Yes, we are back in the back-to-school grind, and there is one big part of the routine you may not feel like talking about. That is, the aftermath. So school behavior is decent- they are exercising a great deal of self-control and striving to please the teachers….
However, after a few hours of working hard to remember and follow all the new school year rules, when they are back in the safety net of ‘mom’, children can crumble. And it can come as a shock when we are so glad to see them. But then, I am [abruptly] reminded that this happens each year. Here are some ways we can deal with after school grumpiness:
1. Keep it calm
No music or other distractions are going on at pickup. The phone is tucked away and mom is focused on deciphering the overall mood of each child. A simple “How are you? What happened today?” Some days it’s a quick move to head off arguments quickly, as in “if you can’t say something nice….” After the initial greeting, keeping quiet is usually for the best, allowing them time to decompress. We live near no stores, so running errands is not an option, but I think if we lived in town, we would benefit from heading straight home.
2. Use music
While quiet is usually what we need, there are times when the mood in the car is going downhill fast. Tuning into some soft classical or upbeat Christian music is our Plan B. It is amazing what music can do to lift a child’s mood.
3. Fresh air
If the aura is super sour, go ahead and open those car windows for a burst of fresh air. Sometimes they are delivered straight out of the vehicle and into the yard with a jumprope or simply a command to go run.
4. Hug ’em
We always benefit from big after school hugs. After hours of no physical contact, love tanks need filling.
5. Feed ’em
Often, food, particularly a little protein, is needed. Once we started packing more protein in the lunchboxes, after-school moods noticeably improved. My children typically like to get right to their homework- a habit we started from year one- but they need a snack as they work.
Finally, I can’t say enough about nonchalance- I’m such a fan, as it can be the only way around a child’s insistent argumentativeness. This has held true through various ages and stages for times when my brood is a moody one.
If you are witnessing the worst of days, you may need to combine strategies: keep it quiet, hug ’em, and send them outside with music and a picnic snack!