects of their day says, “You matter most.”
  7. Don’t forget to give big bear hugs to each and every child. Even the ones who make funny faces and pretend to hate it are getting their “love tank” filled with that squeeze! (Our Hug a Day Ideas printable has some fun hugs to try!)