As much as we would like to, we will never be able to completely prevent the stresses of daily life for ourselves, or our kids. Today’s children often have stress coming from several sources: school; after school activities and sports; peer pressure; the media. It would be nice to think that the home is a sanctuary from the stress of the outside world. But let’s face it, hunger, homework, the allure of the Internet, electronic games and social media can all come together into the perfect storm of after school angst. If your family’s after-school schedule feels hurried, harried and horrific, here are a few ideas to help make life a little simpler for you and your child.
According to a recent KidsHealth survey, almost 90 percent of students said they felt stress day in and day out.
1. Are all of your child’s after school activities necessary? Every child is different – some thrive on hectic schedules, and some crave downtime. Listening to our kids as individuals is the only way to truly know how they feel.
2. Does your child’s schedule put unnecessary pressure on you as a parent? When you are stressed, your child will pick up on it and that in turn adds to his or her stress. If maintaining a crazy schedule is making you all miserable is it really worth it? It’s important to remember even superheroes have their limitations.
3. Is there an activity that can go by the wayside? Often we as parents don’t realize we have ‘booked’ our kids for a sport or activity they don’t actually enjoy, but we insisted on because we didn’t want them to miss out on an opportunity or maybe it was something we enjoyed. Maybe it’s time to ask them how they feel about it.
4. Have you set aside predictable times for homework, snacks, downtime, chores, recreation? Based on your child’s needs and likes, it’s a good idea to have a regular routine for snack time, when homework needs to be done, etc. Most children function better when they know what is expected of them and what they can expect from us.
5. Do you allow for family time away from iPods, televisions, video games, computers, or phones? Family dinner, followed by thirty minutes to an hour of tech-free, conversation, games, reading, or doing something creative strengthens family connections and allows the whole family to de-compress after a busy day.
Try this Hearty and Healthy After School Snack
If the first thing your kids do after arriving home from school is make a beeline to the kitchen for a snack before hitting the books, you know how hard it can be to keep foods on hand that put the ‘hungries’ at bay without piling on unnecessary sugar, fat and calories. Here’s a warm and hearty snack you can make ahead, so you’ll be ready for the after school rush.
Mini Pizza Muffins What kid doesn’t love pizza? Try a new take on the ever-popular flavor of pizza without the fat and processed meats you want your family to avoid.
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2/3 cup finely chopped onion
2/3 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1/3 cup whole-wheat flour
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano, or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup low-fat milk
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 large egg, well beaten
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Directions 1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and bell pepper; cook, stirring often, until tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool for 10 minutes. 2. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400°F. Coat a mini-muffin pan with cooking spray. 3. Mix whole-wheat pastry flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, oregano, sugar, garlic powder and salt in a medium bowl. 4. Stir milk, feta, egg, and tomato paste into onion mixture. Make a well in the dry ingredients; add the wet ingredients and stir until just combined. Fill prepared muffin cups two-thirds full. 5. Bake muffins until lightly browned, 13 to 15 minutes. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.