I knew that starting school was going to be tiring for Luisa but I wasn’t prepared for just how drained she’d be. We went through something similar in her first term of nursery too but as she was that much younger I found the afternoons easier to manage – she’d often have a nap and was content to chill. This time around Lu does know she is exhausted but at the same time she still wants to do things. We’re three weeks in now and I think I’ve found my stride so here are my top tips for slow afternoon fun for your 3-5 YOs.
Maybe this is just Lu but I find that spending half the day in school with more limitations than she’s used to leads to a lot of pent up energy. Whenever possible we go to the park on the way home from school, even for 15 minutes. When we can’t
be bothered make it I try to make sure she has a scoot round the block later or we’ll do some kids yoga videos.
The most ‘difficult’ time of day for us is probably between 4 and 6pm. By then Lu has absolutely had enough so most days I try to dance around it by giving her some focus. Making dinner together keeps her busy, gives her something to feel proud of and increases the chance she’ll eat it. Winwinwin.
Remember ‘making dinner’ doesn’t have to be messy or stressful! Some days I let Luisa get stuck in with her safety knives but other times she’s content to sit on the counter and chat or stand on her stool and do some stirring.
If you have a younger child too this might be too difficult, you could try putting littlest in a sling or save yourself all the drama and invest in a slow cooker! My friend Katy has loads of really great family friendly slow cooker recipes.
Tuff Tray Time
These ‘Five Minute Tuff Spots’ from my friend Julie are fabulous because they are so easy to set up but they can engage your children for a really long time. I think sensory play can be really relaxing and I’ve found that when Luisa is tired she really likes to what I describe as ‘zone in’ on these kinds of activities. The only way I can describe it is the zombie look she has in front of the TV only with busy hands! If you don’t have a tuff tray these all work on a big sheet, cloth, tray or plastic box.
Julie has lots more play ideas on her blog – she’s a mum of two and a teacher so she knows what she’s doing.
When in doubt – take it to the floor
Have a picnic, build a cosy den, bring their favourite toys, books or even devices in. Snuggle up and have some chill time. Bonus points if you bring popcorn.
Some days the best thing I can do for Lu is to bring dinner and bedtime forward. You’ll know yourself when this is what your little one needs. As Matt does work later changing our schedule means missing him so I try to make it special by having a favourite meal with different colourful plates, grown up glasses or a pretty tablecloth etc. If I’m gunning for an early bedtime I’ll normally declare it bath time around 5pm. Lu loves a bath and it’s a good way to incorporate calming scents and nice relaxing moisturiser – after a big splash session of course!