Do you find yourself struggling to enjoy the hours between after-care pick-up, dinner, and bedtime?
First, you are not alone. I think it’s safe to say that all Mom’s, working and stay-at-home, feel this.
Evening’s are a mad rush for families and there are a lot of factors that contribute to a stress-prone environment. As a working Mom who has experienced working from both out of the home and in the home, I want to share my simple, successful, and realistic tips for positively changing the way you manage your evenings.
I have two goals for preschool pickup. One, give my son a hug. Two, bring a snack. It’s that simple and that important.
He doesn’t always want to hug, but it is a gesture to reassure him I’m here and that whatever has happened throughout the day can be released.
Bringing a snack is huge because it combats the “Hangry-tude”. Plus, it holds him over until we can get home and dinner is prepared.
It is no easy feat to put on a family dinner every night of the week. That snack is a gift of time. It allows me a little more time to prepare a meal and gives my husband time to make the commute home.
Your daycare/preschool pickup strategy may look different, but I suggest focusing on two elements that you can be consistent about.
1. The first element should provide a source of connection and reassure your child that “you’re back and you’re there for them”.
2. The second element should be geared towards facilitating the transition between daycare and home. This could be a snack or a familiar phrase, like “how’s life?” which would be particularly helpful to a child who needs to decompose the day through verbally connecting.
Dinner can be a constant struggle! Especially when you have a 3-year-old who will, on average, spend less than 5 minutes at the table and tell you he doesn’t like anything on his plate, right?
First, let’s look at the roadblocks:
- Time – it’s a mad rush to get home, get something cooked and on the table (SuperMom Tip: invest in a crock pot! <<affiliate link>>)
- Picky Eaters – it’s a challenge thinking of one dish that will please the family and the picky eaters
- “What’s for dinner?” – this thought can be stressing you out every day after 3 PM
- Clingy Child – on any given day there may be a whiny, clingy child hanging on your every move/leg in the kitchen
Now, for some solutions:
- Meal Planning – Set up a basic system that gets you planning dinner week by week to eliminate the question, “what’s for dinner?”
- Consistency – If you let your toddler eat something different than everyone else in the family at meal time, it’ll quickly become a habit and more work for you! Be consistent.
- Screen time – I’m guilty of this one but it works! My son comes home, we unpack and he gets to watch about 15-30 minutes of a show while I prepare dinner. There are many perceived negative connotations about screen time but I don’t let this one bother me as much as it used to because it is a way for my son and me to reset after a full day of preschool and work.
- Get Help – Is there a reasonable and realistic person (grandparents, extended family, babysitter or neighbor) that could help you? It could be a freezer meal or assisting with a pickup. Even if it’s one day a week, heck I call ordering pizza “help” and I do that once a week, so only 4 days left I have to worry about!
PUT IT IN PERSPECTIVE
Think of daycare or preschool like work. Your child may go to a facility for 8-ish hours a day. It doesn’t matter whether it’s highly structured or not.
There is still an expectation for a child to keep him or herself composed throughout the day. There’s a lot of sharing, restraining from just letting it all out, dealing with complex emotions, feelings of being “homesick”, and simply building an emotional and social intelligence for the World around them.
It’s a lot to keep it all together! Just think about how hard it is to maintain your composure all day with co-workers, bosses, and/or customers that drive you crazy.
IT TAKES EFFORT!
After a day of effort – we need a release, a break or a moment to collect ourselves before evening expectations, routines and tasks commence.
Commit to finding a way to give your child that time. Assess their personality and determine what type of release best fits their needs. Some examples below.
- Will your child need comfort? Do they need to emotionally connect with a caretaker for 10-15 minutes before continuing evening activities? This might involve cuddling up and reading a book with no distractions before to-dos are tackled.
- Will your child need to exert physical energy? Similar to adults who go to the gym or a long run after work, a child may need to jump on a trampoline for 5 minutes or find another form of big body movement that helps them reset.
HAVE A ROUTINE
This is something I preach and practice. Not every day is perfect, but the days and weeks where our routine is consistent – life is better, it is more controlled.
Anxiety is removed from our evenings and tension is lowered. When we fall off track, everyone’s on edge knowing that one wrong move could lead to an epic meltdown.
We follow a bedtime routine that embodies the three C’s.
This truly makes all the difference for our family. It gives our child reliability in the home and it gives us, parents, time to regroup for the next day and connect as a couple.
Related Post: Toddler Life: 6 Ways to Master the Morning Transition
When your child attends daycare or preschool, full or part-time, it can be hard to find that quality one-on-one time. The nights run together and everyone is just hustling through the week.
To break up the working week or have something to look forward to, I plan a “date” with my son. This helps to give us time to connect and it is a great Mom Strategy to help you get through your week!
“Date Nights” are special events in our house that can be earned with chores and reading time, check our system out!
IT TAKES TIME
Staying patient while we undergo a tough sleep phase😴😴 . . . #thismomslife #momblogger #toddlerlife #toddlersleep #nosleep #patience #routine #momlife #raisingtoddlers #itsatoddlersworld
44 Likes, 7 Comments – Bridget | This Mom Life (@bridget_thismomlife) on Instagram: “Staying patient while we undergo a tough sleep phase😴😴 . . . #thismomslife #momblogger #toddlerlife…”
I always remember this statement as we go through the phases and growing pains of raising a child under 5.
Just last week we sent my son to a sleepover with a grandparent and days to follow consisted of adamantly fighting bedtime because the comfort of his routine was disrupted. As parents, we need to have patience and understand that [re]establishing a routine takes time.
This thought is one I want to share with you because it will help you breathe and remain calm during those windows of self-defeat, insecurity or guilt.
As new Mom’s ending their maternity leave, re-entering the workforce, or sending kids to preschool for the first time, know there will be rough moments where you will power through. Keep these simple tips at the forefront.
I would love to hear from you, what is your secret to keeping the evenings enjoyable?
Related Post: 23 Morning Hacks to Make Mom Life Easier
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