These after school routines will help your little ones get everything done they need to get done without the stress, meltdowns, or bad attitudes.
It still surprises me when kids start the day off well, then come home from school out of sorts.
Over-stimulated, worn out, and ready for some play… but still needing to get some things done.
Putting away backpack.
Not to mention this is the time you usually need to start getting dinner ready. A recipe for disaster really.
These after school routines you can twist and tweak and make work for your family.
Follow my 3 step system to organize your mornings, afternoons, and evenings to minimize the chaos and micro-managing.Learn More
After School Routines That Get It All Done
The key with the after school routines is to give the kids enough space from the school day to recharge.
They will have been overwhelmed all day at school with information and stimulus, then come home and likely want to veg out.
Or play loudly.
Or have super crazy after school attitudes you ain’t into.
What Kids Do As Soon As They Get In The Door After School
As soon as our kids come in the door, they are supposed to do two things.
- Take their lunchbox out of their backpack and put it in a designated spot.
- Get out their homework folders and put their backpacks in a designated spot.
This simple routine prevents a Back Door Pileup and from yogurt curdling inside the lunchbox because it was in some random corner of the kitchen.
Or maybe your kids are naturally more organized than mine.
Here are some “As Soon As You Get In The Door” routine ideas:
- Putting up lunchbox
- Putting away backpack
- Getting out homework
- Changing clothes (if you have “house clothes” like we do)
- Alone time (replacing independent play time since kids are slightly older)
- Snack (see below)
- Free play
- Screen time (see below)
After School Snack Routine
No after school routine is complete with out SNACK TIME.
We have a love and hate relationship with snacks over here.
➡️ The kids love them and I hate how much they ask for them
To avoid some blood sugar dropping and Hangry Attitudes, I like to give the kids a fairly substantial snack when they get home from school. Not enough it ruins dinner, but enough to keep them calm and able to finish homework.
- Designate a place in your pantry specifically for snacks kids can get after school.
- Make rules beforehand so kids know how much they can have. 1 Kind bar vs. 3, for example ????. #askmewhywehavethisrule
- Let the kids have the snack before you ask them to do any homework or chores. It gives them a minute to reset.
After School Homework Routine
If your kids are in the last half of Kindergarten (here in FL) or any grade above that, they will likely have some type of homework. It may take as little as 5 or 10 minutes or upwards of an hour, depending on their age.
There are different schools of thought, but if your kids are 5th grade and younger and homework can be done fairly quickly in one sitting, it’s likely best to do it before dinner. This way after dinner they can rest and relax with family and have an early bedtime.
Kids aged 5 to 10 generally need around 11 hours of sleep a night (source).
So… do homework first with incentives of play and family time afterwards to get it done in a timely fashion. Putting it off until later will make them less motivated and power struggles are more likely to result.
Chore Routine & Tidy Time After School Routines
We have certain chores we do every single day here, but they aren’t usually after school. We have morning routines, the evening sweep, and general rules of cleaning up a mess.
Sometimes, depending on the family, chore time in the afternoon is a great habit and routine. The key is to make it predictable and not expect too much or you’ll head into After School Meltdown territory.
They’ve had to sit still and pay attention all day so a bit of chores never hurt anyone, but too much can be asking for trouble.
I recommend using these printable chore cards.
Here are some afternoon chore ideas:
- Tidy room
- Empty (or load) dishwasher
- Set the table for dinner
- Clean bathroom
- Fold laundry
- Put away clothes
These checklists include all the tasks that need to be done in various rooms so that your little one can use pictures or text to help them complete a group of chores in one area.Learn More
Some families go between having screen time and not having screen time. Here are my general tips for avoiding screen time battles, FYI, but it’s wise to make a general rule of thumb.
If you do weekday screen time, do it after homework and chores.
Make screen time the carrot. If you try to turn off the screen to get them to do homework then, well, good luck with that.
This pre-dinner routine is where a lot of the “random” things will fall into.
Maybe you want the kids to bathe before dinner or clean their rooms or play board games with family. This isn’t technically part of an after school routine, but kind of counts since it happens before dinner time.
Because after dinner you are generally moving into the bedtime routine territory. Here are some things that might fall into your pre-dinnertime routine.
- Helping adult cook dinner
- Setting table
- Packing lunch and snack for the next day (grades 1st and up here make their own lunches!)
- Choosing clothes for the next day (if you haven’t already chosen clothes by the week, which I talk about in the school morning routine post here)
So here’s our after school routine
Use this for your own inspiration. Remember, the key to a good routine is keeping it!
The best way to keep a routine is to make it visual and you can do that with our visual routine cards.
Sample After School Routine You Can Use
- Unpack backpack, put away lunchbox
- 15 minutes free play / wind down
- 15 minutes chores
- Screen time
Remember that little ones work hard all day to sit still, pay attention, and please the teacher.
This means that nervous energy, frustrations, and emotions tend to come up at the end of a long day.
Give the kids grace.
Find a routine that works.
Stick to it.
Want your kids to learn to independently follow their routines? These visual routine cards do the trick.Learn More
School afternoon FAQs
With a good snack, some time to recharge, a lot of empathy and validation, and some clear boundaries. If your child has homework, let them have a bit of a break and a snack before starting. Avoid screens which will exacerbate the issue.
They’ve likely held it together all day and they now have some self-control fatigue. They let out their emotions and feelings at home because that’s safe to do. Help teach them healthy ways to express their emotions within your own family rules.
The best after school routine is one that allows you to settle down after a stimulating day. It will give you nourishment (snacks, cuddles from mom, etc.) and then provide a time and place for your child to do their homework. And even some afternoon chores.
Sure, why not! Our kids come home, put up their lunch boxes, get a snack, do their homework, and then do an assigned daily chore before going off to play. Certainly before any screen time, swimming, or playing with friends happens.
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how much alone time for a 9 and 12 year old?
Rachel Norman says
How much will they handle and how much will fit into the schedule? 30 minutes is for sure doable!