This post is sponsored by Pepperidge Farm but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.
The Spring/Summer park season is here and those after-school activities are in full swing. Whether it’s a playdate with a friend or team practice, we all want to conquer after-school chaos and have parenting run smoothly. Elsie is eight and she is one busy girl! I, like all parents, want to do what’s best for her, but often it’s overwhelming to squeeze in homework, activities, dinner, and bath all before a sensible bathtime. Especially as I have her two toddler brothers underfoot!
I often have to remind myself that Elsie is still a child and it is normal for her to daydream, forget instructions and have others things on her mind other than sticking to a schedule. She doesn’t feel the same mental chaos that I experience when I’m trying to juggle general mom-life… and good for her. There are ways to deal with the after-school chaos, even if you have to get a little creative, here are my five tips for staying sane…
1 Make it a Game
This tip came straight from my daughter’s 8yr-old school friend. I’ve renamed her ‘Life-Coach Emma’ because she’s full of useful life hacks for self-improvement. Life-Coach Emma advised Elsie to plow through the more mundane pieces of school work by seeing them as a game. The same applies to dull activities like getting ready for afterschool activities…
There are plenty of ways to jazz up boring tasks:
- Time a task using a stopwatch. The power of the timing children is incredible, I call it the stopwatch phenomenon.
- Make it a challenge. This may seem counter-productive… surely you want to make the process as easy as possible? But easy is boring! Hide things and give them a clue, hang their leotard from the ceiling fan and make them jump to get it… anything to engage them into taking action!
- Offer a prize. I’m not suggesting you invest in a toy everytime you want your child to get ready on time, but offering them a favorite snack if they get ready is a good incentive.
I put all three of these ideas together to come up with the ultimate Goldfish Colors crackers challenge for getting ready for soccer. We only have a small window of time to get ready so she has to be quick, or Mom starts eating…
For more fun ideas for games, recipes and general Goldfish fun, check out their Pinterest page –> here. It’s amazing how creative some Moms have got with their Goldfish crackers… after all they are baked with real cheese and kids and parents alike love them!
2 Be Mom-Organized
It’s easy to get grumpy with the little ones when you find them playing with the cat again instead of getting ready. But how often have they gone to get their sports kit and it’s not in their drawers? Or is that just me? I have been caught out so many times and find myself running loops around the house checking the dryer, the folding pile and with squinted eyes… the laundry basket.
If you only have a small window of time to get ready have it prepared like a well-oiled machine. When I’m not making a ridiculous Goldfish Colors obstacle course, I put a pile of clothes ready to go on the kitchen table while I’m dealing with washing earlier in the day. I’m already sorting through clothes and that way there’s no “I can’t find it!” while they stand there staring straight at it… the child blind spot struggle is real.
3 Think Outside the Box on Mealtime
Dinner time is the crux of the matter when you want to conquer after-school chaos. We have to be at soccer for 5.30pm… do we eat before or after? If Elsie gets changed too early she’ll be covered in pasta sauce in her sports kit, if I push dinner any earlier she’ll be eating at 4 pm. Wait until afterward and she’ll be starved… she’s pretty dramatic when she’s hungry.
If it’s not working, try something new. Maybe bedtime is a little later once a week and they get to have dinner after practice? It’s OK to break the schedule, and they’ll be perfectly happy with a snack to keep them going. Goldfish Colors are a snack you can feel good about serving your kids because they are baked with real cheese, have no artificial flavors or preservatives, and the colors are sourced from plants.
More on Those awesome Colors:
The red Goldfish crackers are colored using a mix of red beet juice concentrate and paprika extracted from sweet red peppers. The green Goldfish crackers color comes from watermelon & Huito juice concentrates mixed with extracted Turmeric. I really had no idea until recently that Goldfish Colors are naturally colored! For more info on Goldfish Colors can be found –> here.
4 Allow A Moment of Peace
Although you may want them to come straight in the door, swap clothes, eat, do homework and make it to the car on time, they’ve had a busy day! School is intense and it’s important to find a slot for a little downtime. Sometimes after-school schedules are madness, but even if it’s five minutes… take a moment to talk about unicorns or allow them to cuddle that cat.
5 Conquer After-SChool Chaos by Embracing It.
A few months ago I was diagnosed with anxiety… this means I can get really stressed about the littlest things. I’m talking heart palpitations over being late… I should realize by now that I’m often late! I have three kids to get in the car and two of them are toddlers so it’s literally two steps forward, one step back. I’m not suggesting you just give in and admit defeat, but sometimes life happens and getting wound up and shouting does nothing for all involved.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed in trying to conquer after-school chaos just stop for a moment and breath. Take a break (heck, eat some more Goldfish Colors while you’re at it), and take a moment to laugh.What’s the worst that can happen? You miss warm up this week? You get a late note from school? It’s not the end of the world and it’s far more important for kids to arrive feeling supported rather than bundled out of the car at top speed. I need to take a load off more often. We can’t all be Alpha Mom Extraordinaire 24/7… sometimes we need to conquer after-school chaos by embracing it.