During my time as a Nanny I have learnt some tips to save everyone’s sanity at those hard times of the day. They’re not really rocket science but I wanted to share them with you.
Preparation – having activities laid out for when you get home from school; whether it’s bricks, train tracks, books or play dough. Getting children focused on something can divert the tiredness and give you time to take your shoes off and put all of those bags down. I’ve also found it helps prevent arguments, as naturally the children go towards different activities. We’ve had far less arguing over the trains since I’ve used this technique – it’s all about preparation.
Also be prepared for hungry children. I always try to have drinks and snacks with me at pick up or close to hand when we get home.
I found these two articles very useful in understanding how children are feeling after a long day at school
Article 1 talks about children’s behaviour & the expectations of adults at home and at school.
Article 2 gives 25 different ways to ask children about their day at school.
Warning children – giving children a warning before leaving somewhere ie. ‘We’ve got 10 minutes until we need to collect your sister’. Or ‘5 minutes until we have to leave to go home for tea’. (I was complimented on this technique, which made me realise I was doing it)! But it would be just like if somebody told you you had to leave a party right now, you’d probably kick up a fuss! Whereas with a little warning you can say goodbye to friends, likewise children can finish up their game if you give them some idea of how long they’ve got left before leaving.
Having things to hand – if you’ve got to feed a hungry baby, but you’ve got a toddler tearing around too, make life easy for yourself. Have a little box of cars near your comfy chair, and let him drive them up your legs, if you can bear the tickles. Or how about a packet of stickers. Stickers can keep children entertained for hours. Some easy to print colouring sheets are also very handy for tired children.
Batch cook – I find myself going through stages in my cooking, it’s either stocking up the freezer (and therefore cooking everyday) or running the freezer down and using up all those meals. Batch cooking is a great help for a busy household, you can just pull something out of the freezer and serve it with some fresh veg for a quick and easy after school dinner. Stand by for some of our favourite recipes here on pocketnannies.
Encourage children to sleep – young children will need a nap during the afternoon, we suggest keeping this in place as long as possible. Children have a lot going on in their little lives and a sleep usually doesn’t harm anybody. Of course you know your child best, but sometimes a 20 minute cat nap after lunch may just see you through until bedtime.
Relax – this goes for all of us, we spend so much time rushing around and rushing the children in our care around too. Personally I feel it’s very important to take time to relax, to snuggle on the sofa and read a book together and talk about our day. Maybe even pop the kettle on…
What are your top tips for a calm lead up to dinner time? What have we missed?