I am sure you know what I mean when I say that never mind mornings, often, it is the afternoons that can really take a toll on family life.
I just know from my own little family, that when we walk through the door in the afternoons, having rushed from work to school pick up and creche pick-up, we are all pretty wrung out from our respective days. We have worked and played and learned, and after pick-up, maybe even stopped at the supermarket on the way, racing through the aisles while trying to figure out what the heck to serve for dinner.
And then, coming home, you are suddenly facing into the next few hours where homework is on the agenda, maybe even some afterschool activities, dinner, housework, bath-time, bedtime; is it any wonder things can turn to whining and complaining quickly – when you are rushing around trying to make sure everything gets done?
It is draining, for everyone. For parents, for children, for us all.
However, I recently came across an article online about how children need their ’emotional accounts’ topped up – especially at certain times a day – and it actually made all sorts of sense. The theory is that, especially in the afternoons, we are all tired. We have been ‘on’ all day, in school, in creche, in work, taking in new tasks, being social, facing stressful situations, even. So then, when we get home, children especially (although I’ll argue it matters to adults too) need to decompress a little and have some “emotional deposits ” (hugs, cuddles, quiet time) made into their little “accounts.”
Just think about it – demands have been made for you all – all day. To perform tasks, to sit still, to work, to learn, to be outgoing, to take part – and now you are home and suddenly there are more demands – homework, tidying, helping with dinner, getting ready for bed – is it any wonder it can all get a little too much?
And the solution, mamas, is often so simple: To just make time for a little bit of down-time straight away – before getting on with the rest of the afternoon.
What I have started doing after coming across this article, is, when we get home, just leaving our bags and coats in the hall and head straight for the sofa. Then we all pile on, all snuggled into each other, and just cuddle and chat. Sometimes, I find that even the chat part isn’t even necessary, often, it is just being still and being close to each other for a few moments that will make the stress melt away for us all.
And you won’t believe the difference this easy, five-minute ritual has made to our afternoons. Getting up from the sofa, it feels like we have all had our ’emotional batteries’ charged a little, and it makes all the difference for all our moods heading into the rest of the afternoon. The homework suddenly seems to go easier, there is less whining, the dinner prep is less manic and overall, I think we all feel less stressed and more connected because of it.
The good, old magic of hugs should never be underestimated.