Five of the Easiest and Free After School Activities To do with your Children

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The end of the school day is always the best and the worst part of any day in our household. The twins and I are excited to go get our big girls and see them after a day of peace and quiet and no bickering missing them. The first few minutes of having them in the car together is always fun-filled and energetic, hearing about all the fun and exciting events that unfolded throughout the course of the day. In the five minutes it takes to get home, however, the mood changes. Suddenly the girls are arguing about who gets to get out of the car first (because they only choose to exit the car on the side on which their younger sister sits and not the side on which their younger brother sits. Boy germs might be on that door). Then they’re asking for snacks and arguing about homework and bickering about who got their shoes off first and who gets to sit where first. I look at the clock in hope that my husband will be home any moment and realize he’s not due for another hour. Every. Single. Day.

After school is a busy time in our house, and that’s why finding easy and free activities to do with the kids for that hour is a must. Once homework is complete, we have to do something to expel some energy and get to moving, or my kids will kill me become bored. That’s where these activities come in handy.

Make Snack Art

This is a fun activity my kids love. The babies do it naturally – all food is art in their opinion. The big girls are a bit more careful about it. I’ll let them choose a snack and then allow them to make art with it, whether it’s sandwiches with faces, fruit castles or whatever they want. In our house, you can plan with your food as long as you want provided you’re behaving.

Dance Party USA

Sometimes at the end of the day we like to unwind (read: Wear them out) by dancing. It’s good for our bodies, it’s making them a bit more rhythmic and it’s fun. We turn up the surround sound, choose songs taking turns and dance it up like no one’s business. Our four-year-old believes she is a master break dancer, though she’s certainly cute trying. The only problem we have with this one is when she once asked if she could pick “Anaconda,” and we couldn’t figure out where she learned that one. Oops.

Exercise

Our kids love to exercise with me, so we always look for a way to do it together whether it’s taking a walk around the block, playing a game outside, riding our bikes or throwing the ball. The kids think it’s fun, it’s outdoors, and I think that it’s good for them to be outside a bit. It gives us all a chance to be a little bit more active and have a little bit more fun.

Treasure Hunt

When I have something to do when the kids come home, or somewhere to go that we have to prepare for (or they’re just driving me nuts), I’ll send the girls on a treasure hunt in the yard. I’ll give my oldest a list of things to find, and tell them that they’re good to go (I can see them and we have a fenced in, gated yard with video surveillance and an alarm if anyone tries to get into our yard). I might make it a simple list or a creatively challenging list if I need more time. It’s their favorite way to spend time.

iPad Learning Games

There is always a day every few weeks in which nothing makes kids happy. They don’t want to go outside, they don’t want to exercise, they don’t want to play. They just want to bicker and argue and whine about everything. That’s when the iPads come out and the games go on. We try to keep them educational and at least somewhat intelligent so we don’t feel so bad about it – but that doesn’t mean they’re not playing minion rush at times. Our younger daughter loves puzzles on the iPad and our oldest is a math game-obsessed little know-it-all, so it works for us.

Disclaimer: Parents become angry with the use of electronic devices and kids, but there’s nothing wrong with allowing kids some time with electronics. Just keep it supervised and minimal. We should be able to take advantage of what technology has to offer our kids without going overboard.

Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images

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