The after school hours at home have been getting a little crazy around here. I named this blog “What Do We Do All Day?” because I was attempting to answer the never ending inquires I got as a stay at home mom about how I was spending the days with my child when I was “no longer working”. [insert eye roll] When both kids started school full time last year the questions began again. What was I planning on doing with all my “free time”? [insert eye roll] Believe me, there is plenty to do, even when your kids are at school.
The big question for me is not “what am I going to do while the kids are at school,” but what am “I going to do after school?” In the fall I began to dread the empty afternoons after the boys got off the school bus, especially as the days grew shorter and colder. It seems odd to think I dread the hours between 3 and 8 when I used to spend all day, unstructured, with the kids.
It’s all very well to subscribe to the parenting philosophy “let kids have their free time” but another thing entirely when that free time is spent fighting with your sibling in a tiny apartment while mom slowly loses her mind.
If you’ve been paying attention to my posts lately you may have noticed and increase in my attempts to increase family harmony. I’m often at my last nerve with the boys and their fighting and one thing I’ve done is to have at least one day a week in which I plan some sort of small project to do after school.
They are very simple and usually not blog-worthy, like the very ugly pinch pots we made from baking soda clay (get the recipe at the arm and hammer website) or the orange slice-icicles we made to hang our street tree. (Freeze orange slices in a muffin tin with water and a string.) Actually that was blog-worthy come to think of it, I just didn’t take any photos.
They don’t have to be complicated activities. Believe me, if I do them, they are not complicated. Even the novelty of drawing on the windows with markers was enough to keep them busy and not-fighting for a while. I often stop in the art supply store to look for something that might capture the boys’ interest. These window markers were just the ticket one cold day.
One day we made Valentine bookmarks, even after the boys had already gotten into their pajamas (they often do that early). You can see the results on our guest post over at Red Ted Art. (Notice how I turned all my incredibly awful photos into kitschy masterpieces with the online tools
at my addiction the online tools at picmonkey.)
We even decorated thank you notes with bubble wrap prints. (Hmm, that would be blog-worthy, had I a single good photo.)
I’ve been starting to make sure that at least one meal a week can be totally prepared by the boys. So far pizza toasts and quesadillas are on the menu those days, but I’m investigating other options (got any suggestions?). It keeps them busy and they feel proud of helping me.
So that’s it. There is nothing truly revolutionary about what I am doing, just baby steps to help me organize the kids’ afternoons during the winter months. It’s enough to increase the harmony and decrease the fighting, but not enough to make me feel stressed out about keeping everyone to a busy schedule of planned activities.
What do you do with your kids after school?