Tips for helping kids wind down after school
Learning new things, racing around the playground with friends, and sitting still for long stretches – followed by after-school activities galore – school can leave young minds a bit frazzled. We asked Mumsnetters to share their fool-proof methods for helping kids calm down, unwind, and leave the school day far behind them.
1. Talk it out
“My DS has, almost since he started school, given me the complete chronological recount of his day. It definitely helps him to unwind.”
2. Get some fresh air
“We’ve started walking home from school instead of taking the car for health/exercise/environmental reasons. It’s a 25-minute walk with the children. One other benefit we’ve discovered is that it really helps the kids to relax and unwind after the school day. We get to talk about their day and just take our time walking.”
3. Find your rhythm
“Having a routine helps because they know what to expect”
“Bath, PJs, snack and cuddle. We usually watch TV together for half an hour too. I think having a routine helps them to switch off.”
4. Don't underestimate the importance of snacks
“Snacks first – always!”
5. Shake it off
“We find changing out of work/school clothes and putting either our PJs or 'cosies' on really helps us to shake off the working/school day and embrace home life.”
6. Curl up with a good book
“We have a reading corner and read together for an hour. If it is a scary book we have blankets for snuggling and we use a torch – to read the books and make it more exciting.”
“My children love reading books to really calm down and unwind. Their books are kept in wooden storage boxes. We keep them on the floor in their room, contained within the storage box, but making sure all the books can be seen.”
7. Keep them busy
“We don't chill much after school. My DD who goes to school is non-stop until she falls asleep. We've recently bought a trampoline so that's the favourite post-school activity. We also play games, jigsaws, dressing up, cards, reading, drawing, board games – fit some dinner in there, a bit of TV, and done!”
8. Have a mini bake-off
“On Friday, when everyone is tired, we do baking. They have to be calm while doing it or they have to leave the kitchen so that helps avoid the overtired racing around that they would otherwise be doing. They then either decorate and eat what they've made, which means they get a home-cooked snack and a chance to sit down and eat. It's become a bit of a routine that we all enjoy.”
9. Get crafty
“Painting together so we can chat, without it being the main focus, is great.”
“As a parent, I struggled with organising their various activities and hobbies at home. How can it all be used whenever they want to (as these things are things that help them unwind and be creative whilst they relax) without it all being messy and mixed up? Last month I finally cracked the code. I purchased the stackable Kuggis storage boxes from IKEA in the largest size. Each box is labelled: one for patterned paper/card, one for stickers, one for paint, and one for playdoh and clay.”
Tailor your space to suit your family's needs
We all know that every child is different. The same applies here: where one might like to sit and colour, another might want to play football in the garden. The secret is to make things easy for them, keeping all their favourite things organised and easy to find. That way they can happily while away the hours with minimal fuss.
Speaking of reading, a great way to nurture it is to give your child a dedicated space just for them and their books. Keep theirs on the lowest shelf, give them a comfy chair to settle into and they’ll be away.
Arts and crafts are a great way to relax too, and brilliant way to nurture your child’s creative side. Encourage their inner Picasso by keeping all of their supplies in easy to find containers right by their desk. Don’t forget to keep your carpet from turning into a masterpiece though – a plastic floor protector is a lifesaver here.