The other day I was helping my son with homework after school and I realized once again – school is work for children. School can be a wonderful place to learn and build relationships, but it can also be a time of stress for children for a variety of reasons. These fun and healthy ways to de-stress and connect with your child after school will also help them manage the days events.
A Daily Review
Making special time every day to review the day with your child is a supportive way to help them wind down from their day at school. For some, a daily review might look like the walk and talk home from school, a conversation during snack time or even the car ride to baseball practice. It’s a time everyday when you spend one on one time with your kids, unplugged and available. I know for me in my family, my children like it when I make their snacks and just check in about their day. It’s a sacred time where I can be there to validate them or answer any concerns or questions that might have surfaced during the day. When we offer a consistent way to communicate it offers our children an opportunity to share their emotional world and at times get the support they need for healthy emotional development.
Offer a healthy snack.
Your child’s developing body is growing rapidly, so frequent eating and snacking is a great way to help them de-stress and stay healthy. During snack time, it’s important to stick with whole grains, fruit, vegetables and healthy proteins. Some fun ideas might be to serve favorite breakfast foods like boiled eggs with cheese. I know my kids don’t like my protein smoothies, but for some reason when I let them create their own, they love them. Just prepare fresh fruit, milk, almond or soy milk, nut butters, etc. and let them be creative. Either way, just make it a healthy refueling time and an opportunity to connect and get grounded.
Offer Unstructured Play Time
I have a dear friend that once said to me “at the end of the day if my kids are clean, I haven’t done my job” and I agree completely. When we offer our kids an opportunity to go outside and play, we are offering them an experience to help their bodies, minds and spirits get rebooted and reset. In Kenneth Ginsburg’s book “Building Resilience in Children. Giving Kids Roots and Wings”, he offers helpful insights into why play is so important for families. He says, “play allows children to use their creativity while developing imagination, dexterity, and physical and emotional strength.” So as you open up the front door and the kids go running outside to play ball, build forts, find treasures, just know that you are offering a them opportunities that will inspire a lifelong habit of health and happiness.
Finding creative and fun ways to connect with your child and build family relationships is so essential for overall family health. Have fun with them and remember to use them as a time to openly communicate with your child.
Sandee Bandettini, MS, MFT, an Inspired Butterfly, is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist that offers resources, support and classes to nonprofits and schools on mindful ways to live healthy and happy lives. She also volunteers her time to various nonprofits whose focus and attention are on the health and wellbeing of children. For additional information, please see her website: www.SandeeBandettini.vpweb.com.