Getting Together at the End of the Day
You're tired, you're hungry and you have a list of things to accomplish when you get home from work. First on your list is picking up the kids! At the end of a long day, both you and the kids may be short on energy and patience when you reconnect. Yet all of you really want that warmth that comes from feeling loved.
- Try to put away the problems of the day and what's left to accomplish for a little while. You and your children need each other after being apart all day.
- Be on time. Children need to feel confident that you will come back. Even when they can't tell time, they recognize "My Dad picks me up after Jimmy leaves!"
- Follow a routine. Keeping things the same helps children know what to expect. It might be playing peek-a-boo with your child's coat before you put it on to go or giving out crackers when everyone's buckled.
- Expect some chaos. Some children will rush into your arms and jabber all the way home. Other children may want some space to "shift gears" and ignore you. Figure out what works with each child.
- Expect some sibling rivalry if you have more than one child. Everyone may want attention right now!
- Give everyone a chance to breathe! Some people adjust to changes faster than others do. A child may need some time to make the transition from day care to home, just as you may need time to switch between work and home.
- Develop your own ritual for the drive and your arrival home.
Here are a few ideas to start you thinking:
- Something as simple as a "How was your day?"
- Make up a knock-knock joke each day. It could even be the same joke day after day!
- Play a guessing game such as "I see something and it's blue." Allow children to ask questions and provide hints. It helps to select things inside your vehicle so you aren't a mile down the road before anyone guesses.
- Make up a silly rhyme with actions such as "Jack be noodle, Jack be stiff, Jack come over and hug me quick."
- Try the game "What did you bring home today?" You can start by listing a nose, an ear, and a shoulder while you touch each part!
Special "I love you" rituals repeated each day will help you and your children feel connected. Taking a few minutes to create a feeling of togetherness can pay big dividends. You not only get the warm feelings, but often get more energy and cooperation to take on some of the other items on your "to do" list.