Thursday, July 23, 2015

Our After School Routine

I posted our Before School Routine a couple weeks ago.  Since all three kiddos are starting school for the first time in a couple years (we homeschooled before), I am trying to get some things in place!  Here is our video of our After School Routine.  Below are some helpful links and information on how to set our kids up for success after school!

Our After School Routine from Eryn Jones on Vimeo.

Homework Helpers

Below is a list of the Sensory Aides seen on the video.  A couple you may not have seen, but we use them often for homework time.
  • Wiggle Seat (seen in video in pink during homework time) is GREAT for the propreoceptive challenged kiddo.  If you have one that tucks their legs on their seat and breaks pencils and crayons often on accident- then this seat will be your friend :)
  • Chewelry or Chew Tubes
  • Chewing is highly proprioceptive and calming.  Sometimes we simply use gum :)
  • For kids who are sensitive and overburdened by noise, a day at school can be a whole lot!  We use Noise Reducing Headphones (especially nice if there needs to be a store run after school and you have a child sensitive to loud/multiple noises), we use the ones in green in the video and also use This Brand.
  • For our older children, 8 and up, they can be especially burnt out at the end of the day.  All things alerting, like alerting essential oils (peppermint, lemongrass, rosemary), chewing crunchy, spicy, or sour foods, and adequate lighting for homework can set them up for success.  Sometimes we take stretch breaks with our oldest. 

All the Feelings

  • As I just mentioned with our older children, sometimes they are just plain fatigued at the end of the day.  They kept it together for a long time making it through school and they are just plain exhausted.  The best thing I can do to support my oldest in this is to validate her feelings.  ON occasion, I write a note to the teacher explaining that yesterday was just too much physically and emotionally and good homework was not in the cards.  I have found for the most part that teachers can be understanding of this when needed.  It doesn't help for me to push her beyond her limits to complete work that can be done at another time.  The main thing is that she knows I am on her side and will work with her to help her after school.
  • I try to pull up into the carpool line with low expectations.  I actually expect all three of my kiddos to have a meltdown at some point on the way home or to our next activity.  When I just have one or two (or the rare no one!) then I can be pleasantly surprised.  But I don't expect that to be the norm because of the multiple transitions, overwhelming sensory experiences, mental demands, emotional and social interactions with peers, and so much more that has already happened in the 7 1/2 hours I was not with them.  It's not that I don't have confidence in my children or their school, it's just that I fully understand what their internal experiences are like and I lower my expectations in order to increase my compassion for them and for the feelings they have when they get into our van!
  • The sensory time (below) is also a time where we can one-on-one process some things while the others are playing.  All this is best for my kids before homework time!

Sensory Time 

Our kids benefit from 10-20 minutes of sensory input, especially a propreoceptive activity every 2 hours.  Proprioceptive activities are ones that involve large muscle groups and deep muscle and joint input.  Jumping, climbing, walking, running, and biking all qualify.  I have found that this is best after being inside most of the day to get out and do one of these types of activities.  It really helps our children because the muscle and joint input is calming while the bi-lateral activity (right, left, right, left of walking and running etc.) can help them organize all that they learned for the day.  Win-win!


Here are a couple ideas for simple dinners.  I am hoping to have dinners mostly ready by the time school ends each day so I can really be with them after school.  No one ever said dinner needed to be fancy (I'm preaching to myself here!), but I do try to keep it as healthy as I can.
    Casserole with Chicken pre-made in crock pot
  • The crock pot.  Enough said!  One of my favorite things to do is put about 3-4 lbs. of chicken breast in the crock pot with a bottle of enchilada sauce or salsa.  I portion this off into two or three parts and freeze what we won't eat for that nights dinner.  I have tried the freezer meal planning and that just didn't work for us.  But I find that prepping the meat ahead of time can really help!  I will make tacos, burritos, burrito bowls, a casserole, soup, all sorts of things with the meat.  Our favorite is tacos.  So on nights when I do this, when I get home all I do is get out the taco fixings and dinner is ready :)
    Salad with this GF bread
  • Salad.  Never underestimate a large filling salad.  Our kids actually love them because they get to choose what is in them (from everything from Applegate GF/CF chicken nuggets to fresh fruit to dried cranberries!).  And they love "helping" with dinner when it's a salad night.  A simple vinaigrette dressing is nice or the Vegan Ranch which we keep stocked in our refrigerator.

    Smoothies packed with Hemp protein or nuts with fruit and veggies can be a complete meal with adequate calories and nutrition!
  • If we have to buy food out we try to avoid fast food.  A local Mexican place will suit our needs nicely for gluten and dairy-free.  However, I know you cannot completely avoid contamination with allergens when eating out so we try to limit it.  Fast food usually is more that 80% GMO food as well, so we try to have that be a very, very last resort!  We like Mellow Mushroom (obvs. from the video:), and we also like to find local grass-fed beef places, places that offer vegan options (because of allergies), and gluten-free options.  Click on those sites for more info for your area!
  • Also, smoothies or just fruit and veggie meals are a winner when time is tight.  On these nights, David and I will make something else for us after the kids go to bed and enjoy eating a little later and alone together!  A typical dinner on these nights for the kids looks like:
    • Organic baby carrots
    • Organic Apples, sliced or other fruit
    • Broccoli and Cauliflower (pre-cut and bought that way from the store!)
    • Hummus or Peanut butter or Ranch Dipping sauce
    • Non-GMO popcorn on the side

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