Tuesday, August 27, 2013

10 After School Down-time Activities

Going back to school can be difficult.

It's actually a very tiring experience even if you've done everything humanly possible to prepare for it.

So it only makes sense that when your kids come home from a long day of overwhelming socialization, learning, and self preservation they will need some time to decompress and unwind from the day.

But as a parent, what you don't want is your child plopping down in front of the television set for the next 3 hours and wasting away until supper.

At least, not every day.

And to keep that from happening in my house, I put together a list (yes, another one. I love my lists) of some great down-time activities for kids that will use their brains and help them chill after spending the day fighting for their lives and their grade point average.

1. Read a Book Ok, I know this is one that you read everywhere, all the time. It's shoved down our throats as parents from the day they are born. But, in all honesty, it is a really good one. As a person who loves to cuddle up with a good book I can tell you, reading can be one of the most relaxing things you can do. You escape to a different place and time and can just let the stress of the day go.

2. Let them Color For kids this is a great way to keep their brains moving (which apparently TV doesn't) but let them calm down and relax after a full filled day of school stress. And bonus, you get to hang all that pretty art work on your fridge!

3. Legos Again, a quiet activity that most parents already have sitting around their house. The kids can be together or separate (depending on their rivalry level), their brains are engaged, but they are chilling out and adjusting to the calmer pace of home.

4. A Sensory Bucket You can find ideas for this activity all over pinterest. They play, they learn, and its something new to them. What I like about this is that it can easily be changed up with new toys, colors, and even themed after the holiday/season. So it's never the same twice.

5. Playing Outside Another old classic that, unfortunately, isn't used as much as it should be. There is no better therapy for a kid than running, playing, yelling, laughing, and everything else that comes with being outside. And an added bonus is that they get a great night's sleep from all that fresh air.

6. Playing a Game Doesn't matter the game. With a parent, each other, or by themselves. It can be a board game, card game, hide and seek, or color matching, etc. Games are a great way to decompress and use some of the skills they've learned at school. Just don't use an app for that. We are trying to keep them away from the electronics for a bit.

7. Doing a Craft This one is a little more involved for the parent. But what kid doesn't like craft time. Cutting, pasting, glitter, and cereal...It's a mess in the making but what a great way to transition them from school to home and allow them the time to breathe while still keeping them engaged and thinking.

8. A Busy Book or Quiet Book I'm new to the concept of a busy book. But essentially, it's a book that you can either buy or put together yourself that is full of activities, games, color pages, writing pages, etc. that your kids can do quietly when they get home. You can print it all out and change it up day to day or use pages from other color/activity books that you find just about anywhere.

A quiet book is usually put together but I've seen ones you can buy at craft stores, fairs, and even some nice children's book stores. It's usually felt and every page is full of activities that they can do. And sometimes, for older kids, it has games like tic tac toe. My mother made some for my kids and I LOVE them. We use them weekly.

9. Quiet time boxes/bags These are a nice way to change things up from day to day with your kids (especially if they get bored playing with the same thing day after day). You have 5 separate bags or boxes, fill them with different things for your child to do or play with (like learning games, blocks they don't usually play with, etc) and keep them out of reach. When your baby comes home from that long day of school, you get one box/bag down for them and let them have at it.

10. Some Good Old Fashioned Play Time There is nothing as simple, as decompressing, and as entertaining to a child as some good old fashion play time. Them with their toys; there isn't anything better. I try to separate my kids when I want them to play quietly, but they have separate rooms so it's easy for me.

Sometimes your kids don't need structure, they just need to be a kid. Let them.

Being a kid in school can be hard work. And coming home from those long days of learning and social interaction can be equally as overwhelming if kids don't have a chance to relax a bit.

We as adults need this (not that we usually get it, but it's nice to think about) so it's not hard for us to get that our children may need this too.

And having a list like this makes it easy when we too have had a long day and don't really want to think.

Is there anything that you do to help your children relax when they get home from their busy days? Let me know, I'd love to try them for myself!


  1. Love the felt books :) Mr Potatoe head is on his way lol...

  2. I like taking my kids to the park when we don't have anything planned for the day. They get to have fun and burn off some energy. I remember when I was in school I always wanted to play before I started my homework.

    1. I usually would but since the school playground is the one we go to, I try to stay clear during the school year. Poor kid is there enough! Lol. But we have a jungle gym in the yard so that's nice.

  3. I definitely feel like down time is totally key for kids...that is why we limit after school activities a lot! Great post, with such helpful suggestions!-Ashley

  4. Great list, Kendra! My son went to mothers day out for the first time yesterday and he definitely needed down time when he got home. He was wired! He ended up sitting in a large box looking at books.

  5. Pinned your list! It's simple reminders like this that help us give our kids what they need lots of--and that is unscheduled time to just be a kid! Thanks!

    1. I agree. Studies prove that simple play time is the best way for kids to learn some of the most important developmental skills. I think we forget that sometimes.

  6. The most important advantage of a good after school program system is that it enlarges your child’s range of hobbies. He or she is acquainted with new things, at times fascinating, once in a while testing. Mastering another artistic expression or another expertise expands the child’s self-esteem. It additionally permits you to introduce your child to new career options.
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