It’s a big dilemma. Now that school is back in session parents everywhere are struggling with what in the world to do with their circus animals after the show is over. I have gone through different seasons in my life and I am sure there are many, MANY more to come. But for now structure is our friend. At least my own hippy-dippy version of it.

J and I have coordinated in regards to this schedule and there are still a few things left to tweak, but for the most part this is it. The whole shebang. What we do after school, when we do it and why.

4:00- 4:10 Take off shoes, unload back packs/lunch boxes, and get a snack

We don’t get home from school until about 4:00 and the first thing you have to do is unload. Also, most of us are hungry.

4:10-5:00 Watch TV

We have cut the TV down to 90 minutes maximum during school days (30 in the morning and an hour after school). If you knew our “after school taxi routine” you would know why it is completely exhausting! So immediately after we get in the door seems to be the best opportunity to veg. I know not everyone does it this way, but I prefer it and the kids like it too.

5:00-6:00 Go outside weather permitting, otherwise play in the basement

Sometime between school and bed the kids are going to have some energy to burn. This is the hour to play hard and get exercise. Thankfully I don’t have to be as creative in this area as when we lived the apartment, but if that is the case for you hang in there. It can be done.

6:00 -6:30 Do chores

Chores are really important in our house. This is one that I adjust accordingly. They don’t all have to get done in this time slot, but I at least want to know that there is some allotment for them regardless of how it’s distributed.

6:30-7:00  Eat Dinner

I originally scheduled more time for dinner, but we didn’t need it. The kids (ages 2, 5, and 7) won’t stay in their seats for that long.

7:00-7:30 Homework or shower

This slice is kind of flexible because at this age my kids rarely have homework and they rarely shower. I’m joking. Kind of. Anyway, this little sliver of time is negotiable depending on our needs for that day.

7:30-7:40 Brush teeth, go potty, put on PJs

Sometimes they don’t want to use the restroom, but at this age I make them try and I tell them full stomach+empty bladder=good nights sleep. That’s my theory.

7:40-8:00 Read Stories 

I don’t think I really need to go into all the numerous benefits of reading aloud to your children. I haven’t done it every night of my child’s life that’s for sure, but I try to make it a priority. This is our 20 minute block of reading time and the dynamics are really fun right now because sometimes Z reads to the younger siblings, or J will read a more advanced story with Z in another room. It’s worked out really well!

8:00- Lights out 

Can I just say that my children have NEVER had a bedtime this early. They total night owls and I have always been envious of parents that have hours to themselves after tucking their kids in at 7:30. There are many reasons I think this earlier bedtime is going so smoothly right now, but what I attribute it to most of all is not having a movie or tv show before bed. I used to see the TV as a nice way to wind down. I mean, who hasn’t fallen asleep during a movie or a late night show or two? Research shows otherwise though and after the results I’ve seen I have definitely become a little obsessive about no screen time at nighttime during the week. One day during chore time someone turned on the TV and was watching Rescue Bots and when I saw it my eyes got all crazy, my hair turned green, and I started flying around the living room on a broom stick screaming TURN THAT TV OFF!!! NOW!!!!! It wasn’t that bad, but I did overreact a little and I have repented. That’s really how passionate I am though.

There you have it. My schedules are always subject to change and of course stuff coms up, but I really see this one working for us. I hope to keep it up throughout the year.

Do you have an after school routine?