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!
Jane @ northernmum says
This post makes me feel like a bad mum!
Except the park – I do the park x
Katy Hill says
FAB post! Can I add Aqua Beads to the list? They’re like Hama but my kids actually prefer them as you can do 3d shapes AND they can do everything themselves as you just spray with water to “set”. No boiling iron needed! Love Katy Hill – the other one 😉 x
Aqua beads – great idea! I’ve not tried those before, will definitely stock up on some before half term is over!
I love your film Fridays, that must be a lovely way to end the week! And outside is definitely the answer for us when the girls get home from nursery, it’s why I miss the summer for those long light evenings!
It’s the best way to end the week!
I think mine are weirdys…….they come in from school and actively choose to continue learning – reading, spellings, maths problem solving etc! Keeps them busy till tea, and if they start to flag then I tend to pop a film on for them to zone out to! Also, dancing like crazy loons helps when all else fails……..
Gosh you’re lucky!
Kim Carberry says
Great ideas! We try to go to the park on the way home from school a couple of times a week….My girl certainly sleeps better when we have been x
The park is the way forward – unless it’s pouring with rain in which case I grit my teeth and try to think of an alternate activity!