quiet-time Image copyright 2016 Erika Marie. All rights reserved.

This year, before the school year started, I decided to implement something new into our after-school time routine:

After School Quiet Time

Yes, it's as good as it sounds. I may have overly dramatized the title but really, it has changed our lives.

The idea came to me this summer after returning from a busy summer day of activities and errands with four kids in tow. By the time we got home, everyone had reached the end of their wits and jumped clear off into the deep, dark end.

Everyone got out of the van and flung the house door open and it was like a bomb went off. Everyone's pent-up energy and a day's worth of frustrations and irritations splattered everywhere. It was pure chaos. And I don't handle chaos very well. The only thing I wanted to do was hide in my bedroom for a while and do absolutely nothing. Except maybe eat chocolate.

So that's what I did and I made everyone else do the same. (But not the chocolate part.)

Everyone go to your room, put your watch timers on for 15 minutes, and stay in there quietly until then!

And, to my happy surprise, everyone did it! It was the best 15 minutes of that day.

No whining, no bickering, no questions or demands. Just pure silence. For FIFTEEN minutes. 

[Tweet "What's the best 15 minutes of the day for @_ErikaMarie_'s family? After-school silence!"]

Seeing how great that was for me and everyone, I decided to try and carry this over into the school year. So, every day, when we return from school everyone puts their watch timers on for fifteen minutes and stays in their room until they beep. They change their clothes, use the bathroom and wash hands, and then they can read a book or play with toys or just sit on their bed and stare at the ceiling if they want - as long as they are quiet! Sometimes they'll even take homework in and work on that right away to get it over and done with.

The only snag I encountered was that, after school, they are usually famished and can't seem to take another step without food. But I knew if we stopped to eat snack before quiet time it would never happen. So I went against my pre-motherhood days rules and decided to keep simple snacks in the van and let them eat in the van on the way home.

Gulp. Yes. I'm letting my kids eat food in the van. (Please don't tell my past self - she'd be horrified.) 

I make them eat over plastic containers and, if they make an big enough mess, I'll make them get the hand vac out and sweep up their crumbs when we get home. I know, I'm so mean!

After the 15 minutes of quiet time, everyone comes out and gets to have another more substantial snack before we get started with the rest of our after-school time routines.  (Side benefit to so many snacks - either less dinner to make or more leftovers for the next day's lunch - it's a win- win!)

It has taken some adjustment time - with a fair amount of grumbling - but for the most part, just that 15 minutes of quiet time has helped the transition from school time to home go much smoother. It's been a good time for everyone to diffuse a little before meeting back up again and moving on to homework and after school activities.

I'd love to hear what other families do to help make the after-school time transition time go more smoothly? Share your ideas in the comments! 


Copyright 2016 Erika Marie