We change the routines and systems in our home as our family circumstances change. What works one year may not work the next as our boys grow and our workloads change.
On days that I’d pick the boys up from school after teaching for the day, we were struggling to transition from school/work to home life. As a result? I was frustrated, the kids were frustrated and there were more arguments than there needed to be. Afternoons were a pain point in our day.
I knew that our afternoon routine wasn't working anymore - but I wasn't sure what needed to change. Over the next few weeks I made an effort to be more aware of particular things that weren't working and to make note of them.
Some of the things I observed:
Doing homework straight after walking through the door from school wasn't working for the boys.
I was less patient/understanding in the hour after I returned home.
We were making very quick dinners every night because we didn't have the energy to make the meals we used to.
I trialled what we now call ‘Transition Hour’ for the first hour after returning home each weekday and noted the positive changes to the way our afternoons ran and how we felt.
Our new afternoon routine looked a little like this..
As we came in from the car after a day at school/work, the only thing that needed to be done in the first hour was to bring our bags in from the car and unpack our lunch boxes. The rest of the hour? Free time - for both the kids and I.
The boys would do whatever they needed to do to wind down - take a shower or bath, play outside, read a book or ride their bikes. It was their choice (within reason) - minus the choice to use technology during the week.. that was the only non-negotiable.
In the hour after returning home we did no homework, I didn't jump straight into dinner prep or work online and instead, used the time to transition back into mum/wife-life. And you know what? It worked beautifully!
Whilst I was afraid that the hour after transition hour might have been more hectic and we’d pay for our hour of winding down… that didn’t end up being the case.
Dinner was made, homework was done and we worked much better as a team.
It helped the boys to see an example of give and take. I gave them the hour to wind down and do what they needed to do after a big day at school and in turn I expected them to do their homework and work as a team once the hour was done.
Will it work for everyone? Probably not. No one knows what your family needs more than you do, but if you do happen to notice that a particular part of your day is consistently not working.. can I encourage you to make one, small, positive change?