After School Activities for Kids

After School Activities for Kids

We like to keep the after school schedule simple around my home. Because my daughter comes home tired and exhausted from her school day, we don’t currently schedule any activities after school. I like to have my kindergartner come home to do what she enjoys most…free time to just play.

Here are a few of the activities that we enjoy once my daughter gets home from school:

Get outside!

Because I know winter is not too far away and the after-school time will be cold and dark, I want to take advantage of this beautiful fall weather. After school is a great time to have the children get outside and play! It seems like my kindergartner gets plenty of time to run around and play at school, but if your child has been at a desk all day they may need the time to get fresh air, exercise, and a change of scenery.

Check out this scavenger hunt printable if you need an activity for your kiddos outside. Getting outside can restore mental energy, relieve stress, improve concentration and focus, and improve mental health. This article provides a list of the many other benefits of getting outside. This might also be a great break for you!

After School Activities for Kids. Get outside. 

Chat about the school day

After being away all day, my girl likes to just sit on the couch with me right when she gets home. We go over everything in her backpack and she tells me about her day. I know that she might not want to do this when she is older, so I love the time!

Reading time

Same as above, some days she just needs a little mom time when she gets home. We may snuggle on the couch reading books together.

Bake a snack together

My girls enjoy baking, so this is a great time to make a snack together. The girls most often help me make pumpkin bread or energy bites. Pumpkin bread is the perfect fall treat. Energy bites are the perfect thing to put in your children’s lunches, so I try to have a batch on hand. They are tasty and my whole family enjoys them.

After School Activities for Kids. Baking pumpkin bread!

Free play with siblings

My kindergartner loves to come home and play with her sister. I am thankful that they play so wonderfully together. Some days it’s best to just step back and let their imaginations run wild. I love listening to the scenarios they come up with!

Play a game

We don’t have a free-for-all with tech time at home, so getting to play a game is a bonus that my girls love. My kindergartner enjoys de-stressing with a little educational screen time.

Amazon Underground is a catalog of over 3,000 free games and apps that are 100% FREE when you download. The games and apps can be downloaded on your Amazon Fire tablet or Android smartphone and the “Actually Free” games and apps can provide a fun break in our day.
blog_500x500_3840_clevergirls

We have enjoyed playing Kindergarten Learning Boost Workbook, Math Games, Monkey Preschool Fix-It, and Elmo Loves ABCs

Elmo Loves ABCs is an app that includes tracing the alphabet and learning a few words for each letter of the alphabet. Here is my daughter playing Elmo ABCs:

 

 

A video posted by Emily (@ammotivatedmom) on


Check out the over 3,000 apps and games that are 100% free from Amazon Underground

After School Activities for Kids. Amazon Underground

 

After School Activities for Kids. Amazon Underground

What do your children like to do after school?

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

After School Activities for Kids

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13 Ways to Reduce Daily Stress

13 Ways to Reduce Daily Stress

We all have days that we are tired, weary, stressed, frustrated, and struggling with patience.

Small everyday stressors may be unavoidable some days, but finding a way to deal with stress and minimize the impact is key to the atmosphere of your home. As a mom, I know that my stress-level impacts my children and I try to keep my stress levels down. There are so many things we can do to decrease our stress levels in a natural way. Creating healthy habits can help to minimize stress and help to lift our moods.

While I can keep the small every-day stresses in perspective, I still need to find ways to get out of a down moment or stressful day.

Here are 13 ways to reduce daily stress:

Begin your day with quiet/alone time

I find that if I have even a few minutes alone in the morning, my day runs more smoothly. I enjoy waking up before my girls instead of with them, as this gives me time to enjoy my coffee, read my devotion, and hop on the computer. Consider creating a morning routine as a way to reset your morning and get your day started right.

13 Ways to Reduce Daily Stress: Begin your day with quiet/alone time, Exercise, Get outside, Look for joy, Pray, Let go. Don’t strive for perfection. Do not strive to do it all., Reset, Know what refreshes you, Make a grateful list, Stay hydrated, Get sleep, and Deep slow breathing.

Exercise

This is my main stress reliever. I start to get unpleasant when I go too long without exercise! If you are not exercising consistently, start by adding small amounts of exercise into your day. If you have trouble getting motivated, remember that the first step out the door is the hardest. Once you get out and exercise, you will rarely (if ever!) regret it.

Get Outside

Getting outside can restore your mental energy, relieve stress, improve concentration and focus, and improve your mental health. This article provides a list of the many other benefits of getting outside. I would guess the more time you are outside, the less you are sedentary. Get fresh air, exercise, vitamin D, and a change of scenery by getting outside. This is also great for children! Check out this scavenger hunt printable if you need an activity for your kiddos outside.

Use the Spire Fitness Tracker to let you know when you are getting stressed or have been sitting around too long. Then head outside for a quick break!

13 Ways to Reduce Daily Stress: Begin your day with quiet/alone time, Exercise, Get outside, Look for joy, Pray, Let go. Don’t strive for perfection. Do not strive to do it all., Reset, Know what refreshes you, Make a grateful list, Stay hydrated, Get sleep, and Deep slow breathing.

Look for joy

Even when frustrated, there is often a joyous moment around the corner. Even when my children are acting up and frustrating me, it’s usually only a few minutes later that I think they are most wonderful. I end up laughing with them and being completely overcome with love. A child’s laughter can bring you back.

When frustrated, I remind myself just to wait for the joyful moment as it’s probably just minutes away.

Pray

Ask Him for help. Lay your concerns on Him and trust that He is with you.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. ~ Philippians 4:6

Let go. Don’t strive for perfection. Do not strive to do it all.

Take a look at your schedule and commitments. Simplify what you can in your home. You may find non-essential tasks that are only causing stress.

It’s just not worth the pressure. I know that many struggle with this, but pick your priorities and stick them. Decide what you care about for yourself and your family and focus on that. Don’t let others expectations or standards wear you down.

Reset. Change gears.

If I have had a long day with my girls, a simple change can help to reset our day. If the kiddos are getting antsy, get outside or plan an activity to wear them out. Some days this is obvious and easy. Some days this will feel like too much work, but it’s often worth it.

Know what refreshes you

Figure out what quick activity or treat refreshes and relaxes you. If that gives you a little more patience to get you through the day…schedule it in!!

13 Ways to Reduce Daily Stress: Begin your day with quiet/alone time, Exercise, Get outside, Look for joy, Pray, Let go. Don’t strive for perfection. Do not strive to do it all., Reset, Know what refreshes you, Make a grateful list, Stay hydrated, Get sleep, and Deep slow breathing.

Make a grateful list.

This is something I have yet to try, but I hear so much about it! Get in the habit of writing down 3 things you are grateful for each night before going to bed.

Stepping back and finding something you are grateful for can quickly change your perspective!

Stay hydrated.

You will feel better if you stay hydrated, so remember to drink plenty of water! Your body will function better. Here are 8 Ways to Drink More Water Every Day.

Get sleep.

This is key! You will have much more energy, your brain will function better, and your physical health will improve. Your body restores itself while sleeping, so your entire body will thank you when you start to make sleep a priority. 

If you have trouble making sleep a priority, check out these helpful resources: 

Check your perspective.

Remember that we have all we need. Everything we need. His grace is enough.

But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9

Deep, slow breathing

When you start to get stressed or anxious, your breaths may become short and shallow. The Spire Mindfulness + Activity Tracker picks up on your breathing rate and can notify you to take a few deep breaths. It can alert you in the moment and suggest breathing exercises that lead to putting you in a calmer and focused state.

If you are not good at sitting down quietly and breathing slow, the Spire Activity Tracker will guide you.

In addition to tracking your breath, notifying you if you are tense, and walking you through breathing activities, the Spire Activity Tracker also tracks your steps and active minutes. At the end of the day, I can see if I met my active minutes and step goals. I can set up notifications to notify me when I have been sedentary for a set amount of minutes. 

13 Ways to Reduce Daily Stress: Begin your day with quiet/alone time, Exercise, Get outside, Look for joy, Pray, Let go. Don’t strive for perfection. Do not strive to do it all., Reset, Know what refreshes you, Make a grateful list, Stay hydrated, Get sleep, and Deep slow breathing.

13 Ways to Reduce Daily Stress. Spire Mindfulness + Activity Tracker

What is your favorite way to reduce stress in your own life?

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

13 Ways to Reduce Daily Stress: Begin your day with quiet/alone time, Exercise, Get outside, Look for joy, Pray, Let go. Don’t strive for perfection. Do not strive to do it all., Reset, Know what refreshes you, Make a grateful list, Stay hydrated, Get sleep, and Deep slow breathing.

This post contains affiliate links.

Stop by to see where I link-up my posts each week: Link-Up List

Monthly Goals – September

Monthly Goals - September

Standard Disclosure: In order to support my blogging activities and provide free content on this blog, I may receive a commission if you purchase from the links in this post.

My Monthly Goals…Why do I set them? Why do I share them here?

  • Setting goals helps me remain focused.
  • Sharing my goals helps to hold me accountable.
  • I hope that it may inspire you to set goals for yourself.

Are you new to goal setting? Here are a few posts that may help or inspire you:

Monthly Goals - September

Sleep

August: My goal was to wake up at 6:30 each morning. I met this goal 50% of the month.

September: The third trimester of pregnancy is NOT the best time for sleep, but because my girl is going to kindergarten this fall I don’t have much of a choice to get up earlier most mornings. 

I am not used to getting my girls out the door early in the morning, so the schedule change isn’t easy on me. Our mornings will go much smoother and attitudes will be better if my kindergartner doesn’t feel rushed. I spent the last portion of August trying to set our schedules earlier and so I want to continue that. In September I want to focus on going to bed early so the mornings aren’t too rough. (If you have any tips on how to get better sleep during the third trimester, please share in the comments!! I am tired and could use a few tips.)

If you have trouble making sleep a priority, check out these helpful resources: 

Your Morning Manual: A Guide & Workbook for Resetting and Maximizing Your Mornings

Exercise

August: Cardio 3-4 times per week. Try to walk outside at least once per week. DONE. I feel so much better when I continue to workout while pregnant!

September: Cardio 3-4 times per week. Try to walk at least once per week. Do you need tips on getting exercise into your daily life?

Weekly “date” night with hubby

August: One movie, game or date night per week. We had more TV date-nights than we do in a full year. The reason? The Olympics. We also had a nice birthday dinner and walk around the lakes in August. And an evening of Bananagrams. Does mini-van shopping also count as a date?

September: Continue one movie, game or date night per week. 

Monthly outing with our family

August: Plan one fun activity for the four of us in August. We got in a cabin trip.

September: Plan one fun activity for the four of us.

Habit from my 12 Mini Goal Challenge

August: I know the importance of reading to children and reading has been key to my girls’ lives. We spend so much time with books. They love having books read to them and also enjoy looking through and “reading” books themselves. I am realizing that during the summer months we occasionally have days where reading is not a priority. In August my goal was to read daily to my girls and track the time. I didn’t end up tracking the books read for the entire month, but just choosing to be more aware of the amount I was reading was enough to increase our reading time in August.

September: Abiding by the school schedule is a big change for us. I know that I will need to manage my schedule much differently as I am not used to getting my girls out the door early in the morning. I will miss out on much of my morning alone/blogging time and I will have to be much more strict about bedtimes and morning routines. I will need to stop fitting in that One Last Thing that can make me late.

In September I am focusing on planning my morning and evening schedules out until I get a handle on our new school routine. If you need help managing your morning and evening schedules, get the printable schedule here:

September Mini Goal: Reset Morning and Evening Schedules

Read more about my 12 Mini-Goals Challenge.

Faith

August: Read Daily Devotional New Testament: Through the New Testament in a Year every morning. This daily devotional includes two readings from the New Testament, a short reflection, a portion of the Psalms and a thoughts for prayer section. I enjoyed reading this devotion every morning. I have spent the last year or so changing up my daily devotion and I liked just having one that I go to every morning.

While I know the importance of starting my day in God’s Word, the third-trimester tiredness is getting the best of me. I got behind in August.

September: Continue to read Daily Devotional New Testament: Through the New Testament in a Year every morning. 

Morning devotion with my girls

August: Read a daily devotion or bible story with my girls at breakfast each morning. Great for the first half of August. Failed during the last half of August.

September: Read a daily devotion or bible story with my girls at breakfast (on non-school days). I wrote more about this new morning routine here.

Books

August: I finished Gone South, but didn’t end up reading anything else. Who can read when the Olympic is on?? I cannot. 

September: No goal. I have so many magazines around the house, I just may try to catch up on reading them. 

Home

August:

  • Plan mom’s group at church – Mostly done.
  • Backup pictures on my computer – No.
  • With a baby due this fall…get a bigger car – Yes!

September: Because of the eBook launch and spending more time than usual on sponsored posts, I have neglected a few things around the home. I would like to get more organized (declutter!) around the house and get a few things sorted and rearranged for the new baby.

August Blog Goals

September Blog Goals

If you blog about goals, I would love to have you stop by the first Wednesday (at 7 AM EST/6 AM CST) of each month to linkup your goals post. We look forward to reading your posts and encourage you to look around at the other posts linked up here.

Please join us to share your goals and progress for the week, month, or year. We are all about building a positive community; please remember to read, comment on, and share the post of others. 

Monthly Goals - February. Stop by to link up your goals post on the first Wednesday of each month...With Grit and Grace...a monthly goals linkup

Just a reminder…
  • All forms of goal posts are welcome. They can be for a specific area in your life, or your general goals for the day, week, month, or year. We love to hear updates on your progress too. Please only link up posts involving goals.
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How to Train for a Marathon with Small Children

How to Train for a Marathon with Small Children

Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by the J.M. Smucker company. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Prior to having children, I ran road races multiple times per year. After having children, running races each summer and fall went by the wayside. My priorities shifted to being a mom and that is where a majority of my time is focused.

While training for and running races is not a top life priority now, I haven’t completely given up. I still try to run at least one road race per year, unless I am pregnant or have a newborn…so I have skipped a few races over the last 6 years. It’s not easy to fit the race in some years and it can feel like a lot of work, but it is completely worth the time and effort!

Running a marathon was a goal of mine. When our oldest daughter was one, my husband and I decided to train for our first marathon. It is such a time-consuming endeavor! The entire summer of 2012 was spent figuring our training schedules, shuffling our 1-year-old around during long runs, running, eating (so much!), and recovering from the many miles we were running.

It was such a fun summer of training and the marathon was a blast. We were both excited to hit our goal times. While I would not take the time to train for a marathon every year with small children, I am so glad that we decided to make it a priority for one summer.

If you want to train for a marathon or an alternate time-consuming (and bold!) adventure with young children at home, here are a few tips:

Write out a schedule

You cannot fly by the seat of your pants when training for a marathon. There are too many miles that must be fit into a week for that to work, especially when planning the runs around work schedules (my husbands) and a one-year-old. I made a rough 16-week training plan for both of us. We had weekly meetings to figure out when we would get our training runs in. There was no way we would have been able to log the miles and get in the long runs if we didn’t sit down to schedule out our runs each week. (It made me wonder why I didn’t do my first marathon pre-kiddo. It would have been much easier to get all the miles in!)

How to Train for a Marathon with Small Children

Find a training or accountability partner

I am so glad that my husband and I decided to train for the same marathon. Yes, it meant that every weekend we BOTH had to get our long runs in. If we both had to run 20+ miles at separate times in the day, that would take up much of our day! (We would then be completely wiped out for the remaining time.)

It was so helpful to have a training partner. We did a few runs together when it worked out to have someone watch our daughter. It was also nice to train for the same race as much of our daily conversation was around our running schedule, training runs, goal paces, rest, aches and pains, injuries, what we were eating, and everything else running related. If only one of us had been training, all the running talk might have gotten old for the non-running partner.

It also held us accountable as we had to do many of our runs early in the morning. Accountability is so helpful!

Commit!

Training for a marathon is hard work and time-consuming. While I enjoyed it, I am not going to say that it was always easy to do with a child at home. If she was awake at night, it was hard to force myself to get up early to run. It was also hard to have the energy to be a fun mom after running a long run. I just wanted to take a nap! It’s only because I was committed to the marathon and had a goal time in mind that kept me going.

Enlist in help

It was nice to schedule a few of our long runs when grandparents could watch our daughter. It was so helpful! It made our long runs more enjoyable because my husband and I could run a portion of it together…until he decided to take off at a quicker pace. It also took much less time to get our long runs in when we could do them at the same time.

Use your morning time wisely

We could not have completed our training schedule without using the morning time. We often switched off on who would run in the morning and who would run in the evening. When running for fun instead of actual marathon training, it would be fine to just roll out of bed and be out the door in just a few minutes. That doesn’t work so well when you have training goals and need to get a solid run completed in the morning!

If I had more than just a slow recovery run planned, I had to get up in plenty of time to wake up and enjoy coffee and breakfast. Enjoying the morning quiet with my coffee was the perfect way to start my morning prior to tying on my running shoes to get outside.

How to Train for a Marathon with Small Children

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How to Train for a Marathon with Small Children

Regardless of whether or not I am training for a running race, my morning time with a mug of coffee is one of my favorite parts of my day!

Have you ever run a marathon or considered training for one? What bold adventure do you want to plan?

The post is brought to you by Activate by Bloglovin and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.
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September Mini Goal: Plan Out Morning and Evening Schedules

September Mini Goal: Reset Morning and Evening Schedules

This post is part of my 12 Mini Goals Challenge.

Small daily habits can make a big difference over the course of a few weeks, months, or even longer. In 2016, I am going to focus on a new habit or mini goal every month. In January, I focused on Daily Movement or Exercise. In February, I focused on cutting down on evening snacking. In March, my goal was 30 days of pilates. In April, my goal was to clear my kitchen counters every night. In May, I attempted to clear out my closet 3 items at a time. In June, my goal was to reset my mornings and wake up earlier. In July, my goal was to drink more water. In August, I wanted to track our daily reading.

As a stay-at-home mom, I have been able to make our own schedule for the past five years. Now that my oldest is going to kindergarten this fall, I will have to abide by a school schedule. This will be a big change!

I know that I will need to manage my schedule much differently as I am not used to getting my girls out the door early in the morning. This will not be easy on me. I will miss out on much of my morning alone time and I will have to be much more strict about bedtimes and morning routines. I will need to stop fitting in that One Last Thing that can make me late.

I am starting in on my September mini-goal early. I am going to force myself to schedule my evenings and mornings until I form the habits we need. I know that it’s key for my daughter to be well-rested and also have a non-rushed morning. Our mornings will go so much smoother and attitudes will be better if she doesn’t feel rushed!

September Mini Goal: Plan Out Morning and Evening Schedules

My September Mini Goal: Plan out morning and evening schedules to help me stay on track

I created a morning and evening schedule printable that I plan on using until I get a handle on our new school routine. Forcing myself to write on an actual schedule helps me plan my time better. I am less likely to attempt to fit in too much for the time allowed.

Reset Morning and Evening Schedules

Your September Mini Goal: Plan your morning and/or evening schedules.

If you want to join me, print off the Morning and Evening Schedule Printable

If you want to take this a step further and need to reset your mornings for back-to-school, consider checking out: Your Morning Manual: A Guide & Workbook for Resetting & Maximizing Your Mornings. I will be running a morning accountability group in September, so pick the eBook up and join me if you need to step back and take a look at your morning schedule.

Let me know if you decide to join! What do you struggle with in your morning and evening schedules? Do you find it helpful to write out your schedule?

 September Mini Goal: Plan Out Morning and Evening Schedules. With printable schedule for mornings and evenings. 

I would love to have you join the 12 Mini Goals Challenge. Sign up for my mailing list if you want to be e-mailed the challenge each month. If we get to a month where the goal doesn’t fit into your life, you can always tweak it to be a mini goal that works for you.

Stop by to see where I link up each week: Link-Ups