I thought I'd share a couple of ideas I've had about getting through the post-school grumps. I'd love to hear any strategies that you have.
- In the last couple of years I've started to take food to give them when they come out of class. Recently, because it has been so disgustingly hot I've been taking a little esky with icypoles for the kids. It gives them something cold to eat, gives them a bit of energy from the sugar and stops them getting quite as annoyed with each other! In winter I usually take some home cooked biscuits or muffins. Or little packets of biscuits. Just something small that is a treat for them.
- We also walk home as much as possible. Even though this prolongs the public humiliation aspect of the afternoon, I find that walking home gets a lot of the pent-up energy out of their system. By the time we get home most of the frustrations of the day have been shared with me and so they're a lot calmer when we walk in the door.
- I try (emphasis on TRY!) to stay as calm as possible. Getting grumpy with them just escalates the stress. I do find myself saying repeatedly, "Let's speak kindly to each other" or "I think you need to say sorry to your sister for speaking like that" or "Let's try that conversation all over again". And lots of deep breathes in and out on my part!
- We've had weeks when they get prizes at the end of the week for behaving well on the way home from school. Just to break up the pattern of behaviour that becomes a habit. And to encourage the kids to take responsibility for improving the way they are behaving.