So many parents post pictures of their children on their first day of school each year; bright eyed and sparkling in their new school uniforms … not so many post pictures of the return home after a few days at school. Pale or red-faced, grumpy or hyper and often completely uncommunicative and difficult to deal with. So how best to deal with the after-school blues?
Make a plan
Talk to your nanny and any other caregivers about an after-school routine. For many children the transition between a highly structured school-day and ‘anything goes’ at home can be less a relief than a free fall. Establishing what works for your child is crucial. For some it can be taking off the uniform as soon as they get home, having a snack and then sitting down for half an hour of TV before homework. For others it might be that they need to go to the park, beach or playground for half an hour to get their frustrations out of their system. Sometimes the children in a family need different things and then your nanny can help you work out how to balance their requirements. Perhaps a snack in the car on the way to the park, then one child sitting down with a book or educational app while the other runs around like a mad thing.
Feed the brain
Many parents find that there’s a blood sugar slump at the end of the school day. Which can leave the poor person who does the school run dealing with a screaming monster. Healthy snacks: a sliced apple with peanut butter, half a toasted bagel, some crudités with a savoury dip. These can make all the difference if your child is one of those who simply cannot function until they have eaten. Beware the sugary treat though – all too often it simply causes a further sugar crash later in the evening.
Hydration can be the solution
One huge problem with the school day is that children are given very little opportunity to hydrate throughout the day and even if they carry a water bottle. Smaller children often forget to drink and can end up experiencing the symptoms of dehydration. This ranges from poor concentration, to headaches, to grumpiness. Making sure your child has a small drink as soon as you collect him or her can stave off some of the negative behaviour that results form dehydration.
Ask or don’t ask
Again, this is one where knowing your own child really matters. Some kids need to ‘decompress’ and talk about the school day immediately. Others prefer not to discuss school matters until they are ready and view any questions about their day as ‘interference’. We’ve found that nanny is often perfectly placed to ask the questions about school. She’s slightly more neutral than parents and can act as an intermediary between children and adults when it comes to questions about how school is going.
Above all, remember that these things tend to level out by the end of the year. So even if your child is experience some difficulties in the first few weeks of school, those difficulties will tend to subside over time. If they don’t. Talk to the school about how you’re managing the situation at home as they may have suggestions that can help.