With just a week to go until half term it’s fair to say my four year old is more than ready for a holiday. She has loved school since starting in September. But one of the side effects of school – a side effect I hadn’t bargained for – is that she’s both hyper AND exhausted at the end of the day.
After a particularly bad bedtime one night I realised I needed to come up with a plan to get through those tricky hours between school pick-up and bedtime. My friend Katie (hi Katie!) is a primary school teacher and she texted me a load of ideas to help. So this post is largely down to Katie – I can’t claim credit for these ideas.
1. Digging for mini beasts
Getting outside (even in the rain) is, for us, the best way to run off that hyper-active energy that seems to explode out of my four year old at the end of the day. Our garden currently resembles the before shots of a Ground Force special, so we’ve made the most of the mud by getting outdoors and searching for mini beasts. I’ve found just being outside has calmed Frog down and avoided her bouncing off the walls before tea teatime.
2. Hama beads
We’re only recent converts to the joy of Hama beads. I remember making Hama creations as a kid, and my blogging pal Merry from Patch of Puddles has long since advocated the benefits of Hama beads. This is a great activity for helping my four year old stay calm, focused and become totally immersed in what she’s doing.
3. A leaf hunt
This time of year is great for leaf hunts. We’ve looked for leaves on the way home from school, or after a trip to the park. Again, it’s a good way to get my four year old to calm down and focus on a task. And when we’ve got home we’ve stuck them down to bits of paper to make leaf pictures – two activities in one right there.
4. Play dough
Ah play dough, good old play dough. You really can’t beat the stuff for a quick and easy activity idea. Add a few baking beads, some (unlit!) candles, cake cases and a rolling pin and you’ve got a great cooking game. Or go for shells, cake cutters and buttons for a play dough art activity. There are loads of play dough ideas, plus the best no cook play dough recipe ever, over at The Imagination Tree.
5. The park
It’s an obvious one but a good’un – the park is just down the road from Frog’s school and we’re there almost every day after school. Even if it’s just a quick ten minute play, running off that unvented steam seems to help stop my four year old totally losing her mind as soon as she walks through the door when we eventually get home. If ten minutes in the rain at the park means a more peaceful bedtime with less shouting and no tantrums then I can deal with that.
And when all else fails? There’s always Netflix. We’ve created a new Friday tradition that involves a trip to the village shop for chocolate straight after school, uniform off and pyjamas on as soon as we’re home, and a movie on Netflix with a mug of warm milk. By Friday Frog is so knackered she’s beyond hyper and, to be frank, so am I – especially now we have a newborn in tow too. Who else loves Fridays?!
Any ideas you swear by to keep your kids occupied and avoid hyper meltdowns after school? Add them to my list!