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Please help me make after school time happier

(38 Posts)
Trickymoments Mon 04-Jul-16 19:37:40

I work every day to 2.30pm then pick up dd 4 from nursery & ds 8 from school.
The time between getting home and tea seems to be getting more difficult and to be honest not very enjoyable. I am grateful to be able to work part time so I can have the afternoons with them but none of my attempts at putting routine & structure in place seem to work & it's causing everyone to get upset.
To summarise the main issues are:

Snacks: DS is constantly hungry and wants snack after snack when he gets home. I insit this has to include something healthy but it's relentless ferrying to & fro with snacks. He has started raiding the cupboards which I have said he's not to do but he does it anyway. Should I just give up & let him help himself now as he is 8.5? He still always eats his tea but I do think it's odd how hungry he is and he has school dinners but he says he hates them.
Dd 4 sees ds having snacks so she also wants them but she is not good at eating her tea. She says she's hungry when we get in though so I let have something but then she cries when ds has more.

Eating & drinking: i've asked them time & time again to eat & drink at the table in the living room but they just won't listsn. Dd walks round dropping crumbs everywhere & ds huddles on the sofa with his! They leave their wrappers, bowls & cups all over the place. I've told them so many times to sit at the table but I'll pop upstairs & come down to find they've ignored me again.

Entertainment: Ds is only interested in electronics despite having a room full of toys & garden toys. I've offered to play swingball with him but he's not interested. He spends too long on electronics.
Dd will not be alone for 5 minutes! She wants me to play with her constantly.

Can anyone help please?

Indiaplain Mon 04-Jul-16 19:42:46

I've had similar issues, although mine are younger (3 & 5). Is there any possibility of doing something after school? I try and go home via the park, I take drinks/biscuits with me. I find it helps reduce after school grumpiness and screen time.
Or home for a quick snack then out on scooters or bikes for half an hour?
We also recently got a trampoline to entice them into the garden after school!

Trickymoments Mon 04-Jul-16 19:50:50

Sorry finished suddenly as phone died.
Basically my kids don't listen to me & don't seem to respect that what I say is what I mean. I am tired of telling them & it makes no difference. I've tried star & reward charts, limiting time on xbox, tv etc but it always ends badly.
They don't play together at all as 4
year age gap & if I do manage to get them in the garden they argue & fight & it generally ends in tears (mine!)
Tonight I'd cooked them a nice tea and my dd had 2 mouthfuls and said 'had enough' and ran off. DH walked in and I burst into tears.

Why am I so crap at this parenting thing? I just feel I have no control. How can I sort this out or is it too late?

By the way, neither of them behave like this at nursery, childminder or school so it must just be me!!

redcaryellowcar Mon 04-Jul-16 19:52:51

I'm not sure I've nailed it, but wanted to say we have similar issues (ds1-5 in reception and always exhausted and ravenous; ds2 -2 not as tired as still naps but won't eat of has snacked)
I take a small snack to school for them to eat immediately after collection and some water. I try to have an early supper sort of ready for 4.30, so they eat earlier than friends children, then I give them oatcakes and a bit of cheese and cup of milk just before they go for a bath? I also try to get them outside as much as possible and if not then we watch 20 minutes of to whilst I get their tea ready.

Bottomchops Mon 04-Jul-16 19:55:20

I feel for you. Sit with dh and come up with a set of consequences. Get ideas online if necessary, then sit with dh and tell the kids. Go back to basics. They will be used to this kind of thing at school.

Bottomchops Mon 04-Jul-16 19:57:08

I also give a drink and a snack then dinner by 4.30. It's hard cos they're shattered and moody. A bike ride/scooter for a bit helps.

Trickymoments Mon 04-Jul-16 19:58:58

Thanks India, we do always go to the park on Fridays but some other evenings ds has activities so I think he wants to go home & chill out for a bit. He seems to be going off the park as he gets older, he is still only 8 though, hardly a teenager!

We have a trampoline that they only seem to go on when we have people round, not often. We bought swingball this summer but he seems bored if it already. Dd will only play outside if I play with her. Sometimes it's even hard to get away to make their tea without her asking me to play just one more game of babies, shops, cafes etc...😧 I realise she probably misses me during the day but I am literally getting nothing done in the afternoons. Is this the same for all 4 year olds? I kind of thought by now she might be happy to play on her own for short amounts of time.

Trickymoments Mon 04-Jul-16 20:06:24

Yes perhaps giving them tea earlier might be a good idea, they usually have it at 5pm. That would rule lut having tea as a family though which is also on my 'ideal family' wishlist but it's too early for me & dh. Do other people eat with their dc? I'm really wondering if it's affected their table behaviour & eating habits not eating together in the week, we do at weekends.
Everything I try & do with them is one big fail!

Does anyone have any examples of consequences for an 8 yr old boy & 4 year old very feisty girl?! We've tried a few things and they've not had any affect. I want them to know that we have rules & there will be consequences if they break them but need to figure out these will be.

Banana99 Mon 04-Jul-16 20:12:04

I don't think she sounds unusual for a 4 year old, took my daughter until about 6 to want to play consistently on her own.

DH doesn't come home until 7 usually so we eat together then, try to eat as family at weekends

Bottomchops Mon 04-Jul-16 20:12:13

Mine are younger but hate being sent to their bedrooms. Whatever consequences you set must kick in the first instant they disobey you. I'd go in hard until they are back to acting with good manners and respect, then try being nice again.

DameDiazepamTheDramaQueen Mon 04-Jul-16 20:12:42

Meet him with a snack to eat on the way home. School dinners are usually minute and if he's just having cereal or small breakfast then he probably is ravenous.

Ds is 15 and wants to eat the second he gets in at 4pm. I give him a substantial snack and then he eats tea at 5pm at the latest! Dh comes in late so I eat with ds or at least sit and have a cuppa while he eats and then at the weekends we all eat together.

mrsclooneytoyou Mon 04-Jul-16 20:14:21

My dds are adults now but I remember this part of the day well .
I used to take a banana and drink with me at pick up.
Come in and they could play,watch tv or whatever for half hour.
Then I use to do them a early tea, although I would sit with them at the table and we would talk about our day
Then tidy around while they played
Then reading or spellings
Bath and bed routine
We ate at the same time once they were older

Bottomchops Mon 04-Jul-16 20:14:25

We were always taught that consequences should be certain not severe, so it's all about consistency.

Pythonesque Mon 04-Jul-16 20:14:33

It might be worth checking what time your daughter has lunch at nursery - often it is quite early. At one point I used to collect my daughter from school, take her home and have a snack, and only then collect her brother from nursery, as they had "tea" at about the time we would have been passing on the way back from school (? 3:30/40), and it was disruptive to collect him at that point. So my suggestion would be, try giving them both a substantial meal as soon as you get in, then your youngest has eaten properly, you've supervised their eating at the table, and just maybe you'll have a better chance with the next part of the afternoon. Then later can be a light top-up meal for your son and you don't need to be worrying whether your daughter eats or not at that point. My youngest needed to eat earlier in the day for quite a long while (eg when he was 7 he still ate much less at 5 pm let alone later, than he would choose to eat at lunch).

Good luck. Change one thing at a time and don't feel you have to find the perfect solution all at once.

Trickymoments Mon 04-Jul-16 20:19:22

I do send them to their room but it's often met with refusal and a long battle to get them there. This is what I don't get. If my parents had said that I knew I was in big trouble and would go but mine just say no!

I am a bit worried about the school dinners as he says he hates them so it's not great if he isn't eating much during the day. He wants us to let him take his own lunches next year but I could see him persuading dh to let him have a load of junk so I'm not keen on that idea!

Specialagentblond Mon 04-Jul-16 20:25:50

Hiya, I agree, bring tea forward.. Mine eat at 4-4;30, as they are ravenous after school. They don't eat their tea properly if I give them snacks and because they are so cranky they only want junk. They eat so much!

I also put them in the bath about 5;15 so they are fed and in their pyjamas by 6pm, to avoid bath time dramas when everybody (me) is exhausted later. While they're in the bath I get tea on for DH. he gets home for 6;30, we eat while the kids are more content to play. They have bit of toast/banana/fruit and milk and then we chill out for half an hour as a family before their bedtime x

Those are the days when we are not doing after school activities. That's another routine lol!

HTH x

smileyhappymummy Mon 04-Jul-16 20:26:19

One thing that has helped us with the electronics is putting a time limit on her tablet so that it just turns itself off after half an hour. It's reduced the amount of whining and conflict around it directly with us and it means I'm no longer so bothered that she gravitates straight towards it because I know it can only be half an hour.
We don't eat together as a family either even though I'd like us to in an ideal world. But it just isn't possible except at weekends.
Good luck!

Trickymoments Mon 04-Jul-16 20:29:04

That sounds really nice specialagent. It would feel weird to me cooking tea that early but maybe it might help. I have said to dd before we're having tea early today & she said I don't want tea, I want a snack! Snacks are a novelty to her I think wheras ds is actually ravenous!

DameDiazepamTheDramaQueen Mon 04-Jul-16 20:31:47

Do you have a slow cooker? Solves the early tea issue!

Trickymoments Mon 04-Jul-16 20:34:57

Thanks smiley. Can anyone else share their rules around time allowed on xboxes & other electronic devices?
The other day I said to ds we're having a break from electronics today so need to find something else to do. I went out the room and came back to find him staring into space, he didn't know what to do with himself which I found so sad.
He's got a room full of toys, games & lego. I might aswell get rid of it all.

Trickymoments Mon 04-Jul-16 20:36:13

No I don't Dame. How long can you
leave them for? I'm out at 8.00am back at 2.30ish.

DameDiazepamTheDramaQueen Mon 04-Jul-16 20:38:32

Yes that's perfect. Put it on before you go- you can get stuff ready night before and keep in the fridge in a Tupperware container then tip into the SC. They can be on for hours and hours on low.

funnysortofsummer Mon 04-Jul-16 20:40:06

Vague memory of moving children's tea to 430 ish. Small portion of cereal etc later. Otherwise, lots of snacks and grumpiness!

poocatcherchampion Mon 04-Jul-16 20:45:13

Take most of it out?

Not in a punishment way but there is quite a bit of evidence that kids are easily overwhelmed by too much stuff.

Mine are younger than yours so discard my advice if you like - but I second an early tea and into jamas and then you can all relax a bit. I'd save eating altogether for weekends and holidays.

My 4yo can play by herself for about 20mins but only earlier in the day. In the evening I give her things like colouring / hama beads right up close to me so I can do my thing and listen to her incessant chatter.

Also it sounds like you have got a punishment problem. Do you enforce it every time or are you a bit of a pushover?

I hope something here is useful

loosechange Mon 04-Jul-16 20:45:34

I used to put the tea on as soon as we got home. Now that isn't feasible they get a snack when we get on, and tea is on the table by five. We eat together at weekends. It doesn't work logistically during the week.

My screen rules are usually enforced during holidays. One hour of electronic time only. They can choose at what point they play it, but one hour only. Any arguing (proper arguing rather than a little whinge) and they will lose screen time the next day.

I haven't had to enforce it. Having enforced previous ultimatums they know I would.

I relax the rules if friends are over, or if they are all playing together with their dad on it.

My children don't always play together with that age gap. I settle for them not killing one another.

I do remember finishing work early once a week and you pick the children up from school and nursery. I had a romanticized idea of what it would be like. Family gum. Reality was tired tetchy children who grumped. I had imagined it would be like my non work days with them. It was painful.

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