Creating an Afterschool Happy Hour
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On a good day at our house, school wraps up by about 3 o’clock. The house is quiet. The girls are napping (hopefully). The boys are finishing their independent work. We do a quick pick up to signal the end of lessons and the transition to afternoon activities.
One fun thing to make that transition fun — and delicious — is to share an afterschool “happy hour.” You could call it a coffee break, an afterschool snack or tea time.
The important thing is that we take a moment to unwind, share a snack, and reconnect.
We do this at the end of our homeschool day, but I imagine that families who school outside the home would enjoy this just as much. It’s a great chance to catch up, share funny stories, and refuel for afternoon activities.
Take a moment to unwind
I find that school days can be full days. My kids have chores and school lessons to do. I have to hit the ground running just to keep up. While each child may not be busy the entire day, my minutes are filled, transitioning my attention from child to child and tackling home tasks.
Taking a break can be so refreshing — for me and the kids.
Share a snack
On a good day at our house, meals are planned in advance. The kids have had a good breakfast; we eat sack lunches. Dinner is scheduled for about six pm. Lunch seems hours ago, and it’s still too early to eat dinner.
So, it’s nice to have a snack to hold us over.
Some snacks we like:
- Apples and maple cream
- Cheese and crackers
- Graham crackers and applesauce
- Popcorn with butter
- Cake and hot cocoa
- Cookies and milk
Sharing Sara Lee
Recently, our happy hour featured pound cake from Sara Lee. This dessert is a sweet memory from my childhood. My mom often bought one for me and my four siblings.
I love the convenience of having this snack in the freezer. It’s a great last minute treat, especially since it thaws so quickly. I prefer it cold.
Drizzle it with an orange glaze, and it’s even better!
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 – 2 Tablespoons orange juice
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl, adding enough juice to create the consistency you desire. Drizzle over slices of pound cake and serve.
Even though I spend all day every day with my kids, there are still times when I feel a disconnect. If I’ve been busy cleaning or we’ve had company, I feel like I’ve been away from them. I miss them when we haven’t had a chance to talk.
Snack time is a good way for us to reconnect.
Looking at good days
The reality is that “good days” are hard to come by. At least in the “everything-is-going-as-I-planned” kind of good day.
The house might be a wreck. Tears might have been shed over math problems or phonics reading. Piles of laundry may be waiting in all corners of the house. FishChick 2 might have gotten into who-knows what.
But, hanging with my kids? Reconnecting after a hard day? Enjoying a little pick-me-up together?
That can make every day a good day.
I reconnect with my daughter when she gets home from school each day by going through her backpack and listening to her tell me about her day before we pick my son up from school. Then, we all reconnect once he’s home by reading some books on the couch.
I try to be sure to ask each one of them how their day was at school, and then a more probing question to get more details about it.
Taking the time to play or just snuggle with them.
I spend time cooking in the kitchen where ds16 is usually doing schoolwork. Gives us more opprotunities to talk about his day.
I like to sit down with the kids and play cards. The conversations that come in that time is awesome.
Although we try to connect up on a daily basis through quiet times, mealtime conversations, and routines, when we need a little extra, I plan what my 5-year-old calls a “Mommy Adventure” — a day with an unexpected twist that involves time together. We’ll go to the zoo, or the park, or a museum, or pack a picnic — some event that’s dedicated to the two of us exploring together and bonding along the way. I’m always thinking about what the next one will be, and my son, who is 5, will occasionally tell me that he thinks it’s time for another Mommy Adventure!
When we all get home it is just nice to stand around and talk while I am making dinner or feeding the baby.
Making strawberry shortcake together or ice cream sundaes. Seeing who can make the weirdest or wildest ones. Then we sit down together and enjoy them!
A family trip to the park
My kids and I loooove weekends! We watch movies, make popcorn, slushies, cookies, brownies….whatever! We just toss everything else aside. They are great kids and I love spending time with them doing whatever!!! Thanks for the chance to win! What a treat!
making banana nut bread together and while its baking start on a puzzle. We add cream cheese while the bread is still warm and then add a tall glass of milk or coffee for me. It is so fun and relaxed around the table when we do this together.
We reconnect by playing a round of Go Fish after dinner. During the day if I sense one of us is getting stressed, we take a break and I go play with him- that always makes him happy 🙂
Besides eathing a snack together, my favorite way to reconeect was when we read books on the couch.
Family dinner at the table, no tv, phone, or any other toys. Just us. that’s the way we do it.
My kids are young, 2 and 4, and they stay home with me during the day. After nap time we sit on the couch and cuddle and just unwind. Sometimes we don’t get to do that(if we’ve got a busy day), so about 20 minutes before their bedtime(which is about an hour apart) my husband and I will lay down on their bed and cuddle whichever child is about to go to bed. It’s a nice way to reconnect, it gets us some definite one on one time, and helps calm that child(especially my son!) down for bedtime.
I like to go for a walk with one or more of my children, just around the neighborhood. It gets us away from the TV, computer, and general hustle and bustle.
I have found the way to reflect the day and reconnect is to get into a nice warm snugly bed and cuddle and tell each other our day Good and bad and find ways to overcome the challenges each of us have had.. Some of the best advice I have ever been given is from the mouths of children and young adults.. so ,I say connect through being relaxed and talk from the heart:)
What they have always said what the head makes cloudy , the heart makes very clear!
no matter what type of day we’ve had. we try to reconnect at story time and end the day on a good note. We also do sanck night on friday’s–lots of finger foods for dinner while we watch a movie. This is a tradition carried on from my childhood. It’s funny that you mention the Sara Lee Pound Cake. My mom always had one at our snack nite–usually with fresh fruit on it. I’d completely forgotten that piece of it. thank you for reminding me of that delicious treat!
We like to read books to our daughter and spend time with her.
My daughters and I like to read together, take walks, and play “board” games. These things are our way of reconnecting.
I love to sit in the recliner in my Daughters room and read to her…just her and I. It’s so peaceful and she recites the words and will often brush my hair with her hands and tell me she loves me. I just love it!
Our favorite way to reconnect is to talk about each other’s day, but usually not first thing when he comes in from school. He needs to transition from school mode to home, so I let him play and unwind, before we start playing, what did you have for snack, who did you talk to today, what did you read, etc. Its a nice back and forth conversation with each other, which allows both of us to share.
We like to have after-school picnics-snacks on a blanket in the back yard while we talk about the day.
We snuggle up on the couch and read a book together!
I have some Sara Lee in my freezer right now and never even thought of serving it as a snack! Why do I always try to “save” things for when guests come rather than spend them on my own family? I’m going to work on that…
Some ways that we reconnect:
Eat dinner as a family at the table,
We pile on my “big” bed and read together, Have family movie nights where we eat popcorn and snacks and watch a family friendly movie together and
Play board or video games all together.
My favorite way to connect is sitting down right after school for snacks and homework. With us sitting there with her through her work, she knows that we value her education and she should too:-)
I like to reconnect with my kids by just eating supper together. As a working, single mom, this time is precious to me
In the evenings we snuggle up for a devotion and a read a loud book.
I like to reconnect with my kids by taking the week old bread to the pond down the road and feeding the ducks. It’s amazing how much they enjoy that.
I don’t connect with my kids as much as I should. If one has an event after school, I’ll pick them up and give them a snack of some kind. (They prefer McD’s ice cream cones… ) They like to be read to and play games. I have not done that like I should. A good reminder for me to think about and add to my thoughts on a more daily basis.
We reconnect over dinner (we eat early). It is a great way to find out bout everyone’s day and just talk.
My girls love it when I pick them up from school and hit Sonic’s happy hour. Their mom loves it, too!
We like to connect during dinner with everyone sitting at the table as well as a board game after the dishes are cleaned up!
I love to sit and color with my daughter talking about the day. It always interesting to see what art work comes from those talks.
To reconnect with my children, 17 and 9, we all get on my bed and talk. We talk about what we are eating that week, about what events are happening and anything we would like to happen. We usually do this twice a week. There is nothing that centers me more!
Sometimes I will just stop and give my boys my full attention, just say yes and sit down on the floor with them and do whatever it is they want to do – they really love it when I play legos or trains or cars with them.
After reading your post I realize that I don’t do it often enough, so I’m going to get a sarah lee and start today right after school along with a hot chocolate and ask about their day and listen with no interruptions.
I love family movie night when my 2 teenage boys fight over who gets to sit next to mom (dad of course gets the other side)- It gives me the opportunity to tossle their hair or kiss their cheek unexpectedly and just let them know how much I love them!
We connect at dinner time. And on the weekends we try to play a game or watch a movie together. Sometimes it is just taking a few minutes at bed time to talk to them.
My favorite way to reconnect is to take some extra time at bed time to cuddle, chat and pray together.
We cuddle on the couch and read books together!
My favorite way to reconnect with my kids is to plan a date: anything from Jamba Juice, going out for hot chocolate, going for a walk, riding bikes, etc. Daddy takes the other child for awhile or we plan it during the gymnastics or school… so I have time with just one child, totally focused on them for awhile.
The whole family playing a game together after dinner.
My kids love to make crafts so if I want to get their attention I bring out some papers, craft scissors and glue. Thanks for the chance to win!
We like to play games together.
I have to just stop trying to get everything done and just sit on the floor and play with my son. I love reconnecting with him!!!!
I reconnect w/ my boys by going just start playing with their toys – whether it is a puzzle or train. I don’t say a word – just start playing for a few minutes – then invite them to join me. This way I’m not interrupting their play (as they get very focused) and we are all on the same level – together.
We also usually have a snack after picking our eldest up from school. First they play on the playground and we walk home, when we get in we wash hands, empty bags, and sit down for a snack. It’s so nice to just be together and have a breather, as you said. We hope to homeschool next year but will keep the snack break!
With 2 boys, our favorite after school activity is building with Legos! We like to “build” stuff with cheese cubes and pretzel stick snacks while we work!
My guys are 6 and 4 and we started tea time in Sept when school started. At 4 pm we stop and have a snack (popcorn, cheese sticks, cookies, or crackers) and a drink (juice, milk, tea for mom). Sometimes we will play a board game, go out for a ball toss, or read books. It really helps with delaying the “witching” hour and we all feel better afterwards.
i love being able to connect with them right after their school day ends while the day’s events are still fresh and exciting. once the chatting is out of the way, it’s time for a snack and then we crank up the tunes and dance to a couple of our favorites.
We make cookies or brownies. The boys always help with the mess making and sometimes….if I’m lucky…..they’ll help with the cleanup too! Jenn
reading books together.
The best way I have found to ‘reconnect’ with my teen daughter is to have her assist with cooking. She enjoys helping me meal plan and learning to cook. Allowing her to pick her favs and give reviews on new recipes. She also loves when we make ‘junk’ food – cookies, cake, candies. I like the ‘girl’ time together and she is learning something for later too!
My kids come home at different times. I try to be home and not distracted for each of them. They each get some mom time to talk about the day before the rush of dinner/homework/activities kick in.
we love to take walks or eat healthy snacks like smooties
I feel like my kids and I reconnect every morning on the couch while we read and pray together. It is my favorite part of our day. Dinner time is also a good time for that!
We take about 30 minutes when I get home from work and my older children home from school (which is about the same time) to talk over our day and eat a little snack. We really enjoy (and deserve) this little break before evening activities get started.
This post came at just the right time. I had the moment to reconnect most recently with my youngest son. His two older brothers were at a party and over lunch I simply asked him some open ended questions and we discussed “life”. Later he commented on how it was kind of a nice thing just being home with me.
My challenge is to plan similar times with his older brothers who more naturally have the busier lives. This post about an after school happy hour gives me some ideas to consider. Thanks.
We reconnect because we ride home from school together (he drives my car to his high school, one mile from my middle school). He picks me up and drives me home, and we eat dinner together EVERY night.
Its just me and my teenage daughter so we do high/low after work and before I start on dinner — it works for us.
We always talk about the day on the way home from school in the car. Thanks for reminding us to have some fun too!
I homeschool my boys too and I totally understand what you mean about being disconnected even though you’re together all day, every day. At bedtime, our routine is to lay on their bedroom floor and just chat…about our day, about the next day…whatever. Its a nice way to bring our day to an end in a positive way. I do like the idea of “happy hour”. My boys love to snack after they wake up from their afternoon naps, so I just need to make sure I set aside a little time to sit with them!
I love cuddling in my bed with everyone, it’s nice and warm and relaxing!
We like to make popcorn with skittles or M&M’s (Movie Style they call it) and listen to Adventures in Odyssey right before bed. We then talk about what was discussed that day in the show and then teeth-brushing and off to bed. It signals the end of the day and also it great quality family time. 🙂
My son is 4, so he can be hard to connect with sometimes!! Lately, he’s been really into board games, so I will stop whatever I’m doing to play with him. I also love to snuggle in bed (even in the middle of the afternoon) with him, and read to him. I know I don’t have a lot of that left… he will learn to read on his own, etc., so I try to enjoy it! Also, I occasionally make “ants on a log,” which he LOVES. 🙂
My older son loves “family movie night” or “family game night”. There is a 7 year age gap between him and his younger brother… but he always tries to pick a game or movie to share with him! Melts my heart!
Usually to reconnect I just sit down with one of the girls when I find her alone. Or call one of them into a quiet space. Sometimes we talk, sometimes we just sit together. Almost always we end up with a hug.
Sitting and eating dinner together
We take a few minutes to talk about our days and reconnect before starting on our afternoon activities.
Driving them to & from school (a 20 minute trip each way) is a great time for us to connect!
I try to make sure to have some weekly time for each of my kids individually. Daily we usually talk during dinner prep where I usually encourage everyone to pitch in.
By the time our oldest gets home from school-its homework, going over the day, bath, and dinner. So sometimes we aren’t able to really connect until that evening. Some nights we pull out our blowup mattress and all 5 of us cuddle with blankets and pillows to watch a family movie!
I homeschool my 6 yr old and we finish up with her school work around 1pm and then we do lunch at 2pm and it’s nap time ( for my 2 yr old) and quiet time. After nap/quiet time is over Gracie ( my 6yr old) and I will have tea time. She has her own little teacups that she gets to drink from and we just sit and talk or I read to her. My mom used to do it with me and I’m enjoying passing this tradition down to my girls 🙂
We have an evening routine after bathtime and jammies, of rocking and either singing or reading books. Although I love playing games like Memory or hide and seek with my boys during the day, there’s nothing like reconnecting and unwinding together at the end of the day.
We reconnect by taking walks together.
Our favorite way to reconnect is to snuggle on the couch with a good read-aloud.
Snuggling on the couch and reading books with my children is a good way that we like to stay connected. There are always questions asked that lead into discussions and all while reading a nice book!
We like to pop some popcorn and watch a movie together.
We never turn the Tv on until all homework, dinner, and dinner mess has been cleaned up. More often than not, we never even get it on, which is fine with me! During that time, we listen to hyms, or soft music. Of course with a 2 year old running around, it’s sometimes crazy 🙂 But, that way I hear and see everything that’s going on, most importantly hear all the stories from that day at school!
It’s true that it’s easy to be home with your kids all day long, but still not feel connected.
During the summer we’d have a picnic. We’d ride our bikes to the park and eat lunch. During the winter, my son and I will play chess together. My daughter is busy with sports – I need to work on a way to reconnect with her!
My oldest of three children is four and he is away only two mornings a week. Other than that I am with them all day every day and I still feel I miss out on moments due to having to run the household. I try to reconnect with a family dinner nightly. I love to hear about the day through their eyes as they tell their dad about it.
I like sitting on the floor and watching her mind work as she plays. So fun! And I learn so much!
We like to read a book or play a game. Having a snack is always nice too!
Right after the big boys get home from school we go through bags and papers and have a snack. During winter, we have hot cocoa and graham crackers, or maybe a warm cookie if mom was really on the ball. If the weather is warm, we have a smoothie.
Its so nice to catch up with them before we get busy again with homework and dinner prep. Then we all sit together for dinner when Dad gets home.
we like to reconnect by playing board games
Reading books with my toddler is a great way to slow down and get away from all the distractions for a while!
Home made pretzels and cheese sauce or apples and peanut butter.
My kids are all teens but I find it’s important to connect with them now as well. The best way to get their attention for a chat is to offer a hearty snack and require that it’s eaten in the kitchen with me.
It’s priority in our house to have dinner together, at the kitchen table, with Dad, EVERY night. We have a great time reconnecting over a meal with no interruptions.
Well, I have just a baby right now, but it feels great to “reconnect” when she wakes up smiley from a nap–or once Daddy’s home! 😀
definitely after school snack time…if the day is crazy and there is practices after school, we try to do something fun before bed, like playing cards or a board game
We always make eating together as a family at dinnertime a priority for a time of laughter, fun, conversation and a chance to reconnect for the day.
My boys are all little 4months, 22 months, and 3.5 years so our quiet recoonection time is usually sitting on the floor of the living room with books. The oldest two take turns picking a book, and we all snuggle up and read together. Sometimes it’s the only “quiet” part of my day.
Our favorite way to reconnect is sitting on the couch and reading books together.
to reconnect with my kids, I stop my t0-do list and play with them. Most of the time, we play a game. Sometimes, they just want to sit with me and talk.
we cuddle on the couch when the day gets a little to hectic or we share a snack together. Right now we are having pretzles and cheese.
After dinner, we often get out a board or card game. The homework is done, lunches are packed, dishes are done, and time to relax.
My son is public schooled. It breaks my heart but he just needs the extra therapies they offer him. When he gets home at 3:03, his brothers and I are waiting at the front door. We all sit down on the stairs next to the door and go through his school work, artwork, and talk about his day. After that, it’s snack time! I honestly hope they’ll continue this after school tradition with me when they’re all grown up too (if they’re still in public school). It’s such a nice, distraction free moment.
My favorite way to reconnect us to just pause — stop trying to get things done and just get down on the floor and play with my daughter. It’s refreshing for us both!
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