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Inside: Discover an easy idea that will help you create the best after-school routine for your kids and enjoy an after-school schedule that works for your family!
Right before my son finished Pre-K two months ago his school announced to us that they offer an educational summer camp that was designed to help kids prepare for kindergarten. At first, the idea of an “academic-oriented” summer camp didn’t seem a good fit for us because I wanted him to have a playful summer, but he was very excited about the idea!
With me being in the third trimester of my pregnancy during the summer and having less energy for daily outdoor activities, we decided to give the summer day camp a try.
And it turned up to be a great decision!
Not only that the camp combines play and learning very well and B. has a lot of fun every day, but it also helped him (and us) get used to a daily schedule that is very similar to the one he will have after starting school.
Facing the challenging of adjusting to a structured school schedule before actually starting kindergarten is a great opportunity for us to find solutions now and make the first months of school easier for all of us.
One of the biggest (and unexpected) challenges we faced was the after-school chaos!
My son was tired after all the activities at school and this made him less willing to listen to us in the afternoon. Instead of being able to enjoy a nice time together in the afternoon, we would have unnecessary power struggles over almost every little thing he needed to do.
We even faced after-school meltdowns more often, and I knew that we needed a change!
I quickly realized that what would put an end to all the afternoon chaos in our house was creating an after-school routine that would work for all of us.
We already had a morning routine and a bedtime routine that he is used to follow every day, but the after-school routine seemed harder to implement because it involved a longer period of time.
During the morning or bedtime routine, he takes care of all the tasks one by one in a short amount of time. With the after-school routine, I needed to find a way to help him visualize when each of the activities ends instead of nagging him or reminding him of the schedule over and over again.
Luckily, I discovered a great idea that was exactly what I needed: the after-school routine clock. Ever since I first saw a picture of it on Pinterest I immediately knew that my son would love this idea!
How we use the after-school routine clock to create an after-school schedule that works
The idea behind using an after-school routine clock is helping the kids visualize each of the activities on their schedule and keep track of them more easily.
The color-coded clock shows them exactly what their schedule looks like. This makes it very easy for them to follow the schedule without the parent nagging them or reminding them the same things over and over again.
⭐ We combined the after-school routine clock with an after-school checklist and this system works perfectly! I never imagined it would be so easy to eliminate all the afternoon chaos in our home!
If you want to try this idea with your kids, here is exactly how we implemented it.
How to create an after-school routine clock for your kids
To put this idea into practice, you will need a few supplies:
- a wall clock (plus an AA battery that is not included)
- five different markers
- a color-coded schedule (you can download one at the end of this article).
(I also used these wire hooks to hang the clock and the schedule on the wall, but you can also use the clock’s hanging system and some tape instead.)
⭐ Here is how to create the color-coded clock:
- Start by removing the front part of the clock so you can access the white paper inside.
- Use the markers to color five sections of time depending on how you want your child’s after-school schedule to look like.
- Let the colors dry for a few minutes then put the clock back together and hang it on the wall.
- Download the printable after-school schedule (at the end of the article), personalize it with your own activities (if necessary), and print it.
- Use the markers to create the color-coded schedule that matches the clock.
- Display the color-coded schedule next to the clock so that the child can easily visualize the after-school routine. (I also laminated to schedule to make it more durable but you can skip this step if you want.)
What activities we included in our after-school routine
Every family has a different approach on how the after-school routine should look like, but I want to share our schedule with you in case you need some inspiration.
Our after-school routine includes 5 main activities:
1. Mommy & me time and Homework (between 3 – 5 p.m.)
We currently have a slightly different schedule because my son comes home at almost 4 p.m. He doesn’t have any homework now so we just spend mom & son time between 4-5 p.m.
When he will start kindergarten I will pick him up at 2:30 p.m. from school so we will spend the first 2 hours of the after-school schedule together.
Taking the time to connect with him after he comes back from school has a very positive impact on his mood, so I always start the afternoon schedule with some play and connection. Then I make sure that the first tasks on his after-school checklist are getting done (unpack backpack, putting clothes away, have a snack).
⭐ You can download our updated after-school & bedtime routine checklist from here. (I use this list to help him keep track of the tasks that he needs to do after school and before going to bed.)
This 2-hour interval also includes school activities (like homework or projects) because I don’t want him to get too tired and be unable to focus on the activities.
2. Play time (between 5 – 6:30 p.m.)
This time is designed for free play, so he decides what he wants to do. Usually, he spends this time with a friend who lives next to us, but he also likes to go to the playground in front of our house, ride the bike with his dad, or just play on his own at home.
3. Dinner & family time (between 6:30 -7:30 p.m.)
This is one of my favorite parts of the day because we get to spend time together as a family. Usually, after dinner, we play board games (our favorite one right now is Ticket to Ride First Journey) or card games, and talk about our day.
4. Bathtime & bedtime routine (between 7:30 – 8 p.m.)
We start the bedtime routine with a shower or bath, and then we use the bedtime routine checklist to help him get ready for bed.
5. Quiet time before sleep (between 8 – 9 p.m.)
On most days, B. goes to bed around 8 o’clock but he doesn’t fall asleep right away. Usually, he spends some quiet time in his bed either listening to audiobooks, playing with a toy, or “reading” books.
(We only follow this schedule during weekdays and we also have a different schedule once a week when we plan our family night and we have the whole afternoon reserved for family activities.)
Download the printable after-school schedule
If you want to put this idea into practice with your kids, you can use the link below to download our printable schedule.
You just need to print the schedule, and use the markers to create the color-coded schedule that matches the clock. You can either use the exact version that we use, or adapt it using the template.
I hope that this idea will work for you as well as it works for us!
More tips for moms:
>> Want to remember this? Save these ideas to your favorite Pinterest board!
preview photo from depositphotos.com