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This post was in partnership with Brainiac Foods, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everymom editorial board. We only recommend products we genuinely love.

8 Tips for Making After School Activities Way Less Stressful


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Source: Carmen Garcia-Shushtari
Source: Carmen Garcia-Shushtari

Back to school season is in full swing and with it comes a slew of after school activities. If, like me, you have been run ragged by back-to-back lessons, sports, and other activities, you know that it can get quite stressful. After school activities are one big lesson in juggling: schedules, transport, snacks, homework—it all has to happen after school. And, honestly, there are only so many hours in an afternoon, and so many adults to make it all happen.

So what does this mean for busy parents and busy kids? How do you take the go, go, go of after school and make it, dare I say it, fun? Believe it or not, it doesn’t have to be so chaotic. We’ve rounded up a few tips to take the stress out of after school activities, so you and the kids can focus on fun, learning, and do it all with ease.


1. Stock Up on Nutritious Snacks

The after school snack often ends up being one of our more important meals during the week. I know my son tends to not eat a ton during lunch at school (it’s hard to focus with a bunch of other little people around you!). So before we dive into homework or after school activities, I like to provide a little brain fuel.

Brainiac Foods makes it easy and affordable to get your little ones that extra nutrition they might need to power through the day. In our house, we’re particular to the Brain Butters on a banana or apple for an after school snack (or even sometimes breakfast!) but I also always have Brain Bars stocked up in our pantry snack bins. When he eats these, I know my son’s getting a jolt of good-for-him energy that’s not full of sugar. Plus, Brainiac Butters and Brain Bars come in a range of flavors (we love the Chocolate Almond!) that make my little guy feel like he’s getting a treat.

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Brainiac Foods
Brain Butter

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Brainiac Foods
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2. A Checklist Goes a Long Way

On the first day of school, I get two checklists ready for the next few months: morning and after school. It’s hard enough to ease back into those routines, so a helpful visual reminder goes a long way for both my kid and myself (is it just me or do you ever walk out and realize, oh he forgot to brush his teeth!?). This doesn’t have to be a huge production or something that breaks the bank—I’ve found some really cute customizable checklists on Etsy and on Canva that I can personalize with favorite characters, print at home, and tape to the back of the door or next to his little breakfast area.

after school checklist
Etsy | Mindyana Jones Designs
Before & After School Routine Charts for Little Kids

An editable template makes it easy to customize for your routine.

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3. Get the Schedule in Front of Everyone

Like having a helpful checklist, it’s important to have a visual reminder of where everyone is supposed to be when. It gets overwhelming when trying to juggle parents’ schedules with after school schedules and having an easy central place where everything is listed can be a lifesaver on a busy afternoon.

back to school calendar
Large Acrylic Wall Calendar

No "oops I forgot" excuses with this dry-erase family calendar that keeps everyone's activities front and center!

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4. Create an “After School Station”

If you can, grab a corner of your kid’s closet, a mudroom, garage, or just an area by the front door to create a quick grab-and-go after school area. Store what you need for sports, ballet, gymnastics, and other activities that require a wardrobe change or accessories. I keep my son’s martial arts uniform (and a couple extras) in a bag in a cubby in his closet, that way it’s easy to grab and go on the way out the door.


5. Don’t Over-Schedule

Last year, we got a little over-zealous with after school activities and had a different sport or lesson every single day—sometimes two a day—all over town. That ended up in a downward spiral of missed classes, a grumpy child, and an over-stressed parent.

This after school season, I’m keeping it more mellow and focusing on two to three activities that we know we can keep up with. That will make it easier for my son to focus on each activity, since he’s not being pulled in so many directions. And it will keep me sane to not be juggling five different activities for months.


6. Create a Homework-Ready Area

Preparation is half the battle. If we’re running short on time after an activity, I know it will be a struggle to get my little guy to sit down and practice his reading and writing. I’ve taken a corner of his room and created a makeshift homework area using his activity table.

For my little guy, it’s all about the markers and colored pens he gets to use and a fun notebook (he’s partial to his Spidey notebook), so I set those up in easy Container Store bins that he can access quickly. He knows that when he comes home, that is his own space that he can sit at and practice writing, drawing, and have some quiet time.



7. Don’t Stress on Screen Time (but Make it Educational!)

The reality of screen time in our house is that it will occur. Whether it’s the hour between getting dropped off by the bus and an after school activity or the post-activity wind down, I know my kid is going to reach for that iPad. To keep him from mindlessly watching videos that have little educational value, I’ve downloaded a few apps that I can trust will keep him entertained while using his brain. Noggin is a favorite around here for the Nick Jr. characters, but we also love codeSpark, Disney Coloring World, ABCMouse, and Osmo.

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8. Ask for Help If You Can

I’m one of those people that has an incredibly hard time asking for help, but if the last couple of years has shown me anything, it’s that sometimes you need to lean on your village. Reaching out to a mom friend for help with bus pick-up, or carting my son along to the same after school activities as their kids has been a game changer in reducing the amount of stress I was feeling from juggling all of the pick-ups and drop-offs with work commitments.

My circle of mom friends is all feeling the same thing, so we feel comfortable going back and forth on the “Hey, can you pick him/her up from the bus with yours?” trade off. Whether it’s a mom friend, partner, grandparent, other family member or babysitter, you don’t have to do it all alone—and you’ll be surprised how eager people in your circle are to help.


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This post was in partnership with Brainiac Foods, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everymom editorial board. We only recommend products we genuinely love.