The After School Routine That Really Gets My Kiddos Sharing the Good Stuff!

I couldn't go without sharing back to school pics. It's a tradition around here :) 
I know every Momma says it, but I can't believe how BIG our little chicks are getting!

These next couple of pics are proof that they think I'm still funny...
I told them that maybe this was the year that they'd get kissed by a cute boy in class.

And that if they liked it... I'd spank them when they got home. LOL

Dang it I love these girls so much.

While I won't pretend that I'm super sad that they went off back to school (because I'm just not; we were ALL more than ready), I AM missing those smiley faces that kept me ridiculously busy all Summer.

The real thing I wanted to chat about today though, was our little after school routine we have goin' on so far this year.

I'm sure that every household has their own way of coping with the constant stream of information, homework and extra curricular activities that need to get done after school each day, but I wanted to share mine, because it's been working REALLY well and I've noticed a big change in my girls' attitudes from last year to this year - especially as I've gotten to know each of their personalities a lot better.

1. School is a whole lot of busy and mind overstimulation - Let them relax for a bit!
When my girls come home, I 100% do NOT expect them to get homework, reading or piano done the second they walk in the door.
For my chicks, they need about 30 minutes of quiet time. This could be resting, zoning out in front of the TV/iPad, or just cuddling with one of our pups for a bit. I know this can't happen EVERY day, because sometimes schedules don't allow for it, but MAN, I can't tell you how much HAPPIER my girls are the rest of the night if they are allowed this precious downtime.

2. Every kiddo is different; therefore they all need individual attention.
It's probably just my nature, but I CANNOT handle when my kids start spilling their entire day onto me all at once. I want to pull my freakin' hair out!
For this reason, I've tried really hard to enforce kiddo and Mom 1-on-1 time with each girl.
I will love on them for a minute, empty their backpacks/look over homework due, and then most importantly, talk about their day with them.

3. Asking the RIGHT questions.
I've been guilty of being a "Did you have fun today?" parent. Literally this would be the ONLY question I'd ask my kids when they got home from doing whatever it is that they were doing. 95% of the time the answer was "Yeah, it was fun", and then not much else. 
I read an article recently about dropping that specific question, and instead asking better, more thoughtful, conversation probing ones; such as: 
- What was the best part of your day today!?
- Where you ever frustrated/mad/annoyed at anyone or anything today?
- What was your favorite thing you learned?
- Did you ever feel scared today?
- When did you practice being kind or helpful?
- Was today a good day, or a bad day - and why?
I know, I know... it will feel weird at first to ask some of these questions, especially if your kids are older and not used to them, but I promise you after only a few days of this routine, nobody will think anything of it... and HOLY COW you can get some really good information from your kids about the most important and impactful parts of their day!
It gets them thinking, feeling and connecting with their emotions, so much more than when you just ask... "Did you have fun today?".

Just try it. For me it's really helped my more private children open up a lot more.

Of course while a lot of this is happening, naturally the girls are split up doing their own thing. Homework, music practice, etc... and it's worked REALLY well!
I think the biggest key to success for us, is to make sure nobody is bugging anybody else; this way they can all stay focused, and there's no drama (ugh, girls and their whining, screaming and complaining when they start bugging each other. It's enough to send me over the edge sometimes!)

What's YOUR after school routine like?
Do you find certain things work better for you than others? 

Cute homework stations and yummy snack ideas are awesome for back to school kids, but really, that individual time when you stop and REALLY talk with them about how they feel, is just SO important I think.
Promise me you won't get so busy or book your kids into so many after school activities that you forget to really bond with them, okay? Because even though your kids may be small now, I have a feeling that one day, they'll stop sharing so much, and we'll all be sad that we didn't have those lines of communication open sooner.



  1. What settings on your camera did you use to get such great back to school photos?

  2. That's an awesome idea :) I know when my son used to come home from school, I would let him have a small snack because of course dinner would be soon. I would tell him, if you do your homework soon, you can get it over with, then have the rest of the night for whatever. I do agree though, that they really need time to unwind. The time they are in school is almost as long as a work day and I know when I get home from work I don't want to have to jump into more work right away :)

  3. First of all, PRECIOUS girls!!! And secondly, thank you for this thoughtful post - I love good conversation starters!!

  4. Really good communication ideas here. My son started high school this year, and when I ask him "how was your day", the standard answer is "good". Period. I've just been thinking the last couple of days I need to ask different questions, specific questions about classes and friends.
    p.s. your daughters are really beautiful - such great smiles.

  5. Love it!! This year's been a little better with sharing but generally after school my daughter has NO interest in talking! And I agree...downtime is so needed. I know I'd need it! :) Thanks for sharing these tips...really like the questions!

  6. I have read this somewhere else too! Thanks for the reminder...this was GREAT!! I have a really hard time getting my girl to open up to me about school, it's always one word answers or "I can't remember". I too let her have some down time before homework, I just don't think it's fair after their long day at school to push them right into homework :)

  7. Great ideas in this post! And your girls are gorgeous :) I think there's a big difference from girls to boys in how to handle the after-school routine!

  8. Such a great topic and reminder!!


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