How to banish the after-school blues

Have you discovered that going back-to-school has made your child grumpy after school? Here are eleven ways to deal with it

Starting or returning to school may have a dramatic effect on your child’s behaviour at home, for the first week or so at least. Even if they are an angel in school, they might be anything from slightly cross through to really, really angry once you get home.

Sound familiar?

If so, why do the after-school blues happen? Well, it’s tiring getting back into the school routine, both physically and mentally. And if your child is using all their willpower to concentrate and do well at school, as well as get to grips with lots of news things and new people, it can be overwhelming for them, and in the midst of all this change, home is one constant place where they can let all of their other feelings and frustrations go.

As blogger Rachel wrote in her post ‘Dear boy, you can be unpretty here’, as a parent you are the safe space and sense of normality for all your child's after-school blues. However tricky it is for you to navigate!

So if you're all suffering in the after-school period, here are eleven ways to banish the after-school blues:

Feed them: Either give them healthy snacks or bring dinner time forward. Your child will have used up all their energy at school, leaving them to be hangry come home time. Take a snack to pick-up to help the journey home, too (more school run secrets in our new post).

Don’t bombard them with questions about their day: While you will probably be curious about how their day has gone, let them tell you in their own time. Or stick to simple, fun questions like ‘what was the silliest thing that happened today?’

Let them relax: Don’t feel they have to do homework or music practice or read their phonics book straight away. Make sure they have a period of decompression where they just do whatever they want to do.

Relax screen time limits: All parents have different levels of acceptability around school time. Your child might need to zone out and watch TV or a tablet, and doing this for a little while won’t hurt.

Take them to burn off energy: If sitting still at school all day has left your child with a lot of pent-up energy, take them for a quick trip to the park or let them run around the garden.

Limit after school clubs and playdates: Especially if they’ve just started school, they will be exhausted. Don’t over schedule their time in the evening, however exciting it might be to start lots of new clubs.

Try yoga or meditation: This might help them relax and refocus. Cosmic Kids Yoga has a brilliant set of fun routines, as well as some short guided meditations called Peace Outs.

Reconnect with them: Even if they are angry, try and connect with them before you correct them - give them a hug, sit with them and read, give them all of your attention.

Wind down before bed: Shut off all screens at least an hour before bedtime. Try and wind them down before sleep, with a warm bath or reading in bed (you know what works!)

Stick to an early bedtime: While they might seem too wired to sleep or will insist they’re not tired, they need their sleep - try and make sure they get enough.

Keep calm: It’s hard when you’re the focus of all the anger and release of tired feelings when it comes to the after-school blues, but they’re not doing it deliberately to hurt you. Keep as calm as possible, even if you have to grit your teeth.

Make sure you also read our post on mindfulness for the school run

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Alexandra Phillips

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