I have found with three energetic littles that what we do in the afternoon can make or break our evening rhythm. There is a fine line to tread at this age (4 and 5) between over doing things and having over-tired kids or not doing enough and having kids bouncing around the house at 7pm bedtime!
I have found a little activity that we call Afternoon Nature Adventure time to be really effective in finding that balance. I can judge from the mood of the children how much we will do and for how long.
Afternoon Nature Adventure time is an outdoor circle time with songs, rhymes, storytelling, afternoon snack and lesson time for topics to do with nature and the local area. Our Afternoon Nature Adventures are a daily afternoon activity. We schedule our Monday to Friday adventures from 3pm – 4pm. But our Saturday to Sunday adventures could be anytime until 4pm!
When we return from our Afternoon Nature Adventure time the children know that once we walk through the back gate of our home we hang our shoes on the shoe rack near the back door. Once the children enter the house they know to put lunch boxes on the bench, then move on over to the homework station where notes, art work and homework are put away until later. The children finish with hanging their bags on their hooks.
To learn more about this area and routine, read our post Organising School Papers and Art Work.
It is essential to keep those hands busy while I’m in the kitchen preparing dinner. I give the children a choice of helping prepare dinner, free play or quiet time. My aim is to separate them with a task during this time as I cannot supervise their behaviour together.